The planning budget may be the worst. Crawling to scale can fall short of schedules and destroy budgets.

The best way to avoid this chaos is to look out for scale creeping causes so you can better manage your projects.

But we all know that things will go off track at some point, and we have some advice on how to manage these creepy issues when they happen.

The most common causes of scale creep

design scope to sneak

The best way to control scale creep in design projects is to avoid it. For the most part, there are a few common reasons. If you see any of them, it may be a red flag that may have problems with the project.

Crawling the scope can include anything from moving dates to adding websites or functionality. All major structural changes to a project are considered creepy, as are many small changes that can halt or clear the project.

  • Incomplete design information or project information
  • A misunderstanding between you and the client about the time or complexity of the project
  • Moving forward without timetables or milestones
  • Unexpected problems with the project, such as a rebranding, an acquisition, or a vision for a new team
  • Missing customer deliveries to promote design
  • Low priority for the project
  • Cuts or communication problems in the design or editing process

Some design elements that can form a creep of scale are (if they are not part of the project from the beginning):

  • You will need new photos or videos to design your website with each version
  • Add pages or templates
  • You need a blog or different blog features
  • Includes e-commerce
  • Writing or developing online content
  • Transfer content from another website or service
  • Social media settings and management
  • Website maintenance
  • Email services
  • Search engine optimization or search engine optimization

1. Start projects with a kick-off meeting and an agreement

design scope to sneak

Getting a project off the ground with the right foot can take a long way toward reducing or eliminating creep.

A stable inaugural meeting sets expectations, goals, and schedules for the planning project. The agreement shall describe the performance and fines or fees related to the changes or late deadlines.

This will give you something to come back to if the scope fades. You can direct the customer back to the contract to see what changes to the project might cost and how to proceed. Stable startup protects you and the customer.

Introduce deliveries and deadlines to both sides of the contract

2. Keep Plan B

If the project slows down or stops, do you have a backup plan ready?

One of the biggest creeping problems is the impact it can have on the entire project workload and workflow. So don’t have Plan B ready. If the customer is hesitant about their deliveries and deadlines, explain what it will do to the schedules and what changes will be made in advance.

Creating a backup plan can make scope management much easier if (and when) it happens.

3. Enter the A La Carte menu for add-ons

Scope creep is a natural part of projects. It happens as they evolve and change. As you deal with it more, you’ll probably be able to predict where it will come from.

Create an à la carte menu of pricing for these products that customers know in advance.

We’ve all had a customer who sees something new somewhere else and wants it included. You know what general queries are, and you can offer them as part of a design package and quote, or later as add-ons as needed.

Clear and transparent communication and pricing can eliminate potential problems between designers and customers if the scope wears out.

4. Communicate regularly

It is OK to say “we can do this, but it will increase the cost of the project”.

It is also OK to say that it will change the project execution schedule.

Make sure you are in regular communication with the customer so that everyone understands what changes are being requested and how they will affect costs and time. No one likes surprises about projects; keep communication cables open.

5. Negotiate new requests

design scope to sneak

During the project, there are some new requests that you can initiate or that may come from customers.

Some of these elements may make sense to tell the customer, but do not charge for them. They may not affect your timeline, but you want the klint to know about the added design element.

It’s good to negotiate when it comes to creeping in scope, maybe a design change eliminates the need for something else, or you can work together to achieve a price or a custom timeline. The goal is to be flexible enough to keep the customer happy, the project progressing, and there will be no detrimental costs to you.

6. Manage deadlines early and often

Some designers set schedules and milestones with a lot of deadlines. Many smaller deadlines can be more manageable and help you see the scope fade before it changes to renew the scope.

Some clients also tend to like many check-in points because it gives them a sense of project events and increases the sense of ownership.

7. Don’t sweat the little stuff

design scope to sneak

Don’t get caught up in small design changes or questions.

Crawling to scale is not always a bad thing. It can improve projects as more ideas enter the process. Plan changes or elements that don’t really affect the work you do, change the timeline or entity, manage changes on the fly.

You don’t have to charge for every change or negotiate any new elements. Weigh the value of providing a good customer experience for your project relative to actual surveys and don’t sweat the little stuff.


A report by the Project Management Institute shows that about half of all projects target some scale. No matter how well you plan, it works happen at some point.

It is manageable if you think calmly. Do you have any other good tips or suggestions for managing scale loss? Share them with us on Twitter at @DesignShack and@Helsinki


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