26 May

Nearly every freelancer has been there, you are working on a project for a client, and over time the client wants to do something very different from what you originally signed for. This is one of the most frustrating parts of the contractor-client relationship and if handled wrong, scope creep can end up with freelancers and independent contractors badly underpaid or wrecking their relationship with their clients. 

If you’re self-employed and working with clients, scope creep is likely to come up quite a few times in your career. UASA’s Independent Professional Sector has put today’s blog to address this issue and help you identify and deal with scope creep when it arises in your projects. 

What is Scope Creep? 

Scope creep refers to how a project’s requirements tend to increase over the project’s lifecycle or when a client wants more functionality for the same price, e.g. what once started as a single deliverable becomes five. Or a product that began with three essential features now must have ten. Or midway through a project, the needs of customers change, prompting a reassessment of the project requirements. 

How to deal with scope creep?

Be vigilant from day one

As a freelancer/consultant you must handle scope creep by saying yes or no to new requests as soon as they come in. Start this habit at the beginning of a project and then stick with it every day until the project is completed. It is important to communicate how far you are willing to go and also making sure that you provide clear reasons as to why you are saying no, or the conditions for accepting the new additional work.  

Understand your client’s vision

Ending well means starting well. Even before you get to project requirements it is important to understand what your client hopes to achieve from the project: 

  • • Why is it a priority? 
  • • What is the end goal? 
  • • How are they planning to achieve it before you were involved? Or how is your involvement going to help achieve the goal? 

These seem like simple questions but failing to understand your client’s vision can result in many issues apart from scope creep.  

Include a process for changing the scope

Define how the changes will be done and who will do them. Empower a limited number of people to request scope changes and an even more limited number to grant them. Address the process of getting additional payment for any scope changes. 

Is there an upside to Scope Creep? 

Scope creep can have an upside that can help you out as a freelancer/consultant. With a properly written contract, added features can produce new revenue. When the request is made, you calculate the additional hours of work and allow the client to sign off on the requested work and additional payment. 

Your scope creep then becomes the customer’s cost creep. 

UASA’s Independent Professional Sector can help you draft a contract to include clauses that protect you against scope creep and other problems faced by freelancers. Visit our website for more information. 

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