Scoping projects and dealing with scope creep

D. Keith Robinson shares a few good tips on Scoping Projects. Scoping is probably the hardest part of most web projects. At least that’s my feeling about it. It’s so easy to forget something - both as a designer/developer and as a client.

One thing that I’ve learned is that you need to be very careful and selective about which clients you make last-minute or repeated changes for without getting paid extra. Some clients realise that you’re doing them a favour and won’t take advantage of it, while others will keep requesting changes until you’ve spent so much time on the project that your profit is completely gone.

Keith ends his article with a few random tips on project scoping:

  • Beware the “fun” project.
  • Beware the “easy” project.
  • Stick to your guns.
  • Be flexible, but protect yourself.
  • Give yourself extra time.
  • Realize that a perfect project doesn’t exist.

Posted on December 16, 2005 in Productivity, Quicklinks


  1. I’ve found it handy to develop what I call the “scope-creep dance”. When a client starts making out-of-scope requests, what I do is place my hands over my ears, bend my knees, leean forward, and then hop from side to side, squeaking “Scope creep! Scope screep!” in a Fagin-like voice. If the client tries to interject, I simply repeat the words, but louder, over the top of what they’re saying.

    It may be a little unorthodox, but boy, it makes them leave me alone pretty quick.

  2. December 16, 2005 by Maarten

    Does that really work? Boy i should try that dance next time!

    How is your welfare application coming along?

  3. December 16, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Hah! I haven’t tried that one yet.

  4. So true so true. We have one customer who knows they are favours and repays them on occasion by tossing us the odd non-related project.

    We also have another customer who kept mailing in lists of demands, often contradicting some earlier change. That is the customer we will eventualy have to put down.

    Also: Why do custmers, who paid for a content managemt system, keep mailing in textual changes?

  5. Scope Creep… Just say no. It wasn’t in the spec so if you want this done, expect a delayed release.

    Sticking to guns is very key here. Good call Roger.

  6. Why do customers, who paid for a content management system, keep mailing in textual changes?

    YES! Why do they do that? And it’s usually little tiny changes that you can’t really charge for. I inform them that they’ve already paid for the ability to make these changes themselves, but they just say “yeah but we’re dumb so we want you to do it”. I swear they haven’t even tried. So now I tell them that maintennance is a minumum half-hour charge. They don’t seem to care too much and getting paid for it takes the sting off it.

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