Warning: Don’t feed the scope creep monster

Sep 01, 2015
Brussels, a sunny spring afternoon. A nice looking sales manager wearing a perfect suit is selling his 10th IT project to catch his periodic quota. We don’t know his name because this is not a Delaware Consulting case. The budget estimation is too low. He made some promises towards the customer without any exact knowledge and without a double-check with specialists. The customer signs a contract for an IT project thinking it’s all in. But not realizing that several topics will need additional Time & Material effort. Moreover, the phasing is rather vague and several people have unrealistically high expectations.

Quid coffee

Delaware Consulting Paul is going to the coffee machine. To take a break. When he returns, he finds an e-mail from sales girl Joke in his mailbox. Joke has a new presales case about a fashion prospect. Joke contacted Paul because of his extended fashion knowledge. Paul is searching for a free moment in his busy agenda to catch a meeting with Joke. Next Monday, they will browse through the new fashion prospect requirements together. Paul does not perform full-time presales. He’s involved in 2 ongoing fashion projects for the moment. This knowledge will be very suitable for the new prospect.

The sky is the limit

As usual, the fashion prospect only delivered the request for proposal shortly before the due date. After the initial meeting with Joke, Paul coordinates a team of specialists to answer all questions in the questionnaire. Even Paul does not know all himself. But his colleagues assist him for very typical domains. Virginie is giving workshops the whole day for an existing customer. So for the typical CRM questions, she’s only reachable by phone in the early evening. Everybody is amazed about the extremely detailed and far-reaching prospect questions.

Don’t feed the scope creep monster

Arriving on the prospect’s short list was a first step. Joke and Paul are eager for the next stage: the demo phase. The prospect asks extended demos in several critical areas. Especially the buying-selling model, including subcontracting should get all attention. It’s their core business. The deal is not closed yet. Paul realizes the importance of being honest, not to create expectations he cannot deliver. Together, Paul and Joke clearly indicate all possibilities. But they also try to already introduce phasing during the demo phase. The customer has to realize the project will take some time.


Closed deal

And then the big day. The prospect becomes a customer. They didn’t want anybody else than Paul to be the project manager for the implementation phase. Continuity from within the presales phase. They were charmed by him. Let him prove now what he promised! Ludo is assisting Paul, to give Paul some free air for again new presales cases. But Paul stays main responsible.

When expectations change …

Life is changing. The customer is changing. Circumstances and market also are. So the expectations don’t stay the same. That’s where the first disputes pop up after a while. Inevitable. But the start was good. Budget and budget phasing were clearly set. Trust and knowledge were there from the beginning. Out of scope tasks were directly indicated. A formal change request procedure is introduced for newly asked requirements. Because expectations are not black and white and we are living humans. And the project stakeholders? They all were pleased with a lovely go-live.

Author: Wouter Dessein. You can follow Wouter Dessein on Twitter (@DesseinWouter) or connect with him on LinkedIn