Scope creep dogs both clients and service providers, but it should never be considered the cost of doing business. Scope creep poses an important business risk from both sides and it’s important to take steps to manage it.
In fact, scope creep strikes me as such an important factor that I’ve created a new page on managing scope creep.
Many times, people think they’ve got a problem with consulting fees when where they really need help is project management. That’s why my Consulting Fees Guide goes into detail about managing sticky client situations.
I’ve seen scope creep plague consultants from a range of industries, from life coaches and graphic designers to accountants and lawyers and from carpenters to social media specialists. It’s natural to want to please a client or avoid conflict, of course. And many people get so focused on the excitement of the project or the potential for greatness that they may lose site of the original scope of work.
When I was just out of university and happily working for a firm, I was brought in to help with a software project that had got out of control. The young specialist who’d been leading the project had missed many key deadlines. When I took a closer look, I saw that he’d made several helpful suggestions to the project team along the way. They were excited to have so many opportunities to build cool features and functions that they too lost site of the original plan. On delivery day, they presented what seemed like an incomplete application to us – except that it still had all those cool features and functions. Seeing that the problem was scope creep, I had to set up a meeting between senior management at both firms, go through all the documentation to sort out feature requests, agreement and the lack of money that changed hands. While I hadn’t been involved with the project or its scope creep, I needed to figure it out. I was fortunate to have a fantastic mentor in senior management, so I gained a tremendous amount of information about scope creep. After sorting out the legal and billing issues with the senior management teams, I worked with the service provider to get the project back on track. I appreciated the opportunity to be a turnaround artist and that’s stuck with me for the rest of my career. But seeing how the other young specialist had almost derailed with the project, I also learned how important managing scope creep was. (For the record, the young specialist is now in senior management and very successful in his life and had many other skills and talents that he brought to the project.)
Check out the new article on handling scope creep.