I love reading Miles, talented web evangelist and one of my favorite authors. On Sitepoint, he hit the nail right on the head… story of my life! and, maybe, yours, too… I just wanted to copy and paste Miles‘ here:
10 Ways to Tackle the Scope Creep
It’s one of the big profit and motivation killers we all tackle regularly. Scope creep. It even sounds like a creepy monster, doesn’t it? So, how do we avoid it?
Here are my ten tips to skip the scope creep:
Your proposal or agreement should state in black and white what you will and won’t do. For example, every proposal I send outlines in detail what functionality is included, what content will be placed, and how many design iterations will occur.
Mention the monster
The same document should explain what happens if and when that monster pops its head up. For example, my proposals state that both parties have the right to assess changes to deliverables, and revise the budget if required.
Track your time
Do you really keep track of all your time? I’m talking meetings, phone calls, andthose fiddly three-minute favors for the same client. List and track them all; you’ll be surprised how quickly the hours add up.
Keep a track of changes
Sure, it may only be a ten-minute tweak to a logo, or half an hour liaising with the client’s IT supplier, but these tasks weren’t anticipated, and therefore should be added to that change list.
Mention the changes to the client
Even if you don’t expect to charge for that twenty minutes of additional code you wrote, you should let the client know you did it, and the effect on your time. They’ll appreciate the notice, and be more mindful before making further changes.
Speak up sooner
Don’t wait until the monster is wrapped around your neck — mention it as soon as it enters the room, and set your boundaries now. Setting boundaries at the end helps nobody, particularly you.
Put it in writing
It’s easy to say on the phone that it only took ten minutes. Put it in an email, and it becomes more real. It also becomes easier to track, and you can remind a client who has had one favor too many what you’ve already done for them.
Instigate change requests
They really helped me. Now, when a client asks for a clearly outside scope task, I write up a change request, which states why it’s out of scope, and what the financial impact is. You’ll quickly find less changes coming in as a result.
Get it signed off
When the design is approved, or any approval is given, seek a signature or written confirmation. Having the client sign a form makes them acutely aware they have now agreed to conditions. They’ll be less likely to change their minds when you have a signature to wave at the beast.
Have some buffer
It’s obviously a waste to spend ten minutes writing up a change request, or typing an email to confirm a two-minute change. Add some buffer in your budget and the timeline from the start to cover those miniature monster sightings.