Businesses experience scope creep when projects become more complicated and challenging than they were intended to be. Usually, this occurs when a client expects new features or extras due to poor communication or documentation. It almost never includes an increase in payment, leniency on deadlines, or the addition of resources. It’s also one of the biggest pitfalls for small businesses and freelancers.
If you’re freelancing and creating content for multiple companies and clients, you might find yourself running into the problem of scope creep. It’s inevitable.
Of the possible outcomes of scope creep, none are good. You may wind up with an upset client; decreased profits, or even a loss; and difficulties meeting deadlines.
So, how can you avoid this dreaded project disease when you’re in the freelance business trying to blog or copywrite your way to success? Here are three simple preventative measures.
Step One: Make Contracts Clear and Airtight
In the early days of freelancing or small business work, it’s tempting to jump into projects quickly. Many freelancers assume they can trust the client based on a basic project outline and established cost sent by email or discussed over the phone.
This isn’t true.
Your clients don’t understand mistakes or poor communication. They hired you as the expert. That means they’re pretty clueless about your job.
They may think that blogging or copywriting is something that can be done quickly and effortlessly. In order to help these poor wayfarers, you need to make a crystal-clear contract that specifies both what you will do and what you will not do. If you need help writing airtight contracts, you might need to consider hiring a lawyer.
Your contract should do the following things:
- Outline time frames.
- Establish the payment schedule.
- Identify additional expenses if the scope or features of a project change.
Step Two: Hang Onto Everything
Do you have phone calls discussing the project details? Record them (with permission, of course) and store them. Do you have contracts, faxed messages, invoices, or outlines? Keep them in a folder. Keep them safe.
How about emails? Never, ever delete them. Use email hosting that allows you to keep all your mailed attachments, messages, and more in an archive. Archiving is a powerful feature that is mandatory for hanging onto documentation.
Step Three: Use Professional Project Management
There are many affordable project management systems available on the web. These range from fully customized cloud databases like Sales Force (pricey and awesome) to pre-constructed CMS systems like Inside Sales (affordable and pretty cool). If you’re collaborating with others, using project management is important.
By using a project and contact management system, you can easily see all communication at a glance; provide appropriate documentation; and share notes, comments, and files with other team members working on a project. Plus, these “time stamped” note entries will hold up in court if scope creep ever gets to that point.
They can also check on your progress and how many pieces of content you’re pumping out. Giving them a good feel for your time management will help prevent them from overloading you unnecessarily.
You know what they say: “An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure.” These preventative measures are easy enough to put into place and simple enough to understand, but executing them nonetheless provides phenomenal results. After all, one blogging/copywriting project that winds up with scope creep will give you more of a headache than following these steps hundreds of times.
Take the initiative to setup your freelance business so you can avoid the conflicts associated with scope creep.