Self inflicted Scope creep
Any freelancer knows that scope creep can be a problem. Having a solid contract in place can be crucial to maintaining your business afloat and your rates intact. So why are we so willing to sabotage our own businesses with self inflicted scope creep? I can tell you something, it’s not intentional.
I make it a requirement that any new client sign a contract outlining all the deliverables, terms of payment and what’s expected from each party. It’s the least we can do to protect ourselves when taking on new work.
Depending on your personality, and the solidity of your contract, you may find yourself investing more hours in a given project than you would like.
This happened to me only last week. I was redesigning a client’s product and I’d outlined one concept, with two revisions allocated before needing to either renegotiate the contract or kill it stone dead. Up until now this has served me pretty well. What I discovered is that the wording is too “loose”.
What is a revision?
In my mind a revision is (was) an adaptation of, or modification to a design. This perhaps could consist of minor layout changes, colours, adding or removing elements, etc etc. What I hadn’t really considered was a client saying, ”We’re going to need a complete reworking of this, our needs haven’t been met…”
How does this translate? It translates as a complete redesign, no adjustments or modifications, out with the trash and start over.
In this instance I was happy to repeat without raising the issue as it was a gig I really wanted, and I was still convinced I could sway the client and be on track. What I hadn’t planned for were the hours I’d be investing in this second iteration. By the time this version was complete I’d spent just under 20 hours on the project, I’d allowed for 10. My rate was halved, my stress levels were doubled and I didn’t get the contract.
Sometimes we deliver more than promised. We want to please, and we bend a little more than perhaps we should, I think that most of this do this. What we shouldn’t do is to put ourselves in a position where we are spending 50% more time on a project because our contracts were to willy nilly.
I caught myself out by having a nice contract. While the scope was outlined, it wasn’t specific enough. If there’s one thing we should be valuing as freelancers, it’s our time. Poor judgement or shoddy contracts can cost you a lot of this.
So, don’t make the same mistake I did. Be very specific in what you consider a revision, or a version, a concept, a rework or any other line item that can be interpreted to mean something else . The client is fully within his rights to ask for this work if you’ve been lax enough to let it slip through the net, and you’ll have to do it with a smile on your face.
“A lesson learned…bla bla” means you’ve wasted valuable billing time. Avoid it, at all costs, begin with your contract!
Edit* Many thanks to the comment left by David Carse, who bought this fantastic video to my attention. It’s a talk given by Mike Monteiro of Mule Design. In this video, named F*ck You. Pay Me, Mike talks about the issues surrounding client contracts, and the importance of getting it all down in black and white. It’s well worth a watch.
Mike Monteiro, F*ck You. Pay Me.
A talk about client contracts and the importance of a water tight contract
Photo Credit: Spessium