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14 Examples of Scope Risk

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Scope risk is the potential for project failures related to uncontrolled change or ambiguous requirements and objectives. This includes the risk that your initial scope and out-of-scope definitions will by open-ended or unclear. Scope risk also includes the potential that scope will change over time without proper adjustments to schedule, budget and dependencies. The following are common examples of scope risk.

Ambiguous Objectives

Project targets that are imprecise and open-ended such as "improve customer experience."

Ambiguous Requirements

Open-ended requirements such as "the system shall be secure."

Ambiguous Contracts

Contracts that are unclear in some way resulting in expanded scope for a project. For example, a contact that states that you will provide a "design" to a vendor. This is quite open-ended whereby the vendor may demand some great variety of design artifacts.

Uncontrolled Change

Changes such as additional features that are informally adopted.

Stakeholder Expectations

Stakeholders who have unstated expectations for what will be delivered. Such stakeholders may be dissatisfied when these expectations aren't met and push for these changes to be incorporated without proper change control.

Project Planning Failures

Failure to base your project plan on a stable set of requirements, constraints and assumptions.

Change Control Failures

Accepting change without reassessing feasibility, plans, budget, schedule and dependencies.


Miscommunication and misinterpretations that cause scope or imagined scope to expand.

Best Effort Basis

Stakeholders or sponsors who push project teams to accept change that is probably impossible to deliver to schedule and budget but to "try their best."

Gold Plating

Project members who add additional quality or features to the project beyond what's in the requirements.

Internal Change

Factors within your control that force scope changes. For example, you find that a design your project team created is not feasible such that a new design is required.

External Change

Factors beyond your control that force scope changes. For example, a merger or acquisition that causes broad changes to processes.


Dependencies that force change to scope. For example, a database you will use that is suddenly decommissioned.

Estimate Optimism

Overly optimistic estimates such that scope is greatly underestimated from the start.


Scope risk is the potential for scope to be underestimated, ambiguous or expanded in an uncontrolled fashion resulting in poor project performance or failures.


From a pragmatic perspective, a project fails if major stakeholders feel that it has failed. As such, expectations and imagined scope are relevant to scope risk whereby a paper trail that states something is out-of-scope can be less important that communication and acceptance.
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Architecture Risk
Benefit Shortfall
Business Impact Risk
Business Risks
Design Risk
Project Complexity
Project Failure
Project Management
Project Risk
Project Stakeholder
Requirements Risk
Risk Acceptance
Risk Avoidance
Risk Reduction
Risk Transfer
Risk Treatment
Schedule Risk
Scope Creep
Scope Risk
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Project Risk

A list of common project risks.

Benefit Shortfall

A definition of benefit shortfall.

Requirements Risk

Risks related to the quality of requirements or the requirements management process.

Business Impact Risk

The potential that business will be interrupted by a project or organizational change.

Scope Creep

The uncontrolled expansion of a project's scope.

Project Management

A guide to project management.

Change Characteristics

A list of change characteristics for change management.

Change Readiness

An overview of change readiness with examples.

Schedule Risk

An overview of schedule risk with examples.

Schedule Compression

An overview of schedule compression with examples.


An overview with schedule crashing for projects with examples.

Fast Tracking

An overview of fast tracking with examples, advantages, disadvantages and alternatives.

Project Requirements

An extensive list of project requirements including functional and non-functional examples.
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