8 Expert Tips to Overcome Scope Creep without Losing Clients
According to a study by Geneca, 75% of IT professionals think that their project is doomed from the start. Do you know why? Regularly changing project requirements leads to scope creep, which ultimately creates a gap between your business goals and project objectives.
Ask any project manager, all of them will tell you that scope creep is their worst nightmare. Fortunately, there are solutions to avoid the scope creep. In this article, we will share some time tested expert advice that will help you in avoiding scope creep and drive your projects to success.
1. Hire the Right Project Manager and Project Team
The first step of successful project management is to hire the best project manager and project team. As Harry E Keller, CEO, Founder and President of Smart Science Education Inc said, “Hire project managers who will have the respect of the developers and who understand what they are doing.” He further adds, “Nothing kills IT projects faster than poor management.”
Having the right project manager at the top is not enough, especially if he does not have the right project team. Ben Lichtenwalner, Senior Manager, Internet and E-commerce for Whirlpool Corporation and founder of Modern Servant Leader said, “The CIO must adequately equip the team with the right people.” You can never achieve project success if you do not have the combination of experienced project managers and a competent project team.
2. Consider Scope Creep as an Opportunity
Before you try to overcome scope creep, you must change your mindset and approach about it. You should think about scope creep as an opportunity as suggested by Alexa Seretti, Business Development Proposal Manager at MAYA Design. In her opinion, scope creep is a business development opportunity in disguise. You just have to look at it that way.
If you think you can deliver more value to your clients than initially agreed, it will do wonders for your business. Be clear about project deliverables and timeline as well as the scope. Never reject client’s requests for more and try to seize the opportunity to build strong customer relationship. It costs much more to attract new customers than to retain old ones.
3. Clear Communication
According to Kirsten Rabe Smolensky, owner of Minerva Appraisals LLC, clear communication is key to eradicate scope creep issue. Due to the dynamic nature of project management, clients will come up with new requirements every now and then. This could make things difficult to manage for project managers and their teams.
To prevent this situation, you should establish a two-way communication and communicate regularly with your clients so that both parties are fully aware of what to expect from each other. A communication gap between clients and project managers usually leads to scope creep, which could push your project towards failure.
4. Collaborate With Your Clients
If you are serious about keeping the scope creep issue to a minimum, then Anshey Bhatia advice is for you. He is the principal of verbal+visual, a company that works on developing E-Commerce experiences. He suggests that you need to be proactive to prevent scope creep problem.
Collaborate with clients regularly on their requirements and get things approved from them. Prepare a document, which you can use as a reference in future if scope creep issue arises. Clients should be clear about what they will get. Online team collaboration tools may help you to collaborate efficiently. Moreover, you should arrange meetings with clients regularly to keep them involved in the whole process.
5. Manage Change Effectively
When you are up against scope creep or managing a dynamic project, effective change management is crucial for success. Jaimin Doshi, principal consultant at AppleTech Consultants said, “Managing changes to the original scope of work is critical to keeping projects under control.”
He further added, “It is important to [use] change control forms to analyze the impact of the changes with respect to time, cost and essentiality.” Project managers are fully responsible for not only tracking these changes but also testing those changes before implementing them. Although, these activities can take a lot of their time but can reap rewards when it comes to resolving scope creep issues.
6. Constantly Learn and Iterate
Founder and CEO of Chime Expertise on Demand, Angela Bradbury thinks that you should continuously iterate and always stay in learning mode in order to get over scope creep problem. You can use your project brief, pricing structure and your term of service as weapons in your war against scope creep.
If scope creep occurs after that, this means that you need to sharpen your saw. Go back to the drawing board and identify the flaws in your project brief, pricing structure and terms of service. Next, devise a strategy to fix these flaws to eliminate scope creep from occurring.
7. Take Scope Creep Seriously
One of the biggest reasons why scope creep negatively affects projects is because project managers take it lightly and ignores it. Nick Coons, technical director of Hyperion Works, IT firm that deals in custom web apps and software says, “Spending the time up front to lay the groundwork and clearly define the scope will help keep the project on track”.
He further adds, “When the client inevitably makes out-of-scope requests, don’t be shy about telling them that you’ll add their request to ‘Phase 2’ of the project, which will have its own scope and cost.” In order to prevent scope creep or manage it efficiently, you will have to push aggressively to eliminate it and follow a proactive approach instead of a laid-back one.
8. Have a Perfect Pricing Strategy
If your project scope is creeping out of proportions, then it will cost you a huge sum of money. Joe Riviello, CEO of Zen Design Firm, suggests that you should have a perfect pricing strategy to cover up extra costs due to scope creep. Instead of preparing a detailed document, that will complicate things further, you should focus on preparing a pricing strategy.
Prepare contracts that revolve around time and material. Even if the client asks you for more than communicated before, you should provide them with that but on condition that they are willing to pay extra for additional time you will spend to deliver extra stuff.
After reading this article, you might realize that overcoming the scope creep problem is not as difficult as many people initially think. With few adjustments in your approach, you can achieve better results. Effective change management, regular communication and collaboration with clients and continuously iterating and learning will resolve half of your scope creep issues. If you have a good project manager and skilled team as well as pricing strategy at your disposal, scope creep cannot threaten your projects.