Eight in ten (82%) IT heads in Hong Kong are concerned about scope creep in their department, said recruitment service firm Robert Half that recently surveyed CTOs and CIOs working in financial firms in Hong Kong.

Scope creep -- also known as requirement creep -- refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project's scope, is found to occur most often in IT projects such as applications development (36%), website development (36%), system upgrades/deployments (34%), according to the headhunter.

When asked about the primary causes of scope creep, nearly half of the respondents (46%) cited staff continuity. Other significant causes include the changing regulatory environment (30%), insufficient planning (28), and poor project management/planning (24%).

"Businesses can sometimes get excited about a new application or a system upgrade," PallaviAnand, Director of Robert Half Hong Kong said. "This may lead to scope creep in the IT department as they struggle to accommodate requests from their increasingly-demanding stakeholders. Failure to manage expectations, or in some cases, push back may result in the IT departments being perceived negatively in terms of their ability to deliver results and meet deadlines."

On managing scope creep, 40% of respondents said they would increase either interim or permanent headcount to cope with the additional workload, said Robert Half, adding that better reporting (42%), project management (26%), and collaboration between departments (26%) are also high on the IT departments' agenda.

The need to hire professionals who can help IT departments maintain service levels and meet deadlines is more important than ever as scope creep can result in a project team overrunning its original budget and schedule, or even cripple a project if unchecked, Anand pointed out.

Additional support from interim or contract IT specialists can also help reduce any potential tension between the IT department and their internal clients, and maintain productivity during workload peaks and troughs, she added.