What’s YOUR nasty scope creep story?

by | Jul 3, 2019

Got ya thinkin’ there, didn’t I?

I know you have one …

… a scope creep worst-workday-ever disaster story.

Maybe the one where a bunch of “Could you just…?” add-ons beckoned.

And (being the nice, accommodating person you are) you listened.

You found yourself out on a nasty, gnarly limb, and your project time was g-o-n-e.
(I was the second person on the third branch. Did you see me? I admire birds a lot more, now.)

We will never forget those moments.

If they were rreeaallyy revolting, others wouldn’t forget them, either.

My scope creep debacle was 100% avoidable.
It was all on me. No one else was to blame.
And it was all because I got. in. a. hurry.

I bet you’ve had an “Are you kidding me?!” moment at work, too.

Chime in!

After hearing my saga, I hope you will leave a comment.

For three reasons:

• We’ll have examples from different industries.
• Misery really does love company.
• I won’t be the only person sharing (ha!).

Costly mistake

What do you think I might point to as my most memorable scope creep moment?

It was the day I played the hero instead of saying,

“Whoa! Stop! This is a new project! Time out.”

I call it …

… the ‘are’ day

I was the editor on a difficult book project and was close to finishing it … early!

‘Me time’ was on the horizon, and I could not wait to relax.

Buuuut, as with any industry,

[Ahead of schedule] + [Anxious to finish] = Disaster-in-the-making

WHAT was I thinking?

Suddenly – after rejecting the idea at project start – the client wanted the book changed from passive to active voice. (Remember ‘voice’ from 10th grade English?)

I was at the end of the editing process.

This created a new project.
But, I breezed right past that part.

Beware of scope creep.

Beware of scope creep.

Lesson #1: Don’t ignore project scope creep

STOP working and initiate the
approved change control process.
Additional work = additional time + $$

In your industry, scope creep may rear its ugly head as a truck fender’s redesign.

Or your client requests a ‘minor change’ to a program you’re developing.


For me, it could be the book in this story or updating a website for better SEO.

Don’t follow my example!

I hope you never pull the – shall I just go ahead and say it? – idiotic stunt I did.

Don’t ever ignore scope creep.

It started out OK

Before heading out to lunch, I began a book-wide search for the first item on my passive voice list: ‘are.’ I needed to find them and update those phrases.

In my experience, ‘are’ is the most-often-used passive voice word.

I was working on a training manual.

Items even hinting at being passive voice …

“You are going to want to flex your knee.”

… would become active, very short:

“Flex your knee.”

“I’ve got this.”

The search box told me there were over 400 ‘are’s.


My next step was replacing them with red text (a proofer’s quick-visual-overview trick).

I tapped the “Replace All” button and headed out the door to lunch.

“OK … what’s goin’ on?”

After soup-n-munchies, I began noticing weird sentences.

There were no ‘are’s in the book.


In my hurry to get to lunch, I didn’t change every word ‘are’ to red text.

I deleted every occurrence of these three letters in sequence: ‘are’

Oh, yeah.

[‘Area’] – [are] = ‘a’

[‘Arena’] – [are] = ‘na’

[‘You are almost ready’] – [are] = [‘You  almost ready’]

(lost a word, gained a space)

Don't let scope creep stalk YOU!

Don’t let scope creep stalk YOU!

Lesson #2: Carefully plan your break times

Don’t let a frazzled brain or growling tummy
make you impatient. Plan your breaks wisely.

Quark would cringe …

You’re thinking, “Heck, Kathie, why didn’t you just ‘undo’ the change?”
Well … that’s some other bad stuff.

I couldn’t. It wasn’t my last edit.

I was about a half-hour in, doing some other stuff to the file.

Oh. Uh … oh.


My project was easier to fix than your fender redesign or programming redirection.

But, there would be no profit in it.

(For Star Trek fans) Quark – or any other Ferengi – would be horrified!

It took four days to fix this and get through the other passive voice indicators.

Slow. down.

All that wasted time because I:

• Got in a hurry.
• Ignored the need to rebid the work.
• Thought I was invincible.

If we don’t slow down and sweat the small stuff, it can suddenly become v-e-r-y big stuff (no matter what the cute saying declares).

Whether we manufacture the best automobile engine in the world or assess websites for a living, our grandmothers were right:

“Haste makes waste.”

Thanks, Gramma. Maybe I’ll remember next time.

And while I’m at it, maybe I’ll follow. my. processes.
There’s a novel idea ….

Join the Conversation: Tell us your scope creep horror story.

  • Looking back: were the disaster signs clear, but you ignored them?
  • How did you bounce back?
  • What could you have done differently to prevent the problem(s)?

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Kathie York, CSQE
Lead Tech

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