Congratulations! You just landed that lucrative contract. Time for your first meeting!
Your brand new customer starts off by saying: “Oops, since we last spoke, the RFP was for ‘this’ but now it’s really for ‘that.’ Can you still deliver?”
Did you answer “Yes” to their question? You are stuck. You accepted a contract at a negotiated price. The true scope of the project is now twice what was stated in the RFP.
Did you leave yourself wiggle room to re-negotiate? Otherwise, your customer just got a real bargain.
Before you respond to your next RFP or RFQ, let’s deep dive into what can happen during a project to throw things off-course and out-of-control. Otherwise, you will constantly be over-delivering and under-compensated for your expertise.
That’s not a viable business model for you.
Scope creep addresses uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project’s scope, which are not accompanied by increased budget, resources or change in schedule or timeline.
Usually we are so excited about landing this lucrative contract that we tend to gloss over the signs and symptoms of scope creep which stare us in the face.
The major causes of scope creep include:
- The customer focuses on the anticipated deliverable and doesn’t consider the complexity of what’s involved in moving from Point A to Point Z;
- The executive sponsor or project manager is weak and/or is a poor communicator. Meetings become nonproductive and non-collaborative;
- Extraneous disruptive factors occur in the marketplace, industry vertical, supply chain and economy;
- Your client takes advantage of your favored relationship by asking for a number of pro-bono, non-billable extras: extra time, extra coaching, extra deliverables;
- The customer team is unable to maintain schedule and process. They cancel meetings, disrupting project flow and extending your timeline-to-completion, impacting upcoming scheduled projects;
- Your client views you as an “hourly employee” instead of a highly compensated consultant who is not subject to the whims and inconsistencies of corporate culture; and
- You continue to deliver services when payment hasn’t been received for prior services, because you are afraid of losing the business.
Do any of these warning signs sound familiar? If you have an unprofitable track record full of projects that resemble herding cats, make sure you cover each of these points in your next contract negotiations.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She coaches the coaches and works with small to midsized businesses and startups, creating revenue-producing business development strategies.