How Not to Have a Website Project That Drags On

It happens slowly at first – a small change here, a new idea from the boss there, then missed milestones and extended deadlines. Before you know it, revisions, project changes, and expectations get out of hand. The new website you hoped to launch this quarter is taking what seems like forever to complete. Your website project has entered into scope creep. Scope creep can quickly lead to project failure – but it doesn’t have to. Together, you and your web design team can set your project up for success from the start and make sure it stays that way. Today, we’ll answer:

  1. What is scope creep?
  2. What causes scope creep?
  3. How can I avoid scope creep?

What is scope creep?

Scope is an essential part of any website project plan. Scope includes project goals, deliverables, tasks, costs, and deadlines. Scope creep is when those requirements, milestones, or features expand from what was initially set — without being accounted for in additional time (or budget).

Scope creep is common and can happen intentionally or unintentionally, throwing your website project off schedule quickly. But have no fear! By understanding how scope creep can happen and identifying easy ways to avoid scope creep, your site will soon convert visitors into sales, on time and on budget.

By understanding how scope creep can happen and identifying easy ways to avoid scope creep, your site will soon convert visitors into sales, on time and on budget.

What causes scope creep, and how can I avoid it?

Scope creep usually happens unexpectedly: the owner sees a website she likes over the weekend and demands design changes on Monday. The project manager isn’t entirely sure what he wants, but he knows what he doesn’t want. The team wants to add a feature.

Let’s dive into typical scope creep problems and solutions:

Problem: Not having a clear scope

Lack of clarity in the project’s requirements and goals can cause significant problems and delays down the line.

Fix: Define project requirements well upfront

Don’t panic if you don’t have a fully-developed idea for the site or just a wish list of features. Choose a good website partner that listens to your pain points, requirements, and vision to create a design that directly supports your organization's goals. Together with the developer, define and outline project requirements, deliverables, and dependencies for every step of the process and ensure everyone on the team is aware of these from the beginning of the project. A well-defined scope upfront helps keep your project on track.

Problem: Changes cause project delays

Your list of changes grows as stakeholders chime in and the project progresses. When there isn’t a plan in place for new ideas, the project results in missed deadlines and blown budgets.

Fix: Establish a change process

Changes are inevitable, and flexibility is critical for every web project. Together with your development team, agree from the beginning of the project on how to handle change. This way, it will be easy to work through changes at a later date. A straightforward change process identifies three things:

  1. What level of changes the team can comfortably incorporate without affecting the scope
  2. When necessary changes mean increased scope
  3. What impact not implementing the change would have

Sometimes the best course of action to a great new idea is to adjust the scope to include it. Other times the best option is to wait for phase two. Either way, anticipating and being prepared for changes can help avoid scope creep.

Problem: No clear decision-maker

Too many cooks spoil the broth. Conversely, when someone is left out of the planning process, they may come in later to ask for changes. Both scenarios can cause delays later on.

Fix: Have the right stakeholders at the table

Define your website project team and determine roles upfront. Work together to understand how to define issues and problem-solve – and who has the final say. Make sure stakeholders understand the deliverables, deadlines, and dependencies. Lay out what impact unexpected changes or feedback will have on the scope—whether financial, visual, or related to timeline. Collaborate closely with your developer and schedule regular check-ins to see the work in progress and remain proactive.

Goodbye to the creep

No one wants a website project to drag on, yet the biggest threat to project success is scope creep. It doesn’t have to be. Your website is a team effort, and we are here to make sure your web project is on time and on budget from the first kick-off meeting to go-live day. Let’s get started.

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