Tales of Scope Creep

Imagine you are the project manager over a design agency. Rachel, from another company, hires you to create an ad campaign which includes a short promotional video and an ad for the local newspaper. You and Rachel agree on a price, deadline and schedule, and you and your team gets started. A few weeks into the project, Rachel asks your team to make a 20-minute documentary instead of a promotional video. Although you’ve agreed to the change, Rachel is upset, asking why the project isn’t completed on time. You and your team have fallen victim to Scope Creep.

Scope Creep is what happens when your desired plan doesn’t go according to the terms and conditions you agreed upon. In spite of the reason for the change, the project has shifted into a completely different direction which may affect the budget and deadline. Here are some tips to avoid falling into the trap of scope creep.


1. Consultation

Consulting with your client is a great way to understand the project and its expectations. You’ll always have that client who needs something today, then changes his/her mind once you’ve started the project. The client may realize he/she doesn’t have a clear vision of what he/she wants. Give your clients options and inform them on possible services they can use. To save time and energy, ask simple questions like “What’s your vision for the project?” or “Which outlets work best for you?”


2. Guidelines

Just as you expect the client to be clear, you have to be clear on your guidelines as well. Have a laid out plan with a timeline, deliverables, number of revisions and fees for going beyond this plan. Create a contract with specific requirements and make sure to document everything and get everyone’s signature who’s involved. It’s also useful to have a change protocol in place. According to Work zone, a software company, small, reasonable changes that don’t affect the entire scope of the project are acceptable and are sometimes necessary. However, it is imperative to have a plan in place in case of any changes that affect the budget or deadline. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re encouraged to make contracts like Proposify or AND Co.


3. Pricing

Always consider errors and revisions when working with your client. Many products people buy today come with “free” features which are already factored into the price. Why shouldn’t you do the same for a service that’s going to pay for itself? There should be an extra charge for the amount of time it takes to rewrite and/or edit the product description. Remember, time is money, so use it wisely!

Before starting your next project, use SMART goals. Be Specific; ask your client what does he/she want to accomplish? Inform the individual on your limitations and what’s acceptable. Make sure the project is measurable. Ask your client questions like how much and how many to be certain nothing is left out. Your goal needs to be achievable, so you should agree to a realistic plan that’s within your knowledge and capabilities. It’s important that your goal is relevant. Does it matter to you and meets you and your client’s needs? Finally, is your goal timely? Establishing a deadline is crucial for professionalism. Following these SMART goals will tremendously improve your business and prevent you from falling into scope creep.