Doing work that’s extraneous to agreements causes many complications that affect your productivity and efficiency. It's also a clear indicator that you're dealing with scope creep.
The work of a marketing agency is always closely connected to client expectations. Businesses depend on marketing in a considerable measure, and it’s compounded by the constant state of change in market circumstances.
As a result, an agency's often expected to meet every demand and keep the client's brand on top of their game. This now creates an ideal breeding ground for scope creep.
One of our clients, a marketing agency in LA, was facing that exact situation.
Repeatedly, they struggled to manage client expectations and went over the agreed scope. The cause, however, wasn't as much the client as it was communication within the agency. Because when going on a project, employees didn't know the details about cash flow and how much money went into their projects.
In other words, they weren't informed about the precise budget.
The solution for this issue turned out to be relatively straightforward: the agency had to change how they launched projects.
The management introduced meetings at the beginning of every contract where the staff would review the essential details. This included the scope, budget, and income for the given project. Simultaneously, the agency defined scope creep as additional work, making it palpable and billable.
This solution proved very effective in addressing the very core of an apparent problem.
Scope creep earns its name because it’s not always as easily detected - it creeps up on a company. And if your business tends to struggle with an amount of work beyond what was originally agreed upon, you might have the same problem.
Here's everything you need to know about scope creep and how to spot it.
What is Scope Creep?
The definition of scope creep is having additional requirements that surpass the agreed extent of a project. Simply put, your team spends more time working on unauthorized parts of a project while the deadlines and budget stay the same.
Naturally, many projects can experience changes that require adjustments or adding new functionality. The problem arises when additional work isn't approved - at that point, you're dealing with scope creep.
Besides working more for the same price, which is frustrating in itself, scope creep can take up valuable time, leading to unmet deadlines. In the worst-case scenario, the authorized part of the project can end up incomplete due to the additional work requested.
Companies, and especially their employees, can be quick to blame scope creep on the client's requirements. Yet, the change in requirements itself doesn't necessarily equate to scope creep - other causes might still be at play.
There are some tell-tale signs that your company's suffering from this problem, and recognizing the signals might lead you to the very core of the issue.
Three Signs That Scope Creep is an Issue in Your Agency
Failure to Outline True Scope in Contracts
The LA agency example showcases a common pitfall that leads to scope creep: poor communication.
While ensuring that everyone involved with the project understands the scope is vital, it all begins with client onboarding and the contract.
The best course of action is to clearly outline the scope in the contract so that there's no room for different interpretations. You should specify the work you'll be doing on a project and address additional requirements specifically.
Will some additional work be included in the agreed budget and timeline? If yes, what is considered acceptable?
Your company might have no problems providing additional work, but it must be anticipated and accounted for, as well as communicated to the employees and team.
No Consistency in How You Collect Project Requirements
The boundaries of a particular project aren't always clear. When those boundaries are blurry, determining the exact scope becomes challenging. This can quickly lead to scope creep.
Project requirements can be underdefined, but the scope could also be too broad to allow for additional work not included in the initial plan.
Also, more people can become involved in requirement elicitation, with each individual coming up with their requirements in such cases. And those additions will usually be scope creep.
Overcoming this shouldn't be challenging, as there are well-defined steps you can take to achieve consistency.
Adopt processes for project requirements. Model and analyze the scope with a focus on prioritizing, tracing, and managing any changes.
Establish models that will define the project scope and use charts and diagrams to clarify the outlines. Scope models can quickly be built through open discussion with the client and within your company.
Collect requirements and categorize them in layers based on their priority and relation to the initial project specifications.
Projects Take Longer Than Anticipated to Complete
The duration of a project is often interlinked with scope creep.
On one hand, longer projects provide more time for changes to the original ideas and the business itself.
On the other, scope creep will naturally bloat project duration, pushing it well beyond the expected timeline.
Although additional requirements can provide valuable results, they'll strain the time and resources necessary for the project if left unchecked. For that reason, it's best to keep your deliverables tight.
A great way to do just that is to divide a more extensive project into subprojects, each with its own requirements and deadlines. If you choose this route, make sure to close those subprojects out as they're finished to avoid any late revisions or additions.
Keep Scope Creep At Bay
Dealing with project requirements and additional input is often a matter of good organization. In the case of scope creep, the resolution entails organizing the project from the start and defining what falls within its scope.
Pay attention to this process and you'll be able to avoid unnecessarily long and complicated projects.