Up today, scope creep and expectation management!

This is something that I learned the hard way, the really, really, really hard way, and it’s really the main reason we ended up building BrainLeaf. The lesson here is that when you don’t have a scope of work scope creep is almost certainly going to happen. When that happens, it’s guaranteed that you’re going to have mismanaged client expectations and really upset people, including yourself.

The Importance of Scoping

How would you like to:

  • Never have an upset client (almost).
  • Always make a solid profit on your projects.
  • Always make your deadlines.
  • Never have mismanaged expectations on projects.

Now You Can.

Since we learned our lessons with scoping and became so obsessive about that aspect of project planning, my agency has virtually no mismanaged expectations, almost never have upset clients, and we almost never have scope creep.

How do we manage scope?

  1. We write out a very thorough scope of work document as the first step in an engagement with a client.
  2. When a client asks for a change, we inform them of how this will affect the scope of work, cost, and timeline.
  3. We bill for changes to the scope of work.
  4. We update the scope of work for the project and send the new SOW back to the client for approval.
  5. We update all timelines and expectations with the build team based on these changes.
  6. Then, and only then, do we move forward with the project.

If you have a thoroughly written scope of work and you always get approval on every single thing, every single time that request is made, you’ll almost never run into major scope creep issues. You’ll also only very rarely run into mismanaged client expectation issues since move of these result from scope creep.

Here is an example scope of work for a website project:

Scope creep isn’t always bad

It is important to note that the client can still creep the scope, and sometimes it needs to be changed. It also generally increases your billable hours. So a little scope creep, as long as it is well managed, is fine. If your client is adding a lot, it is so important to make sure to update them at EVERY CHANGE about their new cost and new timeline. If you do this, and they approve every change, you will rarely have problems with the client. It’s when you don’t that the problems occur.

Otherwise, it becomes a problem, your problem.

This is how things go wrong:

  1. You don’t have an initial, thorough and granularly written Scope of Work (SOW). Usually, this happens because it is time-consuming to write and plan out and people would prefer to just start work. This is the first, terrible mistake.
  2. The client comes in one day and says “Hey buddy, can you change this thing for us?”
  3. You respond “We got it, no problem!” And you don’t change the price and of equal importance, you don’t tell the client the new timeline.
  4. Then the client comes in the next day and asks for another, and another, and another, and then another change. Since you didn’t have a scope of work to begin with for that website project, who’s to say what goes into it? If I were the client, I would think that you were building whatever I asked for and whatever we agree “goes into the project to make it complete.” Wouldn’t you if you were paying a bunch of money for it?
  5. Suddenly your team is overwhelmed and your projected profit margin is negative, and you have to respond to the client saying, “We’re not gonna do all this stuff.”
  6. But now the client’s getting upset because the first time you did it and you didn’t explain what they could and couldn’t have in the project because there wasn’t an initial scope of work to say what exactly you were going to do. Now, you’re stuck.
  7. Everyone is upset, you’re losing money, and you’re in a spot where you have to compromise. It’s a terrible spot to be in.

That’s a huge problem.

If you’re in this spot and you’re reading this article, hopefully you realize that you did it to yourself. Here’s an article on how not to let this happen in the future!

That’s why you need to scope your work. It keeps all of that from happening.

All that said, if you need help scoping your work, that’s what BrainLeaf does for you.