Scope creep refers to unharnessed changes that take place in a project’s scope or breadth. Scope creep becomes a slippery slope as original project goals quickly expand, so much so that things sometimes spiral out of control. Scope creep is no fun. In fact, it can be highly detrimental to a business and should be avoided.
Here are steps you can take to avoid scope creep:
- Before committing to the project, sit down at the table with your client and really work hard to get a full and complete understanding of project goals. Initiate a straightforward definition of the scope of work. Ask as many open-ended questions as necessary for you to clearly visualize just what the client would like to result from the project—the desired immediate end result.
- Also, get a good feel for how this project fits into the client’s overall short-term and long-term business goals. Do not be afraid to lend a critical ear to the client’s ideas, as sometimes you can help come up with a more pragmatic project scope. Hold more than one meeting if you feel that there is anything that needs further clarification.
- Once you’ve decided to take on the project, work with the client to produce the most effective action plan possible. Be sure to come to a clear agreement on what the client will be getting in return for the price that you’ve set for your services. And establish the right price. Never assume that everyone is thinking about things in the same way. Informal agreements are a sure way to invite scope creep into the picture, so be sure to put things in writing with a formal contract.
- As the project gets underway, there will likely be a need to make adjustments here and there. However, use caution when contemplating even minor alterations to the original project realm. Communicate with all team members before agreeing to any changes, and revise timelines as necessary. Oftentimes, it will be necessary to submit new estimates to accompany additions to the project scope.
- Communicate, communicate, and communicate. Keep the client well-informed of how things are progressing. Check-in with team members often. Tend to any possible red flags quickly and efficiently.
When you take the necessary steps to understand client goals and fully define the project scope, come to agreement, set the right price, and carefully work through the possibility of making changes to the original scope, you will be much less likely to have your project consumed by scope creep.
Take charge of the situation. Scope creep does not have to be a reality for your next project.