Scope is creep is probably one of your biggest costs, but it can be totally invisible!
You need to be able to spot scope creep when it is happening so that you can address it and adjust your price accordingly. You should never have to make a loss on a job.
Here are 7 common examples of scope creep to look out for…
When the client gives you corrupt data, or they haven’t given you the data in the format you wanted, that is a scope issue.
At the outset of the project, you should build into your proposal or fixed price agreement very clear instructions on how you need to receive the data, and also what will happen if those conditions are not met.
This used to happen to me all the time! Clients would drop off their books and records – and in those days, back before cloud technology, it was all held together in a paper bag!
I’d start the work and then find there would be missing invoices, missing cheque book stubs, missing information. I’d go back to the client and then had to wait several weeks for them to locate that information and send it over. By that time, I’d forgotten where I was at with the work and have to start again…
That ever happened to you?
We need to build a system around that and let the client know what will happen if they don’t deliver all of the information upfront and how your prices might change.
This one isn’t your fault or the clients, but sometime the law changes and that can have an impact on your project.
It may mean that you have to do work in a new way, and it takes you longer – you need to plan for that.
Manage their expectations at the outset and explain that the project you are about to undertake is based on the current legislation. Let them know what will happen if something changes.
This is a common one!
Sometimes, your clients will make all sorts of promises about getting the information to you on time, but as that deadline approaches you see no sign of that information appearing.
Explain to your client what will happen if they miss your deadlines and how the price will change as a result.
Let’s say you are doing the bookkeeping for a business and they started out with 50 transactions a month.
Over time, with your help, their business has grown, and they are now getting more transactions a month.
Just make sure you are very clear with your client at the outset that your price is based on the current circumstances. If the business grows, congratulations! But it will result in more work for you so your price will need to change accordingly.
This happens particularly when taking on a new client who has been doing their own books, their own tax records. They aren’t professionals, so they may have made errors.
You might have to rework some of it for them, and possibly notify the tax authorities – that’s extra work for you.
In your scope conversation with your client, communicate this to them and make sure it’s clear that you may need to revaluate the project if previous mistakes arise.
If you do payroll this one might be particularly frequent for you.
Often what happens is you complete the payroll, send the payslips out to all the employees, and then the client comes back to you and says there were actually some errors in the logged hours. Maybe someone did some overtime that wasn’t tracked, or they forget to clock out and their hours have gone over.
That means you have to do your job again.
But you shouldn’t do it for free because this isn’t your fault. You should charge a price to redo the work. Have that conversation with the client before it happens.
If you discuss it at the outset of the project the client will work harder to make sure things like that don’t happen because they know they will have to pay extra for you to fix it.
When you have systems in place to deal with these common scope creep examples, you can have the conversation with the client right up front and make them aware of what is outside of the scope of your work.
When the client is aware of the consequences, it then becomes a much easier conversation to have when these things do happen.
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Wishing you every success on your pricing journey.
Chartered Accountant, Public Speaker and Author of Amazon No.1 Best Seller, “Effective Pricing for Accountants”
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