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How to Scope Out a Project

As happy as you are for the business, there is something that can make great deals turn into a sour mess quick. It can lead to setting yourself up for constant edits, miscommunication, disappointment, and unmet expectations. So, how do you avoid all that headache? Scoping out a project is the only way to set proper expectations of the deliverables and maintain a good relationship with your client. Do this and your client and future self will thank you. Any questions? Yes? I had a feeling. Well, let’s get into them.How To Scope A Project

How do I scope out a project?

A project scope should be set before beginning any work or accepting payment (unless the project scope is one of the deliverables). It should serve as a guide to what the client should expect to get out of your agreement and a timeframe in which they should expect it to come, along with an estimated price.

What should be in the project scope?

Good question. Your project scope should include several things. It should outline the purpose of the project; this gives goal to measure the success of the project. You should ask your client what problem they are trying to solve. Remember, you’re not selling a product. You are selling a solution. So, how will your services fix a pain point that they are having?

Your project scope  should also outline what will be required to accomplish your client’s  goal. Will they need a website? If they have one what improvement will you be making and what methods will you be using to accomplish the task?

But I’ve already talked about this in a meeting.

Having a meeting to set a project scope is essential, but it does not replace a written project scope. By documenting the project requirements, you are agreeing on the requirements it takes to accomplish the project. It’s all too easy to forget important points talked about in a meeting. With a written project scope both you and the client can look back and see  why something was done. A project scope can also be used as a roadmap to set proper expectations.


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Makes sense. So, tell me more about what goes into the scope.

Gladly. You should have a firm understanding of how the project ties back into the company’s strategy. Knowing the overall strategy will help you to optimize your work to most fit their current efforts. It can also help you to offer insight on the effectiveness of their choice and help course correct if it is not the best fit for what they are trying to accomplish.

Thanks. I’m starting to see why it’s important, so what about the cost?

Let's Talk Numbers

Cost can be a touchy subject for both sides, but setting proper expectations  is important too. The scope should include a list of the services you will render along with their associated cost. If you are charging a flat rate it should include an itemization of what will be included. If you are charging by the hour it should show your hourly rate along with the estimated hours or time it will take to finish the project


What if I don’t know how much to charge?

By asking the previous questions you should have a good idea of approximately how long the project will take. If you don’t include a price you are not setting an expectation of the cost and leaving that up to the client. When it comes time to pay the bill your lack of communication about the working price may cause some contention between you and your clients (which can equate to a hard time getting paid).

What if I leave something out?

Ah, that is a legitimate fear. While taking about what is in scope you should also talk about what it out of scope. Talking deliberately about what is out of scope can help manage expectations. Sometimes a client may think that something is included when you in fact don’t offer that service or charge more for it. If a client does want to pursue something that is out of the scope agreed on, a separate scope should be drawn up as an add on to your current project.

That’s a relief, I was worried about that part!

As all of us have.

So, what if I am unable to accomplish a task because of something I need from the client?

Your scope is not just for you. It is for the client as well. What you will need from the client whether it be copy, images, or something else should be included in the scope. You should also include a reasonable timeframe that the client should provide you with the items you need and what steps will be taken if they do not provide you with it. You should also get the contact information of the person that will be in charge of getting you what you need  so that you do not have to ask who to go to.

Glad I asked. Once I have my scope of work, what do I do with it?

You can then use your scope of work to create a contract. Your scope of work should be included within your contract. It should be signed by both you and the client so that you have a clear understanding of your roles and commitments to the project.

So, now that I have that I’m finally done, right?

Not quite.

Oh, come on !

Just hear me out. After you have presented your client with the deliverables, how do you know when the project is complete? What keeps you from getting caught in a constant string of edits and finally getting paid the amount you put on paper? An end agreement.

Endless Strings of Fixes

What’s that?

An end agreement is a document that you present to your client when you hand over the project. It allows the client to look over the project and compare it to the scope of work that you both agreed on. If the client is happy with your work, they can sign off, send you the agreement back, and you can collect that sweet paycheck. However, if the client  decides that something was not accomplished according to your agreement, they can submit all the changes that they consider would make the project complete. Once you get that back you can correct the changes, complete the project,  collect your paycheck, and move on to the next job. Break the never-ending edit cycle.

Wow, that’s genius.

Thank you. That insight was brought about by many mistakes.

So, now that I know what and how to make a scope of work what do I do?

Go out and get some jobs! And don’t forget what to include. Here’s a list if you need it:

  • What is the purpose of the project?
  • What is the goal that they would like to reach?
  • How will your solution help their problem?
  • What is their current strategy?
  • How much will the project cost?
  • What is out of scope?
  • Who oversees getting you what you need to accomplish the project?
  • Did you build a contract and get it signed?
  • And don’t forget the end agreement.

Thank you so much! Can you help me get sell the job too?

Authorship: Taj R.

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