scope creep

Scope Creep – What is Scope Creep?

Well… it’s the sort of situation you don’t want to be faced with, as it ends up costing you a lot of time & money! I am going to relate this to designing and developing a new website for a client…

Simply put… “Scope Creep” is when your project moves from what was originally discussed and agreed upon, to areas of work which start taking up more time (and probably for no extra remuneration).

This is sometimes caused by the client or by you not being clear in the first place. You may not have detailed your project definition that well, leaving it wide open to misinterpretation. You may have been tempted to start the project before all the information and content gathering has been done properly. Promising too much to the Client. Your Client starts asking for extra things to be done which you do without re-quoting.

Changes will always happen and no web designer will ever avoid this but you have the opportunity here to make scope creep work for you. As long as you get paid for it. (Very important!)

Scope Creep Caused By The Client

“I did tell you at the outset” – If it’s not in the scope of work definition, agreed and signed for, it’s not in the scope! Sometimes your Client will, in all innocence, want to add more or make changes which have not had prior agreement.

Late content supplied – Has your client been late in giving you the content you need, yet still rather expects you to still be on time with the job? You must have it in your contract that late submissions cause delay, upset the schedule of works and could end up costing the client money.

“Can you just…?” – Small extra requests, however small will cost you time and money. “It’s only a small change… surely you can slip that one in?” NO! Not without payment. You have to eat!

Scope Creep Caused By Yourself

Never just add extra items because you think it is a good idea and that the Client may like it. How long has that taken you? Half an hour, an hour? That’s good money you have thrown away.

Never just throw in a small item, as your Clent will expect this in the future. I know, I have done this and it has come around and bitten me where it hurts! Even little changes should be charged for.

Your change control process (you do have one in your client contracts don’t you? It need only be a few words) might take up valuable project time and you may be scared of not meeting the deadline which you and your client set out initially. So you go ahead and make the changes anyway. Who gains here? You or your Client? Have a guess!

Starting the project without all the content and required items in place and signed off by the Client. Well… you know what happens next don’t you? You leave yourself wide open for more time consuming work when it goes wrong!

You must have a watertight agreement with no room for “Well that’s not really what I expected” and “Can you just…?”

The 3 P’s –  A Proper Project Plan

I am not going into detail about project plans, as you can learn about all that from the many resources out there in the Ether. However… you do need a plan to provide a website for a client. You will look jolly professional too. Especially if you close all the loopholes which sometimes get exploited or ignored.

Define everything you need from the client and also what you will provide to the client. That is scope!

Define (to yourself) what you will need to get in place to make this site work. (The technical aspects, any outsourcing or purchases)

Work out how long this project is likely to take and get this agreed by the client. They may want it doing “yesterday” – You may know better and need to explain this and get it agreed. They may have a date to meet and you need to establish whether or not you can do it in the timeframe.

Establish a fee after initial consultation and get that agreed before anything takes place.

Create a schedule with several milestones. This is where you may have a draft design process for client signoff. A “wireframe” process to show the client what goes where and how this works. Then move to content and imagery, copy writing etc. And so on though to eventually going live. You may even establish “Payment Stages” to make sure that you are not working with no money for several weeks!

Have a changes procedure in place and stick to it. Don’t relent. It never works out!

Have a signoff procedure in place too. When you are done and your client is happy, the site goes live and unless you have some snagging policy in place… that’s it! Any more work is chargeable.

What I do to stop “Scope Creep” in my projects

After initial consultation, I establish a draft scope of works with Client resposibilities clearly defined and my responsibilities clearly defined and write it all down in legible form.

I add all my notes about project completion dates, milestones, timely delivery applying to both parties, content, images features and functions and once I have satisfied myself that I have a watertight proposal, I get it to the client for approval.

Always request a deposit upon signature and define exactly when you will be requiring the balance or future stage payments.

I have done some work with Architects in the past and have noticed how tight their contracts are. They have scopes of works to be envied and awe inspiring stage payments. They only do the work in set stages and only when they get paid up front!

In conclusion

It may all sound a bit overwhelming for some. (My Over has never been so Whelmed either!) It’s quite a process making sure that everyone is happy and that there are no surprises presenting themselves around the many corners. It is so easy to let things slip when you don’t stick to the ground rules

We are in business to make money… yes? Make a profit? Of course. It’s a simple contract really. Stick to the rules and all will be well.

We live in hope!

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