101 Ways to Elevate – #54 Avoid scope creep at all cost

Number fifty-four: Avoid scope creep

Good day. I'm Troy Dean from Video User Manuals and Agency Mavericks, and this is the 101 Ways to Elevate Yourself and Demand Higher Fees: a practical guide for WordPress consultants to start attracting better quality clients, work on better, more interesting projects, and get paid better fees. Now let's go elevate.

Number 54: Avoid scope creep at all costs. Okay, let me define scope creep. Scope creep is when you're halfway through a project, and the client calls you up and says, “Look, we've just been chatting here internally, and we've realized that we need to add x, y, z to the website.” Usually what happens is a web consultant at this point will say, “Okay, no worries, look, let me just have a look into that, and I'll get back to you.”

And then what happens is you do one of two things. You either get back to the client and say, “Yeah, look, no problem, I've had a look into that, and there's not much work involved, so we can definitely add that.” And you don't feel confident enough to charge them extra. Or you'll say, “Yeah, look, we can add that, but it is going to cost x amount, you know, extra.”

And the client might say, “Well, you know, how come? I mean, that shouldn't take that long to do that.” I mean, maybe they've Googled around.

And I actually had a client once say to me, “Why are you charging me extra for that? I mean, it only takes five minutes to put a Twitter button on your website, you know. How come you're charging me extra? And my answer to her was, “Well, if it only takes five minutes, why don't you do it yourself?” I actually did say that to the client.

So the reason that I . . . there are two reasons you should avoid scope creep. First of all, you don't know how the new features that they want to add to the website are going to affect the development that you've already done. You can't just add a membership section to your website without it affecting other parts of the website. Like, for example, which menu shows to people who are logged in and who aren't logged in. There's all sorts of variables that need to be considered.

The second thing is if you add one feature during the process of building a project and you don't charge for it, you set a dangerous precedent, and it's a waterfall effect or a domino effect, if you like. They will just keep adding features.

So if a client wants to add a new feature, my standard response is, why, how is this helping us achieve the goal that we originally set out to achieve? And if it's going to help us achieve a new goal, one that I wasn't made aware of and one that we haven't spoken about, then that's going to require a new quote because there is new value being added to the project. And that's going to cost new money because it's new work. If it's not going to help us achieve our goal, and we just think that we should do it because it's a good idea, then I would avoid doing it.

I would say, “Look, we need to finish the project that we've started to help you achieve the goal that you told us you had. Let's go back to the original proposal that we submitted. Let's go back to the original prototype that we built, the original proof of concept that you approved. You've approved the design and the development of this site. This is the website we're building. We need to finish this before we add any features. Once this is finished, once this project is done, I'm happy to talk about any new features that you want to add to the project. But while we're in development of this project, I'm hesitant to add new features unless those features are going to help us better achieve the goal that we've already outlined.”

Now, if, for example, this new feature is going to help you better achieve the original goal that you have decided with the client is, you know, the purpose of the project, then really you should have figured that out first. I mean, you should be the one suggesting features, not the client.

So, in a perfect world, you'll have the goal determined with the client, you'll know what features are required to deliver that solution, and there's no room for scope creep. Clients generally want to add features because they've discovered something halfway through that they think is a cool idea, but it doesn't really help them achieve their goal. Usually what happens is they get enthusiastic, and they start to move the goalposts.

And that's when I draw a line in the sand and say, no, no, no, no, we're building this project to achieve that goal. Once that project's done, I'm happy to revisit it and happy to add new scope and give you a new estimate. But I'm not going to start adding features while we're in development because, you know, that's just not the way we work.

If a mechanic is working on your car, giving your car a, you know, 50,000 kilometer service, you can't say to the mechanic, “Well, you know, hey, while you're in there, can you just, you know, add some speakers in the back end and put a subwoofer in the backseat?” Well, sure, but I'm going to have to charge you extra for that, okay.

So we're here to do a job. We're doing the job. You're paying for the job. If that job changes halfway through, then we need to requote. In the next video, I'm going to talk about previewing early. Until then, go elevate.

Make sure you subscribe to the 101 Ways podcast in the iTunes store. Just search for 101 Ways to Elevate. Or visit us at wp101ways.com and download the free 101 Ways ebook.

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Troy Dean

Troy Dean

I am the Founder of Agency Mavericks. The reason I get out of bed every day is because I love helping people to grow their web design or digital marketing businesses. I do this through coaching, creating courses, speaking, consulting and heading up our awesome community.

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