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June 26, 2024 • News

What is Scope Creep? How Agencies Can Reduce the Risk of Scope Creep

Scope Creep Project on screwed up Post it notes

It starts out like any straight forward project, nothing to complex or challenging. You’ve got a clear brief, scoped the project, created a Gantt chart with delivery deadlines, worked out the budget and put together your resources.

All there’s left to do is to get started. 

Then the client has a small request. No, biggie it’s a tiny change. Then the emails start: “Could we just?” Would it be possible?” “We were thinking?” 

The next thing you know, BAM! Scope Creep. 

The once well thought, straight forward project has become a project management nightmare. It’s a drain on time, money and resources, this project is stuck at the top of your to do list, forever. 

In this blog we will be taking a closer look at: 

  • What is Scope Creep?
  • What Can Be Done to Reduce Scope Creep?
  • How To Get a Scope Creeped Project Back on Track

What is Scope Creep?

Normally projects are scoped out, boundaries are defined, goals and objectives are set. Timelines and resources are put in place and everyone should know what needs to be done and by who. 

The problem occurs when clients request amendments or changes that fall outside of the original project scope. These little amendments build up over time until the project has completely changed. 

Hence the name scope creep, it’s a snowball rolling down the side of a mountain. It’s starts off quite innocent but it quickly gains momentum becoming larger and harder to control. Until eventually, everyone is running for cover, trying to hide from the oncoming terror. 


What Can Be Done to Reduce Scope Creep? 

Don’t get us wrong, a little scope creep isn’t a bad thing as it shows that as an agency your're adaptable and happy to make adjustments for the right client. However, some clients like to try their luck and push the projects boundaries as far as they can. 

Here are a few things you can implement to help reduce the risk of scope creep derailing your projects.  

A Solid Brief

People underestimate the importance of an in-depth solid brief as it lays the foundation for project success. It helps communicate the client’s vision and minimises confusion. It keeps everyone aligned, and ensures the project is delivered on time, within budget, and meeting all requirements without the risk of further reworkings. 

Set Expectations Early

By setting expectations the client will have a better idea of what is achievable and what is not. You shouldn’t over promise or say you can deliver something when you can’t, just to win a client. This can be damaging to your agency’s reputation, especially if the client already has high expectations and you can’t exceed or reach those expectations. Be clear, as an agency what you can and can’t do.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say "No"

This is scope creep 101, some clients are more demanding than others and will make unreasonable requests. It’s ok to say “no” agreeing to unrealistic demands can compromise the quality of your work. Rushed projects or tasks outside your expertise could lead to a subpar deliverable, ultimately damaging your reputation. As well as the additional strain you put on your team and resources.  

Clear, Open Communication  

Regular and transparent communication is key to keeping a project on track. Confusion or misunderstanding is a major culprit behind many scope creep issues. Keep clients informed about the project's progression and any potential roadblocks on the horizon, giving you and your team time to find a work around. Discuss any proposed changes openly, highlighting the impact on budget and timeline as early as possible. By fostering an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing information and raising concerns, you can significantly reduce the risk of scope creep and ensure your projects are delivered successfully.

Set Project Milestones 

Milestones act as checkpoints that break the project down into smaller, manageable chunks. Each milestone represents a significant accomplishment towards the final goal, this keeps your client engaged and informed about the overall project progression. Adding invoices for these stages of the project incentivises both parties to stay focused on the defined scope.

Make a Note of Everything

There is nothing worse when a client says they’ve requested something and you don’t have any recollection or notes confirming this. Don't rely on memory! Document everything related to the project scope, including the initial agreement, any discussions about changes, and the final approved scope. This includes any time spent or finances used on the project, ensuring a clear paper trail and helps avoid confusion.

Project Management Software

Overall, project management or agency management software can be powerful tool in the fight against scope creep. By providing features that promote clarity, control, and communication, they can significantly improve your chances of delivering projects on time, on budget, and within the agreed-upon scope.

Create Change Control Processes

Even the most well thought-out, well-planned project can go wrong from situations beyond people’s control. It’s important to analyse the agreed changes in the project plan, including revised timelines and budgets. Clearly communicate these changes to all stakeholders to ensure everyone is aligned. Explain to the client that major changes or disruption could have cost implications due to other on-going projects or the need to allocate resources. 

How To Get a Scope Creeped Project Back on Track

What happens if scope creep does set in and your project is now is spiralling out of control?

First, Assess the Damage: 

Once you realise scope creep is happening, take stock of the situation. Identify the specific areas where the project has deviated and the impact on resources, budget, and deadlines it has had.

Next, Renegotiate Scope or Resources: 

Discuss the situation with the client. You may need to renegotiate the project scope, prioritising tasks and potentially removing some elements. Alternatively, you might discuss securing additional resources or budget to accommodate the expanded scope.

Finally, Update Project Plan and Communicate:

Reflect the agreed-upon changes in the project plan, including revised timelines and budgets. Clearly communicate these changes to all stakeholders to ensure everyone is aligned. It’s time to draw a line in the sand and get the project completed. 


Stuff happens and there isn’t anything you can do to prevent it. However, you can put in proactive measures to defended your agency against scope creep. By clearly defining the scope, documenting everything, and fostering open communication, you can keep projects on track and avoid the headaches associated with scope creep. Which means happy clients, a happy team and a healthy margin. 

Add a Dash of Paprika to Your Agency!

As an agency it can be very easy to get yourself into a project management muddle! Trying to manage and organise resources, client demands and allocated time can quickly get out of hand. 

Paprika agency management software serves as a central reference point for your entire team, knowing what projects are being worked on for which client, when deadlines are due and how much time has been spent. 

Helping you and your agency reduce scope creep with your client’s projects.

Book a demo to find out more.