How to kill scope creep, complete projects faster and make clients love you for it
By Rob Williams
It’s human nature. There’s was a point in the project where progress stopped — a rabbit hole appeared, a feature bloated out of control, communication tired — and suddenly my two very experienced friends had blown their budget and deadline.
It’s a complex problem. I’m not claiming I have all the answers. But here are some ways to complete project faster.
- Stop jumping into rabbit holes immediately when you find them.
When you’re about to spend 3 hours on something you initially thought was going to be take 30 minutes — stop. That’s when you need to ask yourself if what you’re doing is really worth it. Skip the rabbit hole and look for a solution that takes 20% of the time but delivers 80% of the results.
- Work on the the most important things first.
I’ve been known to get lost in details before I have the basics in place. This puts me in a bad position once a deadline approaches because I’m stuck. If I had started with the most important part of the project, I’d be in a position to trim some of the other stuff and still ship a functioning project. Speaking of which…
- Cut the scope down!
I’ve never regretted cutting unessential features out of a project. Focusing 100% on what truly matters will lead you to build a strong foundation of profitability for both you and your clients.
- Hard deadline, soft scope.
I got this rule from Jason Fried. He says you should have a hard timeline but soft scope. That way, the people you work with can trust that you’ll deliver on what you say. Use scope cutting to gain that trust.
- Focus on the project before the project.
This is always a bigger deal than I realize. Implementation is the thing I focus on but always ends up being the smallest part of a project. Instead do yourself a favor and focus on carefully laying out the project before you dive in. Think deeply about timeline, features, number of people, and monetary investment before I start.
- Bake in 30% more than you need for “unexpected” emergencies.
Let me spoil the ending of your next project. Something “unexpected” will happen — and it’ll make the project take longer than you thought. I use quotes around unexpected because it’s really not unexpected. It happens in every. single. project. With those odds you can guarantee you look like a wizard.
About Rob Williams...
I run Folyo which helps freelance designers find the work they were meant to do. I also host Freelance a podcast about how to be more effective at independent work featuring remote companies like Disney, Basecamp, YNAB, ConvertKit and more.