Scope Creep

In IT project delivery, Agile is lauded for ensuring timely, on-budget completion, adapting to “just in time” requirements. However, projects often exceed cost estimates.

Agile suits each organization’s context. Some continuously invest in development, but most expect tangible ROI and budget adherence, anticipating revenue and growth thereafter.

The Agile flow involves grasping project scope, compiling a high-level backlog, forming architecture, estimating, matching development to estimates, showing regular progress, and celebrating achievements.


Yet, aligning development with estimates is a common stumbling block. Despite a good development pace, unexpected workload increases can occur, leading to scope creep.

The lifecycle of a requirement includes an initial, high-level description during estimation and a detailed stage where specifics are added just before development.

Vendors make assumptions during initial estimations, which some call educated guesses.

We believe that it is possible to estimate correctly. Initially: both the client and the vendor simplify requirements, thinking a lean version will suffice. But as the development phase approaches and details are added, the scope can inadvertently expand.

Ideally, a team should identify if a requirement has grown beyond its initial estimate during refinement or sprint planning. This acts as a sanity check, although it’s not flawless. It helps prevent prolonged development but necessitates difficult conversations about scaling back the scope to meet original estimates.

Business Analyst to the rescue

Business analysts should be cautious to prevent unexpected scope expansion when detailing requirements. It’s essential to recognize that not only Product Owners or Business Analysts document the project vision.

A seasoned Business Analyst understands how client expectations can affect estimations and grasps the technical nuances that might lead to scope increase. In complex projects, it’s beneficial for client discussions to include a technical architect who can identify when requirements exceed initial estimations. Addressing these issues in client meetings and highlighting potential complexities lead to more effective conversations. Proactively managing these changes simplifies requirements and avoids challenging discussions, embodying proactive expectation management.

Final thoughts and something more

In conclusion, Agile project delivery is a dance of collaboration and compromise. The development team must work swiftly, while business stakeholders should recognize that detailing requirements isn’t a boundless endeavor. People’s needs naturally evolve as visions become tangible products, and it’s the vendor’s duty to discuss scope creep with the client during the detailing phase.