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Avoiding Scope Creep

Have you ever done much more work on a client engagement than you originally intended, without having the ability to raise your price?

If so, you may have experienced "scope creep." It's not the title of a nightmarish horror movie, but it can be a nightmare for the seller of services who lets the size of a project run wild.

Avoiding Scope Creep
How does scope creep happen? If you're a writer, the client asks if you could just add one more paragraph or one more page, or perhaps reconsider your approach. Or the client asks for seemingly endless rounds of revisions, and you've said nothing in your proposal about how many you might be willing to do. 

Usually the scope of a project grows because the client simply came away with a different idea of the assignment than you did. In some cases, however, the client may not know exactly what they want, or they may have too many decision makers, which leads to confusion.

For both sellers and buyers of services, the answer is to have a clearly defined scope of work. If you are selling services, you should identify what exactly you will do for the stated price, how many rounds of revisions that will include, and how much you will charge for any work that is outside the scope described. If you submit a proposal, include the plan of work there. If you do not submit a proposal (or sign a contract) send an engagement letter with the information.

If you are purchasing services, it's important to figure out your purpose, who your audience is, and what end-result you envision. If you have trouble with any of these issues, call a writer or other professional, who can give you some ideas and who, at the very least, can help you ask the right questions.

It's also important to designate a single person (or a small number of people) in the organization who can deal with the vendor and who has a consistent idea of what the company is trying to achieve.

For both buyers and sellers, having a detailed scope of work will save both time and money and will reduce any possibility for misunderstanding.

All the best,
P.S. Remember: a selection of my past newsletters is available online at http://www.holton.cc/archive.html.