The Results Are In...Survey Says: Agencies Face Scope Creep Challenges

Posted by Neil Davidson on November 30, 2015

Agencies Face Scope Creep Challenges

With client demands ever increasing it can be difficult for agencies to be more productive, drive profitability and be creative. As a result, a very real challenge faced by agencies around the globe is scope creep. While this is inevitable, to a certain degree for any agency or project based organization, it is a complex issue. If not tracked or managed effectively it can have significant impact on the bottom line, not to mention staff morale.

The recent industry report released by SoDA, in partnership with Deltek identified scope creep as one of the biggest factors in the decline of profits with 63 percent of respondents highlighting it as the primary contributor. Over-servicing also played a huge part in eating away at profits with 57 percent of people stating it was their second biggest concern. Delving into this deeper we can see that 38 percent of respondents reported they often went over budget due to scope changes and 46 percent reported that this occurred some of the time. This means that a resounding 84 percent are exceeding budgets due to scope change alone. This is despite more than 50 percent saying they were notified almost immediately when a job went over budget.

At a recent event Bruce McColl, Mars global CMO, criticized brands for “keeping agencies in creative imprisonment”. McColl referenced low pay, creative restrictions and overwhelming administration as reasons agencies are not performing. This combined with scope creep results in a very difficult situation for agencies.

According to an e-guide created earlier in the year, the direct consequences of scope creep include profit reduction, resource management and project delivery instability, employee burnout and unpredictable forecasting. These will all impact an agency at different levels but pose a serious threat none-the-less to a creative livelihood.

So what can agencies do to halt scope creep and make sure they aren’t losing profits and good people?

A way to see immediate change is to implement a comprehensive management solution that unifies all agency activity into a single view of people, work, time and financial results. According to the SoDA report, many agencies have disparate systems with disconnected information – this limits the ability to see the bigger picture and make any real change. A unified solution will provide a more holistic view that allows staff to delve deeper into different sections, increase profits and provide a strong return on investment. To specifically combat scope creep, it enables agencies to react in real-time to potential issues or even stop them before they have happened. This is particularly relevant for combatting employee burnout – balancing workloads, proactively managing project scope and tracking timesheets weekly gives creative teams the best chance at operating at an optimum performance level.

Moving forward, scope creep is not something that can be instantly eradicated and with most projects, a certain degree of it is to be expected. However, it is essential that creative agencies are able to get a strong grasp on the parameters of a project in order to manage and contain scope creep.