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Author: Elyse, PMP, CPHIMS
May 20, 2009

One of my favorite project management sayings is Good - Fast - Cheap you can have any two! Let's talk a little about a universal approach to having a good project scope change control process. Change requests have the power to change your deliverables, your team, and your budget, so it is essential to have a good process to manage these changes. When understanding how to approach a problem such as project scope change control, it is important to understand the causes of scope change.

The top ten causes of Scope Change are:

  1. Business needs changed.

  2. Business benefits changed.

  3. Proper planning was not done.
  4. Planning suffered a lack of stakeholder engagement.

  5. Gold-Plating (scope inflation, scope creep).

  6. Realized Risk

  7. Project Resourcing Changes.

  8. Project Funding Changes.

  9. Project Schedule Changes.

  10. A Corrective Action needs to occur

A point of note is that only one of the 10 relates to evil vile scope creep and scope inflation.

Interested in reading more on project scope? Further reading:

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5 Comments to “The top ten causes of project scope change”

This is a good list. Something I would like to add that isn't common, but hopefully will become more common in the future.

It has to do with the "Realized risk" item, but I think it is important to note that not all risk is negative. Another reason scope may change is because there is an opportunity that can be seized, and a decision was made to go for it.

Team members working on the project are the best-suited in many cases to identify and figure out how to capitalize on these opportunities as they arise on the project.

Josh Nankivel

Thanks for this however I wonder where the list comes from? Maybe you could let us know.

Ron Rosenhead

Hi Ron,

Some from experience, some from what others have seen. Have you seen or experienced other reasons for scope changes?


One I came across recently is seniority/political - by this I mean I want this included because I am a senior manager and it's politically wise to include him/her because of who they are.

I asked the question because I wondered if you have carried out any research. Your answer is fine for me!

Ron Rosenhead

Thanks for the insights and for sharing!

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