Advice: ‘Scope creep’ is your worst enemy

scope creep in app projects

Advice point: Avoiding scope creep in app projects.

If there is one thing to learn from this website it is that not writing some kind of app project brief at the very start of your journey is just asking for trouble.

A lack of clarity at any stage of the project is not ideal. At the beginning of the project it is disastrous, and here’s why.

The little weed that keeps on growing

If you’ve ever had a garden you’ll know all about weeds and how, if you don’t deal with them when they first appear, they can grow. Most of the time they grow way more quickly than you would ever expect and before you know it, the small little seedling you spotted a few weeks ago is now a deep-rooted plant.

The real problem now is that the visible plant is only half the story. Any gardener will tell you the only way to deal with weeds once they have grown is to thoroughly dig out their entire root system. If you don’t, the weeds will simply grow back and you’ll have to waste more time dealing with the issue again.

What has this got to do with my app?

Good question. Weeds behave in exactly the same way as a thing called ‘scope creep’. If you haven’t heard the term before, it is the term used by IT project managers to describe what happens when a project either hasn’t been appropriately specified and the original specification has to change, or when extra functions and requirements are added after the original specification has been agreed.

The similarity with our plant-based friends is that, just like weeds, scope creep has a habit of spiralling out of control very quickly and what may seem like a simple thing to deal with on the surface usually has a whole hidden world of problems underneath.

It’s never just one thing

Extra requirements on a specification have another similarity with weeds. Somehow, when they appear, they don’t just do it alone. They get lots of other scope-extending buddies growing alongside them.

Why is this important? Surely you just want to get your app project right and it takes what it takes, right?

To a degree, that’s correct. But scope creep means costs for you. And nine times out of ten it also means your project delivery time will be extended too, which is a disaster if you have PR and marketing campaigns timed to start with the release of your app. That’s actually harder to deal with than the costs of scope creep.

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Get the scope right from the beginning

Let’s be clear, even the very best specifiers and project managers can miss details from a specification. It’s possible, that even though you know your idea inside out and have lived and breathed it (in your mind) for months now, there will be something you might not have considered.

Our App Project Briefing document is a structured way to marshal your thoughts and requirements in a format that developers will find easy to understand and will have less room for misinterpretation at a later stage.

Misinterpretation is one aspect of scope creep. Deliberately leaving something out of a quote only to raise it once the scope has been agreed and the app development started is another.

So, the lesson here is you MUST tell the developer as much as you can from the very outset, so there are fewer opportunities for misunderstanding or to miss a requirement out altogether.

Even if you just want a ballpark figure don’t leave it to chance. A rogue developer will use every stage of the ‘pre-sale’ process to keep his quote down knowing they will increase the costs once you are already committed. They will take every advantage of any lack of experience, naivety or lack of planning to make sure they can add more work onto the project at a higher cost than you originally agreed on when you commissioned the project.

To keep the weeds from taking root in your potential project, complete an App Project Briefing form to send to a developer here.