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Scope Creep and $$$ – Methodology Matters!

In our industry, bridging the IT gap that exists between a client and your team can be the make it or break it point in your success or failure. More often than not, your clients don’t know much about what we do for a living. And if they think they do, then they probably know just enough to make them dangerous.

We created HyperPMA to bridge that gap. But it is not enough. We have found that an educated client is the best client. And because of this, we take our time to ensure the client understands what “Agile” and “Waterfall” means. Not only do we have to be agile in our planning and prototyping phases, but we also have to be agile in the methodologies we employ to power a project over the existing phase’s finish line. Sometimes this can be a moving target. Herein lies the quandary.

Most of the clients we run into in the freelance world are looking for a fixed price. And in that case we are looking for a fixed scope. However until the client has visuals to accompany that scope, we have found their wants are a moving target. In order to accommodate this, we make use of a hybrid development method which takes agility and applies it to planning and prototyping. When the client is comfortable with the prototype, then we apply waterfall development strategies to make it happen.

In the beginning we tell the client that we ESTIMATE the cost of the project will be x. However that is a fluid number based upon what is added to or taken away from the project. This gives you the ability to be flexible as you plan and wireframe their project. It gives your client the ability to be free with their thoughts and ideas as well.

Once we complete all of the wireframed layouts for each view of their project, we link them all together so they can experience a simulation of their project. And that’s where the hidden “gotchas” are fleshed out. We have found that working in this agile manner and classifying wireframes as paid planning instead of production, has eliminated more than 90% of the scope creep we have experienced in hard scoped fixed price projects. This methodology saves innumerable hours lost in a typical fixed priced format.

When the prototype is approved, THEN we write and lock in that final scope of work based upon their final approval of the wireframed prototype. All that remains to put the project into afterburner mode is a final cost and contract addendum. Once this is approved, and the home page graphic design is good to go, we can fly through the project.

This methodology addresses the real world scenario of dealing with technically illiterate clients who are DEFINITELY going to have changes to scope. It also addresses the necessity to upcharge when necessary without a lot of resistance from the client. They don’t feel blindsided. And most important of all… they pay their milestones with a smile instead of dread.

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