7 Steps to Manage Project Creep
In an ideal world, every project would be on time and in scope. But the reality is that projects morph and develop, and we need to be flexible to our client’s needs – and that means the potential for those two dreaded words; project creep.
There are thousands of articles on how to prevent project or scope creep, but at Velo, we’re not about preventing our client’s projects from changing – after all that’s sometimes how the best projects transform to become ground-breaking. We’re about properly managing that change so that we can ensure that our clients are getting what they need, and also that we have the time, budget and resources we need to develop the project in the new direction.
When the scope of a project increases substantially, frustration can often occur internally and client-side, and that’s when client management and relationships become your most valuable asset. To prevent frustration from occurring, we implement and follow a specific process:
1. Redefine the new scope
We do this in writing and get the client to sign off on it. By doing this, it not only means everyone on our team has access to the new scope to understand how it’s changing, but also that the client can be confident we understand what their new needs and vision are. We also include budget and timing changes so the client is fully up to speed.
2. Hold team meetings
We meet very regularly – sometimes daily on specific projects – to make sure everyone is on board and knows their role. It also means people can bring up any problems early on, and together we can work through them. This doesn’t mean chatting over IM or Skype. It means actually meeting (or dialling in), to talk over the project and the changes required.
3. Be realistic
Sometimes what a client is asking for is impossible to deliver in the timeframe or budget they have given us. We are always realistic with the client, and try and think laterally around the problem – could we phase the project? Could we use alternative functionality and still deliver within budget? Could we use trusted freelancers to help us deliver on time?
4. Have regular client calls (not emails)
In a project of scale, where we’re acting as an extension of our client’s team, it’s important to keep communication flowing so that everyone is up to date and has the opportunity to ask for advice or help. The sooner a question is asked, the sooner a problem can be fixed.
5. Provide a daily status update
Being clear on what was achieved in a day or week is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it reassures the project owner that work was completed and that the project is moving in the right direction. Secondly, it helps to keep the momentum going for both parties.
6. Set up goals or milestones
We acknowledge achievements and set up goals or milestones to help reassure both parties that the project is moving forward and that the time and work invested was fruitful. It also helps our project owner go back to his/her stakeholders with a clear update on what was done and what’s currently being worked on.
7. Always be honest
To preserve trust between our teams and our clients we are always open and honest and consider this a fundamental element of our client relationships. We believe it’s one of the reasons our clients stay with us for so long. While it might sound obvious, knowing what’s wrong is more helpful than thinking everything is right!