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Avoiding Scope-creep on Web Projects

Scope-creep is when requests for changes or additions grow outside the requirements and price of the original project agreement. Website projects are the most susceptible to this. It can be simple as extra pages or complicated like adding a login area. The resulting problem isn’t just financial, but often delays. Why? And what can we do about it?

Just the tip of the icebergReason 1: Technical Misunderstandings

When working on the original outline of the project you should discuss specific functionalities to include. Most of us, as website users only see the front end and don’t understand much about the magic behind the scenes that makes it work. Like an iceberg something can seem deceptively simple on the surface, but there’s a lot underneath. There’s often more than one way to do things, and your web developer will choose and plan out the approach they think most suitable. If the client changes their mind on what they want, or either realizes the solution doesn’t quite do what was wanted, changing tack midstream can mean redoing a lot of work.

What’s the answer? Do your utmost to ensure both sides are clear on what’s wanted and what it will actually be. Understand the difference between behind the scenes and user experience. Use examples and demos where possible, explain it to each other like your three years old (especially when alternates are suggested).

Reason 2: Unclear Expectations

I could repeat all of reason 1 here, but unclear expectations aren’t always technical in nature. Who’s supplying the copy? Who’s responsible for proofreading and testing? What has to be finalized before we start the next phase? What will you be able to edit or not? We are posting a video for you but do we need to edit it at all? What’s the schedule and what do you need from whom when to meet it?

The answer to this is much like the previous. However, I would expect your web company to take the lead on setting expectations as they’ve been through many web projects and have probably encountered and learned from expectation problems. They have an m.o. for running these projects. The client may have only been through this once or not much more than that.

Reason 3: New Ideas Come Up Along the WayIdeas come up along the way

As we design, write and develop websites either side may discover possible additions or see opportunities for improvement. This can be great and doesn’t mean it was wrong not thinking of it in the first place. Just remember it may add to the cost and time. As mentioned in reason 1, it may be deceptively simple on the surface, but tricky to execute.

The solution? Estimate cost and time to add the idea and make a judgement call. If it doesn’t seem worth the money or the delay – put it on the Phase II list. The beauty of websites is you can continue to improve and expand!

Remember, you’re on the same side.

Both sides of this deal should try to avoid scope-creep from the beginning by clearly defining deliverables and expectations, and should define in advance how to deal with scope creep should it occur. Sometimes the technical explanations can seem like double-talk, but your web developer should explain it in plain English. If it does happen partway through be understanding, talk it through and work together to solve the issue.

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