Scope creep on digital projects

Managing digital projects is a bit like managing young kids at the park, all fun until they stub their toe.

Scope creep is often the biggest issue for any digital project, espeically around the building of websites and complex databases.

For me, it’s all about educating the client and the industry that there needs to be some rules for both parties, so you are still talking to each other by the end of the project.

The first thing to do is to make sure you scope out the project in full with a functional and technical specification.

Build some initial budget into the project proposal early on to show that you are serious about getting all of the client’s business requirements into a wire framing software tool. This visual functional specification document will be the thing that your coding and development team actually end up building and it’s better to get paid for this early on to show just how much work will go into the project.

Always get feedback a long the way on your scope of works and make sure the client understands that this is what you’ll be building. Get the client to also sign off the scope in writing, prior to starting any design or coding work.

Scope creep generally occurs when your development team think they have finished the project, but the client feels they need more features. We often explain that these new features that are outside of the scope, can go in to the next phase of work, or the “wishlist”. You can then quote this up and charge for this as it wasn’t in the original scope.

If the client is inflexible and wants you to put everything into the project at the eleventh hour, even if it wasn’t in the signed off scope and functional document, then have an urgent face to face meeting and explain your position. Often face to face works better than shooting off many late night emails.

A good tool to use for scoping out a digital project screen by screen is called Balsamiq. Check it out, it might just save a few headaches on your next project.