Think about this for a second. Think back to the last time that you had a project in which the client pushed scope. How many times has it happened that they only pushed the scope once? Chances are the problem came to be in the form of what I am now referring to as the “Wave Model.”
The wave model
WAVE 1 – The initial warning
In relation to weather, this would be the beginning warning signs such as increased wind speed and darker skies. You may encounter this first stage in the form of a vague email that asks a question regarding something that would fall outside the scope of the project. Or it could possibly come in the form of a phone call where the client begins asking exploratory questions.
WAVE 2 – The first encounter
This is the first bit of scope creep that you encounter. It may have been the item that the client had hinted toward in the initial warning stage, or it could be something completely different. This bit of creep however will come bundled with (and this is the most important part) one or more of the following terms: Quick, Simple, Easy, Small, etc. You know doubt know these terms and probably have come to loathe hearing them as they usually lead into the next wave.
WAVE 3 – The flood gates open
This is where we see the additional requests start rolling in, things like new features or requests which of course have other mandatory tasks which are necessary to implement the initial request. This is where we start to see the waves build as the requests start to build on top of each other, which in the worst case scenario can lead to the final wave.
WAVE 4 – The Perfect Storm
Hopefully you never reach this stage, however it has been known to happen from time to time. This is the project that you need to put on hold and have the dreaded discussion about quoting the project all over again. This is the project that has gone so far out of control that it appears that there is no end in sight.
All joking aside, this can be a grueling and potentially dangerous route to head down. Designers should learn how to read this situation so that they can do their best to avoid it and steer clients back on track as soon as possible. Learning to steer clients back on track and avoid scope creep can help a designer avoid unprofitable jobs, and awkward conversations with clients. This also will keep you in good standing with the client and allow you to maintain a great working relationship.