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Here's Two Ways I Prevent Scope Creep From Ruining My Web Design Projects
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Here's Two Ways I Prevent Scope Creep From Ruining My Web Design Projects

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Hey guys, John here for this weeks edition of this Freelancing Friday.

Okay today I got a great question from one of my subscribers Bonnie, and Bonnie asks,

“Hi John, I'm working on quite a large site and just between you and me it has grown substantially, since first starting off. This is my first Wordpress site, I usually use Joomla and hire team members from elance to do the coding. One of my team members has been helping me but there has been so many changes that I am having trouble keeping the whole project together and staying on track. It probably needs a magic wand, but I figured you might be able to recommend a way for me to bring the project back on track. Looking forward to your advice, regards, Bonnie".

Great question Bonnie, thanks for sending it in. Let's get straight into it.

Okay, now this question touches on something that affects all of us, as freelance web developers, and that is – scope creep. For those of you who haven't heard that particular expression or term, it's essentially where the project – you sit down with your client, and you map out the details of the project itself - and over time, as the development begins, the user requirements grow. So the actual scope of the project increases, and that's why, essentially it's called 'scope creep'.



Now scope creep is something that I struggled with to begin with because I was always trying to accommodate the client by saying, “Sure I can add that in”, or “Yep, that's no problem, send it over”, and it turned out to be something that was a continual nuisance – it cost me a lot of time, and in many cases, I wasn't paid for the extra additions, or the add ons.

If you're not careful, scope creep can ruin your business. Especially if you make the mistakes of trying to accommodate the client continually like I was, when I first got started. So I'm going to go over 2 ways that I prevented scope creep, and I was able to put a lid on it, so to speak in order to prevent projects from getting out of hand.

Firstly, in your initial meeting, make it well known to the client that it's essential that you try and get everything out to begin with. This means educating the client in terms of what's needed, such as user requirements. If possible, send them your survey, or questionnaire, and have them fill that out before the meeting – there's actually one included in my freelance web design business kit.

Get as much information from the client during the first meeting.

Okay, secondly, these are two document templates that I include in my web design business kit, that I'll just go through quickly with you now and explain to you, how they work. The first one is the “Project Specifications Document”, and this document allows you – once you've received all of the information during the initial meeting, you've got the user requirements, they've filled out the survey – you've gathered all of the information, you've returned to the office, you've put together your proposal, you've put together your quote and your contract – I include this document, with those documents when I forward them back to the client.

The whole purpose of this project specification document, is to outline exactly how the project will be put together. Now in simple terms that means – all of the inclusions – everything that was discussed and requested during the first meeting. So this is a way for you to itemise, everything that's going to developed or designed, as part of the project itself.

Okay, for small tasks and maintenance, I use what's called a “Work Order Form”, and this essentially is just a light version of the project specifications document. Again with the work order form, I'm including deliverables, I'm including the time frames, payment terms, the agreement, deliverables, acceptance criteria and also – the exclusions.



Now when you use documents like this, it protects you from scope creep. Because if a client has gone through a list of deliverables, within the project specifications or the work order, before the work has started, and they've signed off upon that, then there's no way, they can come back later and say, “Oh, we didn't know that wasn't included”, or “That's not what you said during the meeting”.

So these documents essentially become your safety net. They protect you from continual requests or add ons, once you've already started work, because let's face it, that becomes really annoying and it causes delays.

In the past, I have worked with clients that have said, “I don't care what the project specifications document says, we need this stuff added on”. Now if that's the case, be sure firstly to bring their attention back to what they signed off upon within the contract, the proposal – and either the work order form, or the project specifications document, and just remind them that that's what they agreed upon.

But if they're persistent and they still want to perhaps add something on, consider staging the project. This may not apply for smaller tasks and maintenance, but for building new sites or large projects, I would typically say to a client, “Okay, that's fine, let's just finish what we have here first, and then we'll revisit perhaps – we'll have a second meeting, or a follow up meeting once everything is in place, and we can follow up the project specifications, with a work order, and we can add on those additional things, in perhaps a stage 2 of the project".

Essentially, what you're trying to do is set boundaries so that you can meet your completion dates. That's what's really important – you've got to set limitations, you've got to be firm, and you've got to remind the client that, “Hey, unless we stick to what we agreed upon within this documentation, the contracts, the work orders and the project specifications – unless we stick to that, we're just going to be going around and around and around in circles”.

Okay, just to finish up, all of this documentation, all of these document templates are all included in my web design business kits. They're all provided in ready made template format, so you just fill in the blanks with your details, client and project information, and you're ready to rock n roll.

That's it for today's video, if you have any questions or comments, please post them below. If you haven't yet already, please subscribe. If you've found this video useful please share it with your friends, and if you have a question you'd like to send over, please do so and I'll answer it for you in a video just like this one.

Thanks so much for watching, take care.

Author
John Romaine
Freelance SEO Consultant, Web Designer and Internet Marketer.

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