How To Avoid Scope Creep

value pricing Mar 24, 2020

My students are constantly asking me how they can avoid scope creep, and there are a few things that I always tell them.

But before I tell you what those things are, just so we are on the same page, let’s start by covering what scope creep actually is.

Let’s say you agree to do some work for a client, and you agree on the fee you are going to charge, but then as you work through the project, it ends up taking you longer than you thought and you don’t actually make a profit on the job.

That’s scope creep.

Scope creep is when the work takes longer than you expect.

It’s partly a pricing issue, partly a project management issue.

I’m going to share with you a few ways you can deal with it.

If you prefer, you can watch the video here.

What Causes Scope Creep

You can’t deal with your scope creep until you have identified what is actually causing it.

There are essentially 4 main types of scope creep:

  • The Unexpected Problem: When you first scoped out the project to work out a price, you probably didn’t ask the right questions, so problems have cropped up unexpectedly that you haven’t factored into your workload.


  • The Unfulfilled Promise: You scoped the project out correctly, but the client misinformed you, or they haven’t delivered on something they promised they would do. This causes you extra work that you didn’t plan for.


  • Project Extensions: Something happens that, you couldn’t have seen coming when you scoped out the project. Perhaps the business grows over the course of the project. Perhaps you priced bookkeeping work and 6 months down the line the business has doubled in size and there are more transactions. Or you priced payroll and the business takes on more staff.


  • Separate Projects: You start some work, but during the course of the project the client asks you to do something else. You don’t want to say no and upset your client, so you just go ahead and do the extra work for free, when really it should have been priced separately.

Scope creep tends to fall into one of these 4 categories, and it usually happens without you noticing it.

If you add up all the hours at the end of a project and discover you’ve gone way over what you thought, it becomes really difficult to then start asking for more money from your client.

Being aware of the ways in which it tends to happen will help you to avoid it.

1 - Communicate With The Client From The Start

You need to deal with scope creep at the front end - the pricing end.

Make it very clear to the client in your Fixed Price Agreement, what work the job entails and what is outside the scope of work.

2 - Communicate With Your Team

Once the client has agreed to a project, you have to communicate internally within your team.

Make sure your whole team is aware of exactly what is included in the job and what is outside of the scope of work.

3 - When Scope Creep Arises

When scope creep arises, you need to know what you are going to say to the client.

You can create some scripts, and have your answers prepared so that you know exactly how to respond in the right way. This way the client won’t object because they will see it as fair.


If you want more help with pricing your bookkeeping services, or if you have a small accounting firm and you want to increase your prices and improve your business model, sign up for the Bookkeepers' Pricing Academy.

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Wishing you every success on your pricing journey.

Mark Wickersham

Chartered Accountant, Public Speaker and Author Amazon No.1 Best Seller, “Effective Pricing for Accountants”

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