Scope Creep in Git Projects: What to Do

Everyone knows what scope creep is – and what repercussions can happen if it is left to spin out of control. There are a lot of different definitions. In this case, let’s focus on what happens when the original scope changes (or grows) after implementation has already begun. Very often, scope creep can happen slowly, and we may not even realize it’s happening. However, if you’re watching the data, you’ll be able to pick up on patterns before things grow out of control and combat scope creep patterns as they happen and move forward within a project.

Who’s Responsible for Scope Creep?

Even meticulously-defined projects can have tasks that suffer from scope creep. For example, a manager needs to pay close attention to the work to ensure that their engineers are not asked to take on an unreasonable level of scope increase. That requires looking for early signs so that scope creep can be called out and dealt with early on before expectations spiral out of control.

However, who’s at heart responsible for scope creep in your organization?

Typically, scope creep happens when specific stakeholders begin to push additional tasks onto the development team. This could be anything from a new feature to an extension of the pre-planned project parameters. While these stakeholders may force the team to start designing more and more (and more!), it’s ultimately the manager’s job to keep projects on track and within the agreed-upon scope.

Managers that allow scope creep to progress will quickly lose control of their team, the project, and, most importantly, the timing and budget of the project as a whole.

Will I Recognize Scope Creep When I See It?

Managers will recognize scope creep when there’s a sharp uptick in progress near the back of a sprint that’s not driven by a review in code. Typically, the problems a team is trying to solve should get smaller near the back of the sprint. When this doesn’t happen, scope creep might be in play. If a sudden spike of last-minute activity becomes apparent, that may be a clear sign of someone pushing the scope outside its original parameters. Look for these growths in scope to become clear patterns across sprints, and examine external stakeholders that may be causing the team to grow their actual workload outside the agreed-upon scope.

Scope Creep is Affecting My Team. What Can I Do?

With scope creep typically the result of poor planning or not enough attention being paid during the design phase, as a manager, you’ll likely have to go back and revisit the specs. That isn’t an engineer’s job, and they won’t have time to fix the creep that’s happening. It’s up to the manager to call it out and bring it to the stakeholder’s attention. Once you’ve discovered who’s pushing the poorly designed project onto the team and into implementation, you’ll have to call it out.

Simply calling it out, however, won’t be enough. Neither will castigating another’s attempts as pushing the project into a new direction. Instead, do the due diligence of collecting evidence of what this diversion costs – both in terms of time, money, and product quality. Typically, if the stakeholders can see how much scope creep physically costs, it’s enough to make them second guess their attempts to push the code in a brand new direction, diverting energy from the pre-defined end-goal previously established and agreed to.

Once the scope creep is physical and tangible to those with the power to steer the ship, solutions can quickly become actionable. However, it’s crucial to catch it very early in the process. There’s always the risk – if a team is halfway down the road to finishing a section of the product that was tacked on – that the stakeholder will demand this new addition is seen through to completion. That’s not just bad for the team and morale. It’s bad for hitting the final project deadline and could cause a loss of control on the project in general.

Therefore, keep an eye out for scope creep. Check for it early and often. Once you sense it’s happening, speak up for your team, show the results of allowing the creep to continue, and work to get everyone back on track, so the project doesn’t suffer the long-term side effects of directionless design.


If you are a manager experiencing scope creep, call it out when you see it. Go to the relevant stakeholders with information on how the scope creep will cost the company – in time and money – and showcase how new tasks are deviating from agreed-upon deliverables. By staying on top of the scope and its pre-determined requirements, you’ll make sure you’re delivering exactly what’s expected while helping to keep diversions away from your team.

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