Project creep, as defined by Wikipedia, is:
A problem in project management where the initial objectives of the project are jeopardized by a gradual increase in overall objectives as the project progresses. The need to achieve the new objectives can overwhelm the capacity of the resources allocated to the project resulting in the project missing deadlines, budgets or failing completely.
In terms of web development, it’s the addition of features/tasks to a website, after the budget and specifications have been approved. Even small changes can add up to a substantial time allotment by the time a project is finished. This is work that is basically done “for free”, because the changes were outside of the budget created in the first place.
Even if you believe that customer service is more important than billing for these small items, it is still important for all parties to understand that time is still time. Every minute spent making changes is a minute not used to complete the project.
- A detailed project proposal that outlines exactly what will be done for the fees being charged
- What additional fees may apply if the project specifications are changed – or added to – after the estimate has been approved
- Keeping everyone up to date on the status of the project. This helps people stay focused on the project over time
- Establishing who has change/approval authority for the project. All changes/additions should get channeled through this person
- Establishing a formal process for requesting changes – i.e. any alterations/corrections/additions to the site must be forwarded in writing by the lead contact person
- If small changes are made at no charge, the lead contact person should be made aware that these changes are not within the “scope” of the project.
Effectively managing project creep is all about communication. Clear, consistent communication with the team and the client will minimise project creep and manage any changes that do occur.