The creep that loses you 10-15% of revenue.

Don't let this creep get the better of you! What is it, what causes it, and how to overcome it? Read on…
Gillian Laging
4 mins

What is it, what causes it, and how to overcome it? Read on…

It’s a known foe of project managers.
Larger businesses need dedicated people (even a team!) to keep it under control.
It’ll take down freelancers and small businesses if it gets half a chance...
Who am I?
Scope creep.

It’s a common problem in project management that can have serious consequences for a project's timeline, budget, and overall success. It occurs when the scope of a project, or the amount of work that needs to be done, begins to expand beyond the original plans and specifications.  

There are several factors that lead to scope creep, including a lack of clear communication, inadequate planning, multiple stakeholders, or changes in project requirements. And, because there are many variables at play, scope creep can be difficult to identify.  

Worse yet, scope creep can be difficult to quantify. Changes in scope are often gradual and may not be immediately apparent to everyone involved in the project. This can make it difficult for those leading the project (whether you’re a project manager in a large team, a freelancer, or an agency owner) to recognise when scope creep is occurring and take action to prevent it from becoming a bigger problem.  

But this creep isn’t done with you yet.

It can have a domino effect on other aspects of the project. If the scope increases, more resources such as time, money, and personnel will be needed to complete it. Leading to delays, cost overruns, and stakeholder management challenges with your team and particularly with your client.  

Scope creep can also have negative impacts on the quality of the project. It is either indicative of, or can even be the cause of,  a lack of focus and direction. Without clear project objectives it’s difficult to measure success, and delivering on unclear expectations can make it impossible to satisfy your customers.  

Left unchecked, scope creep costs businesses 10-15% of revenue.  

If you’ve owned or worked for a company that delivers products and/or services, you’ve felt this pain.  

So, how do you overcome a foe that can be difficult to detect, is caused by a myriad of different factors and is challenging to quantify the cost to your business (i.e. making it hard to prove this is a priority to solve). 🧐  

For the lucky teams with dedicated project managers:  

Strong communication and planning skills are paramount. Project managers must be proactive in communicating with stakeholders to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that project requirements are clearly defined. They should also use project management tools and techniques to create detailed plans and schedules that outline the work that needs to be done and the resources that will be required.  

Clear project objectives are critical so that project managers know when to adapt to changes in project requirements, and when to push back. This may involve revising plans and schedules, or making adjustments to the project team to ensure that the project stays on track. Importantly, if the project scope does need to change, capturing the value of these changes is critical to ensure the work is correctly invoiced and the team does not do more work for the same investment.

It’s trickier for smaller teams where the people delivering the work are also managing the project:  

Again, project objectives must be front and centre to act as a reminder to both client and business that additional requirements don’t always serve to improve project outcomes. Processes for change requests should also be in place – it’s hard when you have rapport and just want to jump on the phone or send a quick message. But a chain of custody for project requests and approvals will make it so much easier to ensure decisions are made purposefully and invoiced accordingly.  

But Scope creep doesn’t have to be a bad thing!  

Scope creep represents untapped value in every project, for every client. Capturing that value will ultimately benefit both the provider and the client.For clients, your ability to uncover opportunities to improve project outcomes through additional scope can make their investment work harder. And ultimately, if they don’t choose to invest in additional scope – that’s ok too.

For businesses, capturing that value means you don’t stretch your team too thin or take shortcuts to deliver work you’re not as proud of. Plus, you maintain open and honest communication with your client, leading to more sustainable business relationships.  

So, what’s the sell?  

We’ve shared a bunch of strategies that you can use to manage scope creep manually. But, we’ve been there – burnt by scope creep (and on both sides of the table). Sleepless nights, weekends cut short, frustrated and stressed. We were determined to solve this. So we have.  

Enter, Scopey.  

Scopey will help put that 10-15% of lost revenue back into the pockets of businesses, and then some. Scopey helps you quote accurately, create well-defined project scopes, cross-sell, and manage change requests – all in one place.

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