20:20 Innovation logo

Home / Latest News And Updates / Navigating scope creep: 5 strategies for managing client expectations

Partner Blog -

Navigating scope creep: 5 strategies for managing client expectations

16 Jan 2024

Written by GoProposal

As an accountant, you naturally assume the responsibilities of a project manager. However, when working on projects, the phenomenon of “scope creep” can sometimes set in.

Scope creep refers to the gradual expansion of project objectives or requirements beyond the initial agreement. It occurs when additional tasks, features, or deliverables are introduced without proper evaluation or approval. This potentially leads to project delays, increased costs, and challenges in maintaining the project’s original scope and timeline. Most of the time accountants absorb these costs themselves to help their clients in the best way they can and protect the relationship between both parties.

In the world of project management, the term "scope creep" can send shivers down the spine of even the most seasoned professionals. For the ultimate antidote, explore 5 foolproof strategies for managing client expectations and staying true to the project brief.

1. Clear pricing upfront:

Transparently communicate the project's cost right from the beginning. This not only builds trust but also helps manage expectations regarding the financial aspects of the collaboration.

The best pricing structures are visible for your entire team. Pricing should be a bit like a menu. If you have a clear menu of services to show your clients, it means that every colleague can price the services of even the most complicated of clients. With clear pricing structures you break bottlenecks and ensure your team members are on the same page. The fantastic thing about using a clear menu of services is that the client understands that if the scope creeps, they can see what it will cost them because it is right there in front of them in black and white.

But pricing is no easy task, which is why tech solutions with inbuilt pricing matrixes offer a fantastic alternative to laboriously working out the costs of services from client to client.

2. Clear engagement letter:

Formalise the commitment with a clear engagement letter. This document outlines the project's scope, responsibilities, and expectations, ensuring all parties are on the same page from the get-go. The best engagement letters are made in your client meetings. This may sound too ambitious, but you can use tech-based tools to create these important documents while you are on the call. When the client walks away from the meeting, they can have no doubt in their mind what services they are receiving as it's all there in the letter, meeting both your collaborative goals and compliance requirements.

3. Being firm but fair:

Strike the right balance between assertiveness and fairness. Being firm in adhering to the project scope while remaining open to reasonable adjustments establishes a foundation of trust.

Accountants are well known to be eager to please their clients, incredibly supportive, and some of the most trusted professionals in the game. This means it can be tricky to politely decline when a customer asks too much. If you can’t deliver on their new requests without it negatively affecting your firm, then the request has simply gone too far. In such cases, it may be beneficial to establish a process empowering accountants to clearly lay out additional requests, ensuring transparency and allowing for fair compensation for the extra workload. Remember, you also have a responsibility to your colleagues and firm.

4. Clear briefs:

Creating a robust foundation for collaborative work between you and your client depends on clearly defined tasks or projects that you will perform for your client. You should work to ensure you are both on the same page and understand the purpose, goals, and desired outcomes of the work that you are going to conduct, be that compliance or advisory. This is a good opportunity to look over the usual questions you ask during initial meetings. Consider the ways that you can tighten the screws of your up-front onboarding to guarantee success further down the line.

5. Outlining deliverables and milestones:

Defend against scope creep by meticulously breaking down the project into manageable chunks, outlining deliverables and milestones. This proactive approach not only helps effectively track progress but also establishes transparent expectations regarding the specific achievements and their corresponding timelines.

By providing a structured roadmap, this practice empowers you to easily identify deviations from the original scope, enabling timely adjustments and mitigating the risk of uncontrolled scope-creep.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, by implementing these 5 strategies, you can build a robust defence against scope-creep and foster a collaborative, transparent, and transformative environment for both colleagues and clients. These practices not only manage client expectations effectively but also contribute to the overall success and sustainability of projects, and the business.

Use tech solutions to implement these strategies. Produce instant engagement letters while you are in client meetings through GoProposal’s Engagement Letters feature. Never let a client relationship go cold. Break services down, line by line, effortlessly choosing the pricing that perfectly aligns with each service for each client through GoProposal. This not only creates clarity for your clients but also establishes a fair and comprehensible way of showcasing what they are investing in and how costs are meticulously built up. Elevate your client relationships and redefine your pricing strategy with GoProposal's innovative solutions.

See how GoProposal can help your firm win & onboard more profitable clients by watching their new Instant Demo including comprehensive coverage of not just GoProposal, but their additional products, AML & OverSuite, giving you a deeper insight into what they offer so you can Win & Onboard more profitable clients.

Watch now

Related news and content:

Listing image for Can I claim tax relief for training costs? content

01 Dec 2023

Can I claim tax relief for training costs?


This article explores tax relief for training courses. What we cover applies to business owners, your team and...

Listing image for 4 common client onboarding mistakes and how to overcome them content

28 Nov 2023

Partner Blog

4 common client onboarding mistakes and how to overcome them


GoProposal have unpicked the four common mistakes accounting and bookkeeping firms make when onboarding new cl...

Listing image for 10 Steps to Compliance with ICAEW CPD Rules content

15 Nov 2023

10 Steps to Compliance with ICAEW CPD Rules


This 20:20 Innovation article provides further information on the steps you can take to comply with ICAEW CPD ...