Stop Scope Creep

creeping kudzu imageYou know what happens.  A client comes to you and says, “it’s an easy project,” or “my project is ready to go” – I just need design or layout or final touches.

You quote a price.  You agree on the details and you start work.  Then, suddenly, the little, easy project starts growing.  It sends out shoots, leaves, branches, and pretty soon your simple project has turned into an invasive weed that strangles every native plant in sight.

You’re stuck in scope creep.

How to stop it

Your contracts should say what is and is not included in your work.  Spell out the number of design mock-ups, revisions, or tweaks that are included.

If they expand the project, or want revisions beyond the original agreement, politely tell them that more work will require an additional fee.

Be clear about your fees

Tell them your fee structure.  Spell out how you bill, and when payments are due.  Make it clear what the client’s deadlines are, as well as  your own.

Tweaks vs. Revisions vs. Rewrites

A tweak is a small thing, such as changing the word green to the word blue throughout the document.

A revision is changing the header size, number of columns or making alterations on several pages of the document.

Think of a tweak as changing your shoes.  A revision is putting on new shoes, different socks, and a fresh shirt.  A rewrite is a whole new outfit.

Tell the client, in advance, in  your contract, which is which and how you charge for each.

Extra work for an extra fee

My favorite advice stopping scope creep comes from Men with Pens: Sure, since we’ve already used up the revisions we agreed to in the original scope of the project, I’ll send a Paypal request for $___, which will cover those tweaks.  I’ll have the revision to you by next Tuesday.

You’ve killed the weeds.  Now the client has to decide if those last changes are really worth extra cash.  If they are, you earn a few extra dollars, and you won’t feel taken advantage of.  If they’re not, the client can decide it’s not worth it.

Everybody’s happy.  Nobody feels used.

Image thanks to: taberandrew