Scope creep. How to handle and manage expectations.

Project changes will happen

You’ll always have to deal with scope creep. As you improve your craft, more clients want shiny new features. Part of the game. It takes a step-by-step approach to handling requests and a software system for Project Management PM.

Use a SaaS PM system to 10x your efficiency and communication and make the experience easy for your client. A fine-tuned system automates the workflow and sorts the information you need.

Teach your clients, and you prevent scope creep. It’s up to you to drive this through constant and thorough communication.

Prepare in advance

Pre-project, you gave the client a Project Welcome kit that explains your freelance operations. Part of this welcome kit was a section about feedback and reviews. This section describes the feedback loop. You’ll finish deliverables, and they have three days to provide feedback. Then you respond in 2 days. Then they have three days to respond, etc.

Good feedback looks like this.

  • Timely. Keep deadliness or latency causes delays.

  • Specific. Descriptions provide what’s broken, unliked, wrong, missing, or extra. You also want a “reason why” for all these details.

  • Scope oriented. Keep feedback items related to the solution in the project proposal, not personal biases.

What if you sense scope creep or if your client asks for a new feature or change?

  • Listen patiently.

  • Let them get it all out.

What do you say when a client asks for a change?

Here’s your response: “I know you want to do this extra feature, and I understand your perspective. I’ve taken notes and will return to the shop and crunch some numbers.”

Modify this to your style.

Additionally, you say, “I can’t do it now ’cause it would further complicate an already complicated thing. When we finish the project, we’ll prioritize the new feature you want.”

If they persist and insist. Have your client sign off that they agree they’re causing a delay of 2 weeks or months if you want to be a badass.

Instead, you should stay ahead of scope creep with the constant communication and project updates that reveal roadblocks.

What doesn’t work to prevent scope creep?

Create a more comprehensive spec upfront.

I’ve done this for over 20 years, and it constantly changes, expands, and gets cut. It always changes.

You can’t expect the client to come up with all features simultaneously. Then ask them to sign a contract that nothing can change, but hit them with a baseball bat (not literally) when they ask for changes.

Oh, but you’re the professional supposed to pull everything out of the client. You see, it just doesn’t work. Nobody can think of everything upfront.

Change orders.

The problem with change orders is they change the price. Price increase makes the client unhappy. If you make a fixed price high enough to cover these requests, you can easily do them.

Better time tracking.

It doesn’t matter what system you use. There are still people using it, and it’s the people who make mistakes and cause delays with general life stuff.

If scope creep is a problem, you can look into outsourcing. Maybe you need assistance. Check this out for more scope creep information.

Scope Creep
Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

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