Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Scope Creep & Ways to Deal with it


“Can we add this feature?  It won’t take long”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dealt with Scope Creep in the last 6 years as I’ve worked in design & manufacturing.  While you’re doing the job, the client asks you for little extra’s here & there.  Pretty soon you may as well be the equivalent to an “All-you-can-eat” buffet with a new slogan:  “All-the-work-you-can-get”. 

We CAN’T let it happen to us!

I’m the one who knows how long the job will take.  I’m the one who knows how much my time is really worth.  There’s no need for me to compromise on my value. 

It’s not about out & out saying no, it’s about managing the process better.

The bastard only ordered a cheese pizza & kept asking for more
If you are an Account Manager, a Business Owner, a Freelancer, a Graphic Designer – anyone who deals with any kind of project – you really need to consider yourself a Project Manager.  A good Project Manager can handle this sort of thing because they have already got the tools to deal with a customer changing the goal posts.

Tool 1:
Email the customer through a Statement of the Project Scope.  That way you’re outlining everything you’re doing and at that point (right at the start) they can jump in & ask for more features & you can restructure accordingly.  This is also helpful in case they’ve given you an instruction that’s incorrect or you’ve gotten your own wires crossed.

Tool 2:
Create a Change Request Document & send to the client at the start of the project.  It should outline:
-          Whether the timeframe is expected to be affected
-          What is the nature of this change
-          What are the reasons for the change
-          A tick-box next to:  “I understand this may incur an additional fee”

This way, they understand they need to formally make requests rather than a little “Bro, can you quickly do this for me?” 

You might even like to say something like:  “We want to provide you with the best possible service as efficiently as we can.  However, we know life happens at your end and you may need to change the scope – this is OK but it can make it a bit tricky for us as we schedule & balance our workload.  If this happens, please be awesome & fill out this form so we can get to it as soon as possible.” 

Importantly:  Make sure there’s some kind of acknowledgement they understand everything via a signature or ticked box.

And how to make sure they’re reading all this stuff?  The trick is to communicate in as few words as possible & in everyday conversational language with as little head-hurting jargon as possible. 

What about you?  How do you deal with Scope Creep?  Leave me a comment, go on... I reply!

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