Scope creep is a term that project managers often use to describe a situation where a project cost veers outside the original project scope. This can come in the form of sudden changes in project direction or growth in the number of project tasks. If your project experiences scope creep, you are far from alone. Scope creep occurs in up to 46% of all projects, according to the 2019 Pulse of the Profession report from Project Management Institute. For clients, this quickly translates into escalating costs and missed deadlines. The good news? There are many ways to avoid scope creep. Here are some tips for staying on budget, and on time for your next website development project.
Create a Roadmap
This is the first step and perhaps the most important one. Creating a roadmap is a foundational aspect of project management and process improvement methodologies (such as Lean or Agile). A roadmap defines the entire scope of a project before it even starts. Sales teams love roadmaps. It allows them to set expectations early for clients and increases the chances of a full project being done on budget and on time.
Single Point of Contact
Bad lines of communication can lead to scope creep. It’s impossible to keep a project team focused, on task and on budget if anyone can talk to anyone else at any time. This can lead to extra tasks outside project perimeters and confusion as project teams attempt to unravel and interpret different directions from different people.
What works best is to communicate with one single point of contact—often your project manager. All information and requests from the client should flow through this person.
Set Number of Revision Rounds
Every digital agency who has been in the business for any length of time has experienced multiple revisions rounds. Often, feedback on one phase of a project can come in small chunks that escalate, grow in scope and lead to time-consuming revisions. Some agencies take the step of setting a concrete number of revisions in the contract with the client. Try and stay within this number of revisions by consolidating all stakeholder feedback. Remember, anything above those amounts is an extra charge.
Added Functionality and Pages
This ties back to the roadmap, but it’s such a frequent issue in website projects that it’s worth mentioning on its own. Scope creep often happens because a client wants extra functionality or new pages that were not envisioned at the start of the project. Avoiding this requires planning, but by setting project parameters early, then any changes can come with additional costs.
Because many digital agencies bill by time and resources used, scope creep can happen when clear expectations are not set with clients. To avoid this, your project management team should communicate with you directly the burndown of your project and when you’re at risk of overages. Your project manager should also let you know when project tasks are added that were not part of the initial scope. These are just some of the issues to keep in mind when it comes to scope creep. But with the right approach, it’s possible to manage scope creep, which helps both the agency and the development of long-term relationships.