10 Ways to Tackle the Scope Creep

It’s one of the big profit and motivation killers we all tackle regularly. Scope creep. It even sounds like a creepy monster, doesn’t it? So, how do we avoid it?

Here are my ten tips to skip the scope creep:

Manage expectations

Your proposal or agreement should state in black and white what you will and won’t do. For example, every proposal I send outlines in detail what functionality is included, what content will be placed, and how many design iterations will occur.

Mention the monster

The same document should explain what happens if and when that monster pops its head up. For example, my proposals state that both parties have the right to assess changes to deliverables, and revise the budget if required.

Track your time

Do you really keep track of all your time? I’m talking meetings, phone calls, andthose fiddly three-minute favors for the same client. List and track them all; you’ll be surprised how quickly the hours add up.

Keep a track of changes

Sure, it may only be a ten-minute tweak to a logo, or half an hour liaising with the client’s IT supplier, but these tasks weren’t anticipated, and therefore should be added to that change list.

Mention the changes to the client

Even if you don’t expect to charge for that twenty minutes of additional code you wrote, you should let the client know you did it, and the effect on your time. They’ll appreciate the notice, and be more mindful before making further changes.

Speak up sooner

Don’t wait until the monster is wrapped around your neck — mention it as soon as it enters the room, and set your boundaries now. Setting boundaries at the end helps nobody, particularly you.

Put it in writing

It’s easy to say on the phone that it only took ten minutes. Put it in an email, and it becomes more real. It also becomes easier to track, and you can remind a client who has had one favor too many what you’ve already done for them.

Instigate change requests

They really helped me. Now, when a client asks for a clearly outside scope task, I write up a change request, which states why it’s out of scope, and what the financial impact is. You’ll quickly find less changes coming in as a result.

Get it signed off

When the design is approved, or any approval is given, seek a signature or written confirmation. Having the client sign a form makes them acutely aware they have now agreed to conditions. They’ll be less likely to change their minds when you have a signature to wave at the beast.

Have some buffer

It’s obviously a waste to spend ten minutes writing up a change request, or typing an email to confirm a two-minute change. Add some buffer in your budget and the timeline from the start to cover those miniature monster sightings.

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  • http://www.pdvictor.com Peter Drinnan

    I’d also mention the need for disclaimers. When it comes to web development, for example, You need disclaimers for supported browsers, third party plugins, client material delays. You basically need a disclaimer for anything that is outside of your full control. Also, it a client does a flip-flop on design or functionality half way through the project and tries to pretend they wanted it that way all along (happens all the time), you need to be sure your original specs have enough detail to stand up in court. Anything that is vague in a project statement of work is a potential time bomb.