Talking scope creep today. This pesky problem occurs when the scope of a project expands beyond what was originally agreed upon. Resulting in delays, budget overruns, and angry clients.

How to manage scope creep 🔭

Clear communication and project documentation

It all starts in the planning phase. One of the most effective ways to prevent scope creep is to have clear project documentation from the start. Defining the scope as precisely as possible will help, but per Murphy’s Law, things will change no matter how thorough you are.

So how do you hit a moving target?

This is why regular check-ins and revisions are critical here. After every 2 weeks we found it helpful to revisit the requirements, what had been delivered and what is left. Are we on course? Has the timeline been effected? Adding a sign-able field to these updates is helpful to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Better to be up front and proactive than reactive.

Pro tips:

  • Breakdown your project into smaller increments
  • Regularly revisit the requirements and timeline with you client. Bonus points for adding signatures to these meetings.
  • Have different folks on your team scope your projects independently of one another. Avoids group think and helps catch potential problems lurking on the edge.

Setting boundaries and establishing clear project parameters

Being firm about what is included and what is outside the scope is key here. This was difficult for me at times when running our agency, as I always wanted to strive to make our clients happy.

There’s a line somewhere, and it differs for each agency. As a rule of thumb I think it is okay to be 20% more strict than you normally would re what is considered outside the scope. Agency owners want their clients to be happy, so our neutral state is probably too friendly to scope creep.

After having a few projects get derailed by scope creep, we started being upfront about the consequences when scope creep occurs. We would talk about this at the beginning of a project to ensure our client was on the same page.

What to do when a client requests additional work ➕

Identifying and addressing scope creep in real-time

Death, taxes and scope creep. No matter how much prep you do, scope creep can seem unavoidable. Being proactive is key here since waiting to address scope creep compounds the eventual effect.

Review the last agreed upon scope, look for any deviations or additional work that has not been documented. If you identify scope creep, communicate it with your client and work with them to determine the best course of action. This may mean negotiating additional costs or adjusting the timeline.

These conversations can be difficult, but the longer you put them off, the worse it will be.

Wrapping it up 🌯

Scope creep can seem like just a cost of doing business, but how you handle it and how often it happens is in your control.

If I could tell my former self one thing, it would be to communicate scope creep as early as possible and don’t be afraid to stand your ground.

Have you ever experienced scope creep on a project? How did you handle it, and what lessons did you learn from the experience? Drop me a message and I can include you when I post this to our blog.