Scope Creep. No it’s not that guy that’s been sitting in the corner of the cafe staring at you. In fact, if you don’t know how to deal with scope creep, it could be much worse.
Scope creep, put simply, refers to uncontrolled changes in a client’s project scope. For example, a typical scenario could be when you’ve finished your design project to the original specifications and then the client emails you with a dozen different new changes and ideas. That is scope creep. The scope of the project may get bigger, but the budget may not.
The problem is that clients may not know what they want the finished product to look like until the design project is nearly over, so they make last minute changes and then you’re loaded with an extra day’s work, but not an extra day’s pay.
If you didn’t prepare for this with a contract up front, and the client is constantly changing their specifications, politely warn them that you limit your revisions to a certain number, so they are aware that whilst you are willing to be flexible, any additional changes will meet an additional charge. After all, you may have to work on multiple projects at one time and more time spent on one project cuts in to the time you will spend on another.
So how can you deal with scope creep in the future?
Make a contract. Before starting any project you should always sign a contract with the client, where you lay out your terms. It doesn’t need to be too long or detailed but you do need to outline your working conditions. This should include limits within the project scope and anything outside that will be subject to extra charges.
You could sign a completion document with the client, which states that the project is complete and that any further work will be charged at an hourly rate. Although hourly rates are not always the best, scope creep at an hourly rate could benefit both you and your customer in terms of over all time and money spent.
Four other ways to kill scope creep are to say:
- Glad to help, here’s a new estimate.
- I can’t make that deadline.
- I can, but…
How do you deal with scope creep?