110 – Dealing with Scope Creep

110 – Dealing with Scope Creep


Main talking points include:

What is scope creep?

Scope creep is the term given to the process of free work being included in an agency project. This might be additional services, extra work, things becoming way more complicated, or any other unforeseen circumstance.

What does scope creep happen? 

In my experience, scope creep normally happens because the agency hasn’t been thorough enough in leading the process for the client and itemising the deliverables. This could be both in terms of the actual work to be delivered, or the schedule, or both.

As an agency, it is our job to lead the client through our process. Things that may seem completely straightforward to us, may not be to the client, and assuming any part of a project can be dangerous for either side. With a few processes in place, however, scope creep can be overcome relatively easily.

Dealing with scope creep with different types of projects

Small projects – tweaks, fixes, new functionality, etc… 

In our agency we have 2 approaches to small projects:

  1. Quote by an hourly rate and invoice when the work is complete.
  2. Sell “blocks of hours” (normally 10) and then take the time off these When the client is approaching the end of the block, we let them know.

In both of these instances, time tracking is key. We use Clockify to track all our time on projects and have zaps set up so that projects are created as we manage things in ClickUp. ClickUp does have time tracking functionality, but we fund Clockify easier (and it was set up before that function was available directly inside ClickUp).

Mid-sized projects

A mid-sized project is something like a small website – something that is relatively straightforward and therefore doesn’t need a scoping exercise (coming later).

In our estimate, we itemise all the deliverables as far as we can reasonably project them. This includes:

  • The number of templates
  • Any additional or modular functionality
  • The process in terms of design
  • Things we will NOT be doing (i.e. population)
  • The allowance for training
  • Etc…

These items are all set up in our estimate template, so it’s quite easy to whip through and alter them as necessary.

We then have a clause in our terms that reads: “SO… Digital Communications has attempted within all possible reason to make this estimate as accurate as possible. Should anything unforeseen arise, or the scope of the project change, SO… reserves the right to amend this estimate at any time inline with our standard studio rate of X.”

Also note – we send estimates – NOT QUOTES!

Large projects

For large projects (and we are generally speaking 5 figures or more) we offer our estimate alongside a scoping exercise. The output of the scoping exercise is:

  1. A Design Specification Document
  2. A technical Specification Document
  3. An Information Architecture.

We normally charge around 2 to 3 days for the scoping exercise and documentation. With the completion of the documentation we ask the client to approve (and sign) all three documents, and we provide a revised estimate. This estimate is then associated with the specification documents. Should the client ask for anything that is not included in the documents throughout the life of the project, we then deal with them as a standalone project using one of the methods previously mentioned.

That’s right, with large projects, we get paid to write the final estimate…


All our retainers work on a time allocation per month. We use clockify to manage this time allocation and then operate it using the methods above. Should the client ask for something “mid-month” we estimate the time and negotiate with the client to either bounce something we were going to do to next month, or do it as a project through either a block of hours or a project estimate.



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