What is the Dreaded Feature Creep?

March 20, 2018

In software development, it's easy for things to turn into chaos, especially if you don't have a good project manager on the case. Let's talk about feature creep and how to prevent this little disease from creeping in on your project.

What is Feature Creep?

Feature creep, also known as scope creep, is what happens when a project spirals out of control and starts to have features added to it that were either not intended, not in the original design, or not paid for. There are many ways this can happen, including poor project management, becoming overly ambitious, or lack of focus. But no matter the cause the one common denominator is that feature creep is bad.

How it Happens

There are several things that can lead to feature creep:

  • No Clear Purpose - Not agreeing on a clear idea or purpose. This is probably the easiest way to invite feature creep in.
  • Poor Project Management - Not having good project manager is another way. Someone who doesn't recognize the on-set of this terrible affliction is bound to let it happen.
  • Not Saying No - Speak up! Sometimes the cause can be not knowing how to say no to an idea. This could be because your boss suggested it or maybe it was the developer. Either way, this is where you can fall back on having a clear, agreed upon purpose to refer back to.
  • Over Ambitious - Anyone can become overly ambitious - maybe it's a too-confident developer, a starry eyed client, or many other combinations of adjectives and people.

Negative Impact

Feature creep can have lots of negative impact on a product, in this case, let's say an app.

  • For the Customer - An app with feature creep is usually way too busy from all of the unneeded features. This can cause awful user experience and a cluttered app that nobody wants.
  • For Developers and Clients - A bloat of features can cause massive delays in the development process. It's also painful for whoever is funding the project because the budget could increase exponentially.

How to Prevent Feature Creep

  • Stick to Your Guns - And by guns, we mean idea. Have a clear, simple idea and stick to it. Come to an agreement on the projects goals at the beginning of the process.
  • Trust - Find a good developer you can trust. A good developer will hopefully be "feature creep aware" and will warn you when you start to stray from that important, original idea. And vice-versa. Don't be afraid to speak up if you think the developer is starting to stray. Keep each other in check.
  • Check in, Stay True - Throughout the development process, be sure to check in with your original purpose every once in a while. Are you staying true? Have you strayed? Have you strayed so far you're lost forever in a clouded fog of fingerprint scanning and insert useless feature and you'll never find your way back and everyone assumes you've died?

    When someone brings up a new feature, ask yourself, does it serve the original idea? Or is it just a "cool" thing Greg thought of on his way to the bathroom. Like the time he thought the iPhone app iFart needed a "Share to LinkedIn" feature.

Don't Get Creeped on

It's better to have an app that does one thing really well than an app that does loads of things not so well. However, if you're looking for the best way to sabotage a project, delay release, and come in over-budget, you've found it. Tell Greg we said hi.

Check out Common Terms Used in Development

Who We Are

Pixel and Texel is a development studio based in Dallas, TX, that is developer owned, operated, and founded. We have been creating made to order apps, VR, websites and backend solutions since 2011. Our team of full-stack developers combines decades of code experience, project planning, and coffee drinking to build the bridge that connects brands to consumers. We’re started this company to put development back into the hands of developers.