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Preventing Scope Creep


You’ve landed a retainer engagement and work is underway. To boot, your client pays on time. It all goes fine until that moment when the client has a new problem, or maybe a new shiny object to chase, and suddenly that new project is injected into your nice, clean project. This is what we call scope creep.

Realistically sometimes things change but if the scope of work (SOW) isn’t focused or the project begins to balloon into something new, we’ve got some tactics to help you maintain focus and keep the client on the same page.

What to do? Here’s a quick checklist of tactics that have worked before:

  • Your contract and proposal process may have been informal but always provide a SOW so that expectations, deliverables and goals are clearly established between you and the client.
  • Set-up a monthly meeting to review SOW and progress toward goal to date. Frame how adding to the scope will extend the timeframe and potential resources needed to hit the project delivery date.
  • If the problem is in the shiny new object syndrome, outline that discussion in a new SOW with its own quote. This addresses the project as a new opportunity independent of the ongoing work. Doing so subtlety reminds your client that the initial project is also important to them and needs to see completion. Moreover this framing highlights that you are not a full time employee to whom additional projects can be assigned and thereby asserts your worth by establishing the value of your time.
  • Develop a project timeline or operating plan that demonstrates the value of the new idea sequentially after the current project.

What’s work for you? Join us, we’d love to hear from you.