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By Kristin Ellison | Thursday, August 29, 2013

Save time and money by managing project “scope creep”

Everyone dreads “scope creep.” That’s when a project keeps expanding, either due to endless revisions or the addition of new work that wasn’t part of the original plan. To avoid it, be up front with clients about the number of changes covered in the fees that you’ve agreed upon. Additional work and/or revisions can certainly be accommodated, but you’ll need to amend the original agreement so that you’re fairly compensated for it.

What qualifies as a revision? What’s the difference between minor changes and substantial ones? You’ll have to define the line between the two, and make it clear to your client before you begin work; add this definition into the Terms & Conditions section of your agreement.

Negotiating with clients on project revisions is important, but many find it uncomfortable. Even when terms have been clearly spelled out, many designers are unsure of how to approach their client about scope creep, for fear of losing their business. But if the client has agreed to your terms ahead of time, it’s your right and responsibility to remind them of the terms in a professional manner, and to follow up with a change order.

To avoid unplanned scope creep in your projects, be sure to watch Terry Lee Stone’s course Running a Design Business: Designer Client Agreements. She’ll walk you through the basics of writing consulting agreements, introduce a pricing equation to estimate your costs and charge appropriately for your work, and show you how to manage the complexities of client relationships so that both you and your time are protected.

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