Mastering the Art of Scope Changes: Proven Strategies for Client Approval

scope changes

As professionals in the world of SEO agencies, we often find ourselves faced with one common, ever-looming challenge: scope creep. A study conducted by Deltek found a striking statistic – 38% of agencies consistently exceed their budgets due to scope creep. Yet, we often let this slide, leading to an adverse impact on our bottom line, and indeed, our profitability.

This scenario paints a clear picture of the importance of mastering scope change navigation and securing client approval when necessary. This comprehensive guide will take you on a journey through three proven strategies to manage scope changes in an effective manner, drawing on practical examples from my own experiences in the industry. We’ll be leaning on the Pyramid Principle framework, a communication technique that ensures clarity and effectiveness in delivering our points.

The Pyramid Principle: Laying the Groundwork

The Pyramid Principle, a powerful communication tool developed by ex-McKinsey consultant Barbara Minto, is a cornerstone of clear, persuasive communication. It suggests presenting the main idea first (forming the top of the pyramid), followed by supporting arguments (forming the body). With this top-down approach to organizing information, we can provide compelling arguments, easily digested by the audience.

Let’s apply the Pyramid Principle framework to our three key strategies:

  1. Embedding a Change Management Process in the Project Scope
  2. Instituting Regular Checkpoints for Client Approval
  3. Elucidating Key Tasks in the Statement of Work (SOW)

Strategy 1: Embedding a Change Management Process in the Project Scope

Right off the bat, one of the most effective strategies is to build a change management process into the project scope. This forward-thinking approach creates an established framework for accommodating changes and is a clear indicator to all stakeholders that the project’s scope and budget aren’t eternally flexible.

Practical Implementation

Incorporate a clear change management process in the SOW, outlining how changes and revisions are managed, including potential timeline shifts and budget alterations.

Value Addition

This systematic approach eases the process of securing client approval and decouples it from any personal resistance, reducing friction and streamlining the change management process.

Example from My Personal Experience

In one instance, a client decided midway through the project to opt for Getty Images instead of the previously agreed upon stock photos. Thanks to the change management process embedded in our SOW, we could simply refer her to it and request an email confirming the budget increment for the Getty Images. This approach saved us from a potentially tricky conversation and maintained a cordial client-agency relationship.

Strategy 2: Instituting Regular Checkpoints for Client Approval

Building regular checkpoints into your project plan provides opportunities for the client’s feedback and approval, helping to prevent last-minute change requests that can significantly derail your timeline and budget.

Practical Implementation

Embed regular checkpoints in the project timeline. These points will serve as scheduled opportunities for the client to review and provide feedback.

Value Addition

Regularly scheduled checkpoints preempt the onset of significant scope creep and provide an opportunity to manage any arising issues proactively.

Example from My Personal Experience

Once, while creating a new website for a client, a checkpoint for draft approval caught a significant change. The client wanted to add an online store – a feature not initially included. This early detection allowed us to address and accommodate the change before it escalated into a severe scope creep scenario.

Strategy 3: Elucidating Key Tasks in the SOW

Providing a detailed outline of key tasks in the SOW helps to educate the client about the extent of work involved, the necessary timelines, and why last-minute changes can be problematic.

Practical Implementation

Include a comprehensive list of tasks, along with corresponding timelines, required to execute the project in your SOW.

Value Addition

A detailed SOW enlightens the client about the scale of work involved, making it easier to negotiate for additional budget and timeline when required.

Example from My Personal Experience

In one project, a client wanted to shift the focus of a landing page after extensive research had been conducted. The detailed SOW helped the client understand why the requested change had significant implications and made the process of negotiating an additional budget more straightforward.

As SEO agency professionals, managing scope changes effectively is paramount to maintaining a healthy bottom line and client relationships. With these strategies, you will not only protect your revenues but also improve your client servicing standards. Remember, mastering the art of scope change navigation is an essential step towards agency success.


jay kang

Jay Kang, entrepreneur and SEO expert, is the driving force behind innovative platforms like and His latest creation, ProductReview.Tools, provides affiliate marketers with a powerful WordPress plugin for crafting high-converting reviews. Committed to empowering marketers, Jay continues to make a positive impact in the digital marketing space.

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