Embracing Scope Creep – An Academic’s Guide

Embracing Scope Creep – An Academic’s Guide

You may often hear the words ‘Scope Creep,’ but what does it mean in practice for academics undertaking consulting projects, and how can you avoid it or even capitalise on it?

Before commencing any work, a clear Scope of Services should be developed to detail exactly what services will be performed, to what standard, by when and by whom. A contract that clearly states milestones, deliverables, and required service quality goes a long way to make scope clear.

When kicking off a project, go over the Scope of Services in detail so that everyone is clear on the interpretations and requirements. Very clear communication upfront is essential, as is identifying those with a general interest versus those with authority to sign off and accept your deliverable, to whom you are ultimately accountable.

As projects progress, the original scope can start to creep away in the swell of enthusiasm as different project team members bring new ideas or stakeholder requirements. It is essential to recognise when scope creep is starting to happen so you can rein it in through a solid conversation or, if the addition is necessary, conduct a contract variation to describe and account for the change in scope fully. If you’re doing more work, you want to get paid and ensure any flow on changes are accommodated.

A common scope of services when academics are consulting for Government or Industry may be to conduct an analysis and provide a written report of recommendations for the client. The key deliverables or milestones may be a draft report, followed by a final report. Even with something this simple, there is ample room for Scope Creep.

If not kept in check initially, small requests can snowball into bigger issues. So, if significant changes come up, we would recommend undertaking a Contract Variation to have it formally recognised as part of your work.

Documenting in your contract and project documents, plus clear ongoing communication will ensure your scope creep is recognised early and provides the opportunity to be renumerated appropriately for the extra work or to avoid it. Recognition early Is vital.

For further information, contact Ellen Bussell, Head of Project Management.

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