Simple Steps to Solve Scope Creep in Your Service-Based Business

August, 2 2023

If you run a service-based business, you may be familiar with the term “scope creep” which is essentially a stream of change requests that come from clients either during or after project delivery. This can be a major challenge for many reasons, not the least of which being your profit margin!

So how do you deal with scope creep effectively and maintain client satisfaction? Here are some tips to help you solve scope creep for your service-based business.

  1. Spell out all deliverables at the start. One of the most important steps to help you avoid scope creep is to be on the same page with your clients about the deliverables at the outset of a project. Make sure that your project has clearly defined deliverables, timelines, costs, and a detailed plan of who is doing what. 

  2. Set milestones for communication and feedback. Eliminating scope creep or change requests requires regular client communication and check-ins on an agreed upon schedule. At each meeting, update the client on the progress, issues, and risks of the project. Solicit feedback and approval at key milestones. This will help you understand and address issues promptly and professionally. 

  3. Be clear on the cost of scope creep changes. Be sure to assess how any changes will affect the scope, time, cost, quality, and resources available to complete each project. If a client is asking you to do work beyond your agreement then that needs to be clearly addressed to avoid an ongoing scenario of pushing past stated deliverables which does not support the health of your business or the client relationship.

  4. Proactively renegotiate terms as necessary. Being proactive at the first sign of  scope creep allows you to negotiate the terms of any accepted changes with the client. Take stock of the scope, specifications, and deliverables of the changes, and how they will be integrated into the existing project plan.

    At this point you will want to estimate the additional time, cost, and resources required for the changes, and how they will be paid for and documented. When you do this, update your contract and SOW to get the client's signature and approval before you do the work!

  5. Secure sign off from clients on scope changes. Updating  your project documentation and records to reflect the changes, and obtain the client's acceptance and sign-off for the completed changes. Implementing the changes can help you deliver the project according to the client's expectations and satisfaction.

  6. Ask for client feedback to refine your process. Each project is an experience through which you can improve your estimating and project management practices for future projects. You should conduct a post-project review with your client and your team to find areas of improvement or vulnerability for scope creep on each project.

When scope creep happens, it can affect your team’s ability to deliver projects on schedule and on budget while also retaining high quality standards. Too many cases of scope creep in your client roster can harm your motivation and your reputation.