7 ways to avoid scope creep and hidden design costs

7 ways to avoid scope creep and hidden design costs

We all know what budgets are like and how hard it can be to stick with them. So when your design project goes completely over budget this is cause to pull your hair out!
We are regularly asked if clients can have their own editable files (see our post on Graphic Design software here), so they can save costs and do their own designs. This may seem like a good solution, but, to be honest, it’s not something we recommend. You don’t ask your doctor if he can cut costs on your treatment, so likewise you shouldn’t be trying to cut costs with your marketing.
But there are things you can do to limit the costs on your projects, both from when they are first started, through to the continuation of your brand development.
What is scope creep? It’s when the project changes the original brief estimated on and you incur extra costs.

1:  Know exactly what you want.
Be realistic about what you want and what you want to achieve. A logo can’t represent 7 different concepts visually (it will look a little messy!) so you need to know what you want it to reflect and represent, and be realistic about what can be achieved.

2:  Brief the designer accurately.
We’re not mind readers (although we like to think that we are that talented hehe). So, if your closest competitor has blue as their main colour and  you want to stand out from them, brief your designer accordingly so that they can avoid this. This avoids several revisions which is frustrating to both you and your graphic designer. Several rounds of changes also mean that the time allowed for in the quote will be exceeded and you are likely to incur extra fees. An accurate brief safeguards you by providing a written “contract” of your requirements – so the designer can’t misunderstand what you want, and you are encouraged to find out exactly what you want. Halo Media have briefing forms which we supply to clients when a project starts.

3:  Assemble your content.
One of the biggest issues we have with scope creep is inaccurate content. If you want to make sure your project does not exceed budget, this is one of the best things you can do. Supply your text as FINAL (ie. Everybody who has something to say about it has looked over it BEFORE you submit it to the designer). Changes are time-consuming and if errors are going to creep into a job, it’s when there are copious changes. Our studio allows a few hours for revisions and bills for them thereafter, so by finalising your content before submitting, you avoid these extra costs. Make sure your images are correct eg. If you are doing a print document, make sure that the images are high-resolution and you have the right copyright to use them. We cannot use images off google as you don’t hold copyright, and the quality usually isn’t good enough. Bad images make for bad design, so chat to your designer about the images and how best to source them. We recommend either custom photography and can recommend a photographer for the job, or purchasing images from stock libraries.

4:  Have fewer people making decisions. 
This is the second cause of scope creep on a job. Bringing the design into the boardroom where there are eight people who all want their say is a recipe for scope creep. Choose a team who trust you to make the right decisions (we recommend no more than three). Make sure that all revisions are sound and relevant. Then articulate clearly what changes you want – “it doesn’t feel right” is hard for us to interpret! A way to ensure that the boardroom is happy is to make sure they sign off the content (see point 3) – this way they have committed to the project and allows less room for opinions. And finally, on this point, be relevant in your changes. I personally am not wild on the colour pale blue – but I can’t let my personal dislike for this colour cloud my judgement, so I have to make sure I have a relevant reason for not wanting it.

5:  Ask for a revised estimate.
If your project is changing its scope – your 12 page brochure is becoming a 28 page brochure, your 2 minute video is now a 15 minute feature production. As soon as the initial scope of the project has changed make sure to chat to your designer to outline the new requirements so you can avoid a surprise bill at the completion.

6:  Have a library of your designs.
I’m always amazed at how many of the really big companies we work with have no ownership of their files. And I always assume that the big companies have their acts together! If you have a huge department and there are various project managers and designers, chat to your design team as to how you can form a digital library. We have often been called in to recreate designs as the original design cannot be sourced. So, either have a regular (e.g. Every six months) update of projects and copy them over to a hard drive (kept safely and archived accordingly), or, if you part ways with your design agency, request for the files. You need to negotiate this upfront with your design agency to ensure that they will pass on the artwork. There may be costs involved, as it is time-consuming hard drives will need to be purchased, but it will save you a lot more in the long run.

7:  Trust your designer!
Choose your design partner well. Look at their portfolio, meet the company owners (and design team if needs be) and make sure that you can trust them and their expertise. Look at their past work and if you feel they are good at what they do, then allow them to do their jobs. We’re a small team – but combined we have almost 140 years experience. So we’ve been around a while. We’ve learned through our mistakes and we’ve revelled in our had successes. Trust us to do our best, and you may be surprised at how easy the process is. Oh, and on that note, be nice to us… you’d be surprised at how far a kind word goes, we’ve been known to bend the rules for our favourite clients!!

So there you have it, some tips to avoid hidden extra costs and scope creep on your graphic design project. Want to chat further, then contact us now!