Scope Creep will derail your Web Design Project

Visionary “Founder” clients are often very successful because they take risks. They work on groundbreaking ideas that take months and may not come to fruition for years. For some Marketing Agencies creating a forward-looking website can be very fulfilling. But one of the pitfalls of working with a visionary on a project is scope creep.

Scope creep happens when web design projects grow beyond the bounds of time, cost and quality.

Most visionaries will admit they will jump into a simple project that solves a problem right now and it suddenly becomes a long term project that takes the company in a new direction and cost thousands. Unfortunately, this often results in a huge scope creep web design project that fails to launch. “Visionary Scope Creep”, occurs when the client disrupts the timeline or requests unforeseen changes. When working with visionaries, disrupting the timeline can include an unexplainable desire to push the site live before it is ready or failing to deliver on mundane QA requests in a timely manner creating a domino effect of delays.

scope creep defined

By nature, a visionary client will offer a continuous flow of design changes that seem small to them but are in fact large backend development tasks. If the marketing agency does not have a strong project management procedure to handle new requests, the marketing agency will be chasing its own tail. Since most visionaries have strong personalities it may feel easier just to choose the path of least resistance and make the changes requested. However, if you continue this practice without question it will deplete the project of precious time and money.

An example of this type of request is, “Please add a search bar”. To a client, a search bar may seem like a simple element found on most websites that would be effortless to add. However, adding the search bar will likely include reworking some of the most complex areas of the site such as the header and navigation. With a visionary leader, the desire to add search functionality to the website will not stop there. The next request will be to add sorting and filtering to search results. Be warned unless you contain the scope of the original web design project adding search functionality will mushroom into reinventing Google.

By the time a visionary has built a company they have experienced the pain of watching many of their greatest ideas “die on the vine”. You can help your client avoid this pitfall by carefully documenting what is included in each web design project. When presenting a project plan to a visionary leader take the extra step of documenting what functionality and features are NOT included. Setting this expectation helps the client visualize the boundaries they must work within.

Here Are 4 Tips To Help You Avoid “Visionary Scope Creep”

  1. Be aware that your visionary client became successful by “coloring outside the lines”. Even if you set great expectations, a visionary will still try to add forward-looking functionality that is not included in the original scope of the website. When your visionary clients presents you with a new idea for the website design that they feel they must have no matter what, suggest to turn the new request into a new smaller project that is independent of the initial scope. Explain that small projects have a much greater chance of success and project managers will often split large projects into smaller ones just to ensure that the full genius of their initiative is fully realized.

  2. Present an estimate for the changes, as soon as practical. Your client may become frustrated about adding additional cost. Remind them that the project had a defined scope and the changes represent more work. Remember for a visionary their real frustration is they cannot effortlessly explore their vision unimpeded – The Marketing Agency needs to manage this expectation.

  3. As the project progresses keep all new requests in one place. It might help to use a project management software solution or just keep a spreadsheet of the change requests. Next to each requested change, document the hours and cost associated with it. Document whether the new change request is part of the original scope or being diverted to a new smaller project. Make sure to share whatever tracking solution you choose with the client so they can visualize how their vision is impacting the project.

  4. Because visionaries get bored easily when presented with web design project details they may want to turn the project over to someone else in the organization who is very good at driving a project to completion. This is often a welcome change for most marketing agencies. However, make sure to keep your visionary client in the loop. If you do not, rest assured they will stall the project just before launch because the new site falls short of their original vision. An easy way to do this with with CCing them on important emails.

If you are a marketing agency working with a visionary client on a website design project, let us help you take it from concept to completion.