The first step in any project is defining what exactly the project entails. This is known as the ‘scope’. For a lot of projects, that scope tends to expand - or creep - and the job ends up becoming a lot bigger than we initially thought. For many firms, this represents a considerable problem.
However, imagine a world where a client moving the goalposts was a cause for celebration, rather than a massive headache. Believe it or not, with the right processes and practices in place, you can make that a reality.
When scope creep is a problem
Creep tends to become an issue when the scope in question hasn’t been properly defined in the first place. If you don’t clearly spell out exactly what’s included in your quote, then a ballooning list of tasks can represent a real problem.
Extra revisions or expanded projects can decimate your project profitability if you’ve not made it clear those things will incur an additional fee.
If, for example, all you’ve told the client is you’ll build them a website, they’re technically within their rights to keep coming back to you with new ideas for extra pages or revisions.
That soon becomes work you’re doing for free and can have a detrimental effect not only on that project’s profitability, but on resource allocation across your projects and, consequently, delivery timelines for other projects.
When scope creep is an opportunity
On the other hand, making it clear that the website consists of 10 pages from the get-go means that, if the client decides they in fact want 30 pages, you can actually get paid for that extra work.
After all, if you’re in the business of selling time and the client wants more of it, you’re onto a winner.
Actually, it’s often far easier to increase the services you’re providing to an existing client (and thus increase the revenue you’re earning from them) than it is to win a brand new customer.
What’s more, you could suggest some great ideas of your own to expand the project further. In that case you’re initiating some scope creep yourself, potentially turning a £10,000 project into a £20,000 project.
And whilst we’d caution against becoming over reliant on one or two key accounts, it makes sense to expand the earning potential from your projects by suggesting additional work that will provide your clients with extra value.
In order to do that, though, it's vital that you thoroughly define the scope in the first place so it’s clear that any extras will come at an additional cost.
In conclusion, you can ensure scope creep is a welcomed opportunity rather than a giant pain in the proverbial by simply supplying your client with a detailed quote that sets proper boundaries. For more on how to do that, check out this article: