One of the hardest parts of gaining a new client is managing scope creep. You want to be friendly and flexible and continue to provide your client with what they want and need, but we all have those clients that ask for A and end up wanting Z. This not only can cause you to be upside down based on the quote you sent them but can also force delays in completing services for other customers.
Here are 10 discovery questions that a freelance or contracting web developer can ask to gain the information you need to prevent scope creep and quote clients appropriately.
1. What is the exact scope of the project?
During this question, you would like to extract any deliverables and timelines that must be met. Take your time on this question as this will be the most important question to prevent scope creep.
2. Are there any additional features or functionalities you would like to add to the project?
If there is additional work you will want to ask about the timeline for those features and the budget they have to complete the features.
3. What is the approval process for design and development?
Here you will want to gain knowledge about who will be providing the feedback and signing off on the completion of milestones.
4. Is there a content plan in place for the website?
During this question, you will want to ensure you know who is responsible for creating or providing the content and the timeline for the content to be ready for you to use.
5. Are there any third-party integrations required for the project?
If there are third-party integrations you will want to know a timeline, budget, and responsible party for integration into the product.
6. Are there any specific design or technical requirements that are not included in the original scope?
Be sure to write these down and get an agreement that this will not be part of the original work. If you can get them thinking about future requirements before services are rendered they tend to not creep into the original scope.
7. What are the testing and quality assurance processes for the project?
Here you want to ensure they have testing of the product in place. This can cause a project to drag on if they have to find testers after you have completed the development. You will also want to agree on testing and launch timelines.
8. How will project milestones and deliverables be tracked and reported?
You need to have a communication plan between the client and the developer for the project. Some of the questions you will want to be answered here are:
How often does the client expect communication?
What are the milestones and how they will be evaluated?
What is the preferred method of communication?
Do you bill the client for update meetings?
9. Is there a process for change requests?
As projects go along and you show your clients the progress you've made there will inevitably be change requests to the functionality. You must build in the timeline for these requests and ensure they have a budget for changes.
10. Is there a plan in place for ongoing maintenance and support?
After you've completed the work and delivered the product two things can happen. You find a new project or you stay on for ongoing maintenance and support. Either way, you want to know this upfront so you can budget your time accordingly and quote accurately.
The more of these questions you can get answered up front the more smoothly the project will go down the road. The sooner you can have these questions answered the better as this conversation is much easier when no money has changed hands and no services have been completed.