When finalizing a decision on remodeling project, a lot of homeowners will pose one final question, “Can you guarantee me that I won’t have to pay any more for this project?” They have heard the horror stories about a low-ball bid winning a job and then delivering a pile of change orders after the project is underway. Addressing this concern early is part of what remodelers do every day, but they can also be on the other side of the table. So it’s also a relevant question for a contractor looking to update their own marketing efforts. Especially websites!
What is Scope Creep?
If a design project is not clearly defined or controlled, additional items can balloon costs or time required to complete the project. These changes require additional resources and will come as a cost passed on the client in most cases.
More often than not, scope creep appears when a project boundary is so unclear that there is a presumed expectation that something was “included”. We call this “mutual mystification” from both parties, and we want to avoid this. It highlights the importance of a professional, up front approach to project design and management that comes from experience.
Manage a Fluid Environment
Managing scope creep can be a daunting challenge. Especially since projects are more fluid than fixed, certain parts tend to morph along the way. Wikipedia presents the follow list of causes for scope creep.
- Disingenuous customer or vendor with a determined (selfish) policy
- Poor communication between parties
- Lack of initial identification of what is required to bring about the project objectives
- Poor change control
- Weak project management
- Subjective quantification
Some of these items are beyond the control of the parties involved, but the most serious is when a party enters an agreement with a disingenuous agenda. For example, a web developer could give you a quote for $500 and then once the project begins, start holding your website hostage until you accept change orders. This is not just a loss leader business practice, but creates a bad reputation in the community for your business. It is all too common in the industry today and while we can’t stop it, we can all do a better job calling attention to it and being clearer with clients about possible pitfalls along the development road.
Control the Confusion
Make sure that everything up front has been discussed and is laid out in writing. So often, items come as an afterthought that could easily have been attacked with a simple needs/wants conversation. After agreeing to terms, take the time to stay involved and make sure the timeline includes everything you agreed to.
Keeping Everyone Happy
At Lion Tree, we’ve long lived by the mantra, “Everyone’s Gotta Win”. Each player involved has a role and we strive to work together as partners. Believe in each other and be open minded about hurdles that might pop up during the course of design. And when you see something you don’t like, it’s best to pump the brakes before it’s too late to avoid a crash.
The best advice we can give in avoiding scope creep is to shop around and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.