Scope creep (also known as focus creep, requirement creep, feature creep, function creep, “I’m a creep”) in project management refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project’s scope via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scope_(project_management).
From my own experiences, I would describe it as – small un-agreed change requests made by a client that will gradually eat your momentum for this project. You know those little requests that seems harmless at first and slowly but surely starts to do damage to your moral.
Change requests that were not defined and part of the deliverables that is. Because you use written proposals right?
You have to take the place of your client for a second. It might not be obvious for them that they are indeed putting lots of new works on your shoulder. We’ve all started somewhere and maybe your client is hiring a freelancer / consultant for the first time. They might be used to having full-time employees and used to have their projects evaluate over time, and even shaping the end results as the projects progresses.
On the other hand, you might have lived the opposite. Where a client of yours is constantly trying to add more things to the deliverables. It’s important to recognize when this happen and you have to react with tact and professionalism.
A mistake I did too often when I started doing consultancy. It took me about two months to get my first contract. No need to say that this project costs me a lot in terms of un-paid hours.
I was not confident enough to say no.
First of all my proposal was really too open. I had details about what would be delivered, but in a generic way with not much precise information on what and what not would be included.
One of the great advantages of using a client questionnaire vs. just having a meeting or phone call with your client is to make sure they have put some thoughts on their project.
By filling their answers they are almost preparing your proposal. You have to think ahead and create question to anticipate what they could want more than the original project brief.
Make sure you have a section in your proposal where you clearly define what happens for changes, revisions or new requests. If you are going to evaluate the requests write it down. If you have different hourly rates for different type of tasks, write it.
Have a detailed deliverable section where you define exactly what will be delivered. Create a new section where you can list some items that are not included or items that you think your clients could request. You may even put a price along those items. It’s better to be clear sooner than later.
Immediately tell your client if they do make a request that were not agreed upon. You will be able to point them to your terms and conditions section or the list of things that were not supposed to be included without being paid for.
You’ll find that the business who hired you will understand that your time is valuable to you.
It’s hard for you and the client to exactly get it right on the proposal. Depending on the size of the project it might be difficult for you to predict imponderables.
Knowing this, it’s up to you to judge what you can do to accommodate your client. It will certainly help to shape a trustworthy and solid relationship between you.
By using Osmosis you should be able to reduce or even eliminate scope creep and you’ll love us for that and much more.
How do you manage scope creep?
Ps: The title is an homage to The Simpsons: Sideshow Bob’s Die Bart Die http://youtu.be/dMkzdn2TDuI.