Setting Benchmarks to Prevent Scope Creep

By Bob Speyer and Justin Delos Reyes, Web Success Team

Scope creep. It’s not a 1950’s horror film creature, but marketers run for the hills (or want to) when it surfaces. To put it nicely, scope creep is any unanticipated change in a project’s scope of work. Often times it frustrates the parties involved and can also warrant unintended charges. Scope creep is an unfortunate occurrence that is likely to surface when business is conducted. But if there’s one positive about scope creep it’s that it can be managed. Below are 10 benchmarks you can set to help you deal with scope creep.

1. Define Goals and Objectives

Before you start any project, it’s imperative that you have a clear understanding of your client’s goals and objectives. Have an in-depth discussion about what they want to achieve, and more importantly, write it down!

2. Set Realistic Expectations and Deliverables

If your client requests a service that you can’t fulfill, tell them you can’t do it. Being honest about what you can and can’t do will save both parties a lot of stress and frustration. Especially when the project is well underway. Equally important is for the client to have his budget match his scope of work. Setting realistic expectations will help create a more positive outcome.

3. Define and Delegate Tasks

Who is going to be responsible for what tasks, i.e. for writing and editing content? Whose job will it be to supply images and videos? Determine who is responsible for what so fingers aren’t pointed and goals are met on time.

4. Establish Timelines for Deliverables

Create a project timeline based on the scope of work. Break it down into phases (one, two, three, etc) and realistic deadlines for materials to be given by the client and when they can expect finished tasks or phases. Not only will this give your client peace of mind, but it will keep you in check if you get side tracked.

5. Meet Regularly

Communication is key to a successful business partnership. Arrange a time for you and your client to discuss the project, either online, in-person, or on the phone. Although you might send emails to each other on a daily basis, it’s a good idea to put everything out on the table once a week. Do not be afraid to critique the process, but suggest ways to improve the communication and expedite the deliverables.

6. Get a Stamp of Approval

If you want to implement a strategy that was not included in the contract you agreed on, get  written approval before you proceed. Written approval can be as simple as an “OK” in an email reply from your client.

7. Establish Cost Parameters

The price you put on your services can, but do not have to be, the final amount you receive for your services. But if you’re going to charge a client for something (maybe you want to add another page to their website or they insist on making changes), they need to know how much it is going to cost before the item or strategy is implemented.

8. Assign a Project Manger

Things can get messy if multiple (3 or more) people are involved with a project. There needs to be one person that every team member can run ideas past and get approvals to proceed or modify the original scope of work. Again, this will save a lot of stress and frustration for both parties.

9. Track Your Work

In order for your client to know they are getting the most bang for their buck, you need to track your work. Whether that’s through analytics or creating a content grid of your daily progress, you need to show that your deliverables are being met.

10. Be Open to Change

Change is inevitable. In order for a project to be successful, both parties should keep this in mind throughout the partnership. Doing creative work is the not same as building a house. There needs to be flexibility since external factors are likely to show up. During the development process or campaign, additional creative promotions may result or a strategy may have to be tweaked as one gets deeper into the project. Making recommendations during the process will show the client you are thinking about their account and not just implementing by rote.

Bonus: Debrief

Once a campaign or project is completed, ask for an assessment of your work and make suggestions on ways to improve productivity. Plus, share any recommendations you have to increase conversion, generate more traffic and leads.

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