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How to Avoid Scope Creep in Your Project

July 08, 2020 in Guides

Every company that operates fixed-price projects knows scope creep. It often starts small – perhaps a little extra here or a small change there. Before long, you might be five, ten or even a hundred hours beyond the original scope.

For obvious reasons, scope creep can have an immense impact on both project budget and success. Let’s break down how scope creep can be avoided.

1. Plan Ahead

Although this point might seem obvious, planning is crucial. And – almost always – it is impossible to overplan, yet all too easy to underplan. During the project planning phase, ensure that the entire project’s scope is fully defined in as much detail as possible. Sure, leaving some grey area or wiggle room might have its benefits down the road, but it can just as easily cost you.

With a well-defined scope at hand, a project manager can easily identify work that exceeds a project’s scope without complaints from the client.

2. Record Everything

Balancing hours spent against hours budgeted is important to ensure a profitable project. Equally important is the act of recording all scope overages, as maintaining this record will provide the foundation for change orders and/or additional billing.

Even if you don’t end up billing extra for these overages, tracking scope creep can provide valuable insights into the profitability in a project’s final breakdown. These insights can help refine bids and project plans in the future.

3. Use Change Orders

When something extends beyond a project’s original scope, a valuable tool for officiating the additional scope – and cost thereof – is the Change Order. This can be as simple as a one-page agreement that describes the change, outlines how it affects budget and timeline, and requires a sign-off by both parties. Despite its simplicity, a Change Order can be fundamental in maintaining a clean and above-board record of a project’s evolving scope. What’s more is a project can have any number of Change Orders.

4. Get Approvals

In projects that have multiple phases or stages, such as a website design, it is often recommended to get sign-offs at key milestones. For example, if desktop UI designs are completed, it can be a natural point to ask for client approval before proceeding with further designs or development. For this reason, TaskBranch has a built-in client approval feature that requires a client’s signature before a project progresses to the next phase. If the client requests changes after this point, proving scope creep can be much easier with client sign-offs in hand.

To summarize, a project’s time, budget and scope success comes down to one thing – communication. This includes everything from keeping transparent records to communicating each change’s effect on scope. Online project management platforms such as TaskBranch offer a centralized, intuitive and real-time environment to keep project communication open and progress on track.


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TaskBranch is a cloud-based project management suite that makes it easy for digital teams to manage multi-phase projects in one place.