Scope Creep and Termination of Contract

I am wondering if scope creep is considered a breach of contract. I have signed a contract based on a requirements document. In the contract is says that changes to the requirements will be a addressed with written amendments.

The design of the website, provided by the client after the contract was signed, adds many additional features. Is this considered a breach of contract and how should I move forward. Some of the new features are minor, but some rather large. I don’t personally feel like I can complete the project as it stands now. It has become too big of a job. Is it possible to terminate the contract? There is a termination clause in the contract but it requires the client default on the contract in some way. Would this be considered a default?


If you have specifically defined what services you will provide within the terms of the contract, complete those services and you have completed the contract. Get together with your client and discuss those features which you believe are “additional”. Communication is always the key to successfully completing a project.

Whether it breaches the contract or not is really not the question I would be asking - that is, unless you hate this client and no longer want the business.

If your contract is written properly, there should be some language that indicates what should be done in the even that the scope changes. There should be no such thing as ‘creep’ - it’s up to YOU to manage the requirements and if the client sneaks something in then you’ve created your own problem. Instead, you need to manage their expectations from beginning to end and communicate with them about what is going on.

It sounds to me like a simple situation. The client introduced a design which calls for additional requirements that are not in the agreement. Now you need to decide what to do, and unless it was a written and signed amendment to the contract (if your contract requires that) then no ‘creep’ has yet occurred - you haven’t accepted those new requirements.

Rather then getting legalese, why not try to make this situation unfold as smoothly as possible?

Call them or email and just say, “The design you sent looks like it has some additional functionality that wasn’t in our agreement. I am happy to discuss adding in these additional features to the project or we can keep the look/feel of the design that you provided but skip those features. Regardless,
let’s talk about what your needs are so that we can be clear on the scope of the project.”

This happens every day, and if you simply communicate with the client you can usually avoid scope creep from happening in the first place. If things go well, you’ll wind up getting a change order and adding a few features and a few bucks to the contract. If not, you’ll protect yourself and your client from a project gone wrong.

Embrace change! In most cases, nobody wants to breach a contract - it’s better to address issues quickly and gracefully for everyone’s benefit.