The Effects of Scope Creep on Project Success

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


For as long as society has procured engineering and construction projects, spectators and theorists have observed and studied project management practice and its influence on project success. Many scholars have pondered and theorised the spectrum of good and bad project management practices and how they engender successful and unsuccessful projects. Often, these pundits have overlooked the impact of scope creep on project success. Scope creep is the incremental process of undocumented changes in a project's requirements that begin sometime after stakeholders have ratified the project's objectives, schedules, tasks, deliverables, and performance. This paper aims to contribute to the limited number of studies that have examined scope creep by focusing on its manifestation in a sample of construction projects in a single case study construction company operating in the gas and oil sector in the UK and US. Using a bilateral quantitative research approach, the authors received responses from 70 of the company's project managers and interrogated the financial details of 201 of the company's historic construction project documents. The online survey results suggest that a general lack of understanding of scope creep among all stakeholders, its implications, and the project managers' certitude to refuse additional client requirements significantly contributed to its manifestation. The desktop study of the company's historical project documentation yielded an unexpected discovery concerning unexplained scope creep. The company had classified many of its projects as call-off contracts, which meant it had agreed to additional work on an ad-hoc basis, thereby expanding the project's scope. The authors concluded that unknown, undocumented, unmanaged scope creep would become a significant dysfunctional factor adversely affecting project success. The study concluded by underlining four factors that should influence the project managers' abilities to manage scope creep successfully to ensure project success: clear understanding of the project scope, stakeholder involvement at all stages, schedule and budget management, and change management.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2022
Event12th International Conference on Engineering, Project, and Production Management [EPPM2022] - National Technical University of Athens, Athens, Greece
Duration: 12 Oct 202214 Oct 2022
Conference number: 12


Conference12th International Conference on Engineering, Project, and Production Management [EPPM2022]
Abbreviated titleEPPM2022
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