How to avoid scope creep

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How to avoid Scope Creep


A while back, I was hired by a company to assist them with their website. We sat down over a great cuppa java and hashed out a game plan for what was to be a relatively small job.

As per usual, I outlined all the project's details in a proposed scope of work, along with a quote and payment time-line. Client approved the details, appreciated the timely manner in which I would submit the deliverables, and cut me a cheque for the deposit.

As the project neared completion, the client began submitting requests to also "just add this" and "quickly do that"... all of which were not 'quick/simple' tasks, nor included in the agreed upon scope of work.

This scenario – commonly known as scope creep – is absolutely frustrating for all, and can be the death of a potentially great business relationship if not addressed early on.

Avoiding the Creep – is it possible?

Two of the major causes for scope creep are insufficient planning and communication.

Rushing into a project almost always leads to an oversight of website requirements, which then invariably creep up during the development phase.

As a client and web developer, you want to do all you can to avoid scope creep. With that being said, and even after thorough planning, it can still rear its ugly head. So, with avoidance being somewhat beyond control what is one to do?

The solution is actually quite simple: expect the unexpected.

Prepare for the Creep!

Upon entering into any web development agreement, both the client and web development company need to take a long hard look at the website's needs: its objectives, functionality requirements, and future growth. No stone should be left unturned.

Before moving forward into a binding agreement, both client and web company should discuss the scope of work to confirm a mutual understanding of the details, and that it addresses all the website's needs as they understand them to be.

Finally, the web company needs to ensure the client that while the project is under way, they are free to request additional work be done, but that there will be additional charges for any work rendered which is over and above the Scope of Work.

A web developer may wish to include the following terms in their web development agreement:

"…should the Client choose to make changes which are not covered by the Scope of Work, additional charges will apply at the Company's labor rate of $XXX.XX/hour."

Taming the Creep.

Sometimes even the best laid plans can give way to surprises. Trying to tackle scope creep without a game plan will lead to resentment and frustration for both the web developer and client alike. Be prepared. If you are controlling it, it is not controlling you.

With the web developer and client both understanding and respecting the terms set out to manage scope creep, a business relationship can begin to flourish where a website's emerging and evolving needs are not a hindrance, but considered a natural part of the development process.

Posted in Website Development

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