Scope creep. See also, kitchen-sink syndrome, requirement creep, feature creep and focus creep.
Scope creep refers to the uncontrolled changes in a project scope.
In short? It’s where the margin disappears.
Scope creep is problematic all year round for agencies, but as we head into the seasonal Christmas project frenzy, the implications for scope creep become increasingly likely as the pressure mounts for both agencies and their clients, with projects managers and delivery teams pushed to achieve more in shorter, more urgent timeframes.
I’ve covered scope creep before in articles and my LinkedIn events, and every time, I come back to the same thing.
Scope creep can only be controlled if ambiguity is tightened, and to do that, you need to go back to basics.
Here are a few ways to make sure you avoid eroding your margins in the run up to Christmas (and beyond).
- Get back to basics – be clear on project scope – make sure you have a great, approved scope of work
- Train your clients to appreciate what you do and the value of it
- Teach and build collaboration between your team and your clients
- Train your team (and support them too)
- When you have a positive experience pushing back on a client, make sure you share that with your team so everyone learns from it (and has the confidence to follow suit!)
The pressure on your project management teams is going to increase over the coming months. Clients will expect more and unless your team is robust, well trained and supported then their workload is going to feel unbearable. Teach your teams to be honest with your clients about scope and budget, train them on how to create a great scope of work document, make sure they have access to a change order form if and when scope creep happens and importantly empower them to know they have your support to push back and demand clarity from clients.
I’m planning several more detailed posts about acknowledging and preventing scope creep over the coming weeks, but for now it’s worthwhile keeping in mind that your team is likely to feel the pressure, but you can put things in place to make things easier (and avoid margin erosion).
Every Wednesday I book out an hour to hold a FREE agency leaders surgery. If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues. You can help yourself to my calendar, here. Speaking to a diverse group of agency leaders helps me stay current and contextualise the issues I’m seeing with my clients. So please see this conversation as a genuine collaboration where we both hope to learn something new.