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How to deal with scope creep after accepting a contract?

geri_kol
Ace Contributor
Gergana K Member Since: Dec 11, 2019
1 of 33

I am a new freelancer with excellent feedback from clients and I recently earned the "Rising Talent" badge. Yesterday I unwisely accepted a contract from a 3-star rated client who changed the scope of the work we had agreed upon immediately in subsequent communications. I told him that what he is asking of me now is a different category of work and I would have to charge a bit more. He disagreed and wants to cancel the contract, and I´m fine with that since I don´t think even my new proposed rate would be adequate pay for the expanded scope of the work he was asking of me.

My question is, how can the contract be cancelled without it affecting my JSS score or the client leaving negative feedback? No money has changed hands and no work done, the contract is being cancelled due to "scope creep" - client asking me to do something which was not mentioned either in his job offer or in subsequent communications (before I accepted the job).

Would it impact my JSS differently if he cancels or if I cancel it? Or is it equally bad in either case?

stevejobsbd
Active Member
Steve J Member Since: Dec 23, 2019
2 of 33
May I know how long does it took get you Rising Talent? and Am I eligible for Rising Talent?
mcpilot
Active Member
Patrick M Member Since: Dec 14, 2015
3 of 33

I believe that if you end the contract before any work is done or money changes hands, you'll not be prompted for feedback nor will the client. Someone from Upwork may wish to verify this but It seems to me from my recollection that if has no impact on your score. 

 

Scope creep can be a frustrating and ubiquitous part of a freelancers life.  It's one of the reasons I only do hourly work.  If the client keeps asking for more, then they're charged the normal hourly rate. 

 

Best of luck! 

petra_r
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
4 of 33

Patrick M wrote:

I believe that if you end the contract before any work is done or money changes hands, you'll not be prompted for feedback nor will the client.


You believe wrong. Contracts that end with nothing paid usually do affect the JSS regatively, and clients DO get to leave (private) feedback which affects the JSS for better or for worse.

 

The trick (for future reference) is to not accept a contract until the scope is perfectly defined and nailed down and agreed to in writing.

 

I'd also be weary to accept any contract with a 3 star rating unless it is clear from the history that the feedback was undeserved.


Life's too short for bad clients.

wlyonsatl
Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
BEST ANSWER
5 of 33

So please leave accurate feedback for this client, to warn off freelancers who might be tempted to try to work with them in the future.

 

It's unfortunate you were tempted to work with such a low-rated client, but Upwork should provide more information about the past behavior of all clients, including:

 

1) What percentage of their past projects have been cancelled by the client?

2) What percentage of their past projects have been cancelled by the client's previous freelancers?

 

Similar information about projects involving a client’s mediation and arbitration history would be useful, too.

 

Having to select clients with so little information about their history on Upwork creates unnecessary and avoidable problems for freelancers.

 

By the way, if a client's feedback has been consistently negative on their prior projects, Upwork has said that client's feedback on new projects may not be included in the JSS calculations of the freelancers they hire. You may get lucky in this respect.

 

View solution in original post

wolfiefeeling
Ace Contributor
Weiling X Member Since: Oct 23, 2019
6 of 33

if you cancel the contract now,

 

client may leave bad private feedback which affects your JSS a bit but the project won't display on your profile at all. 

 

If it was me I would very politely reject this client now and would not care lots about the feedback this client probably could leave, at this point it is their rights anyway. but I can avoid any bigger loss. compare to a bad public feedback, JSS can be built easily.

 

 

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
7 of 33

re: "It's one of the reasons I only do hourly work.  If the client keeps asking for more, then they're charged the normal hourly rate."

 

That can be a very smart and profitable policy. Hourly is a fair and equitable way to hire.

 

Fixed-price is the more complicated contract model. It requires that the freelancer exercise additional foresight and diligence, and it only work if the client acts professionally. There are certain clients who should never be trusted with fixed-price contracts because they abuse such.

bizwriterjohn
Community Guru
John B Member Since: Aug 20, 2015
8 of 33

Here's a tactic I use with prospective-then-actual clients who I think maybe creepy with my scope.  Hence, scope creep.  This also applies to work that is extensive enough where we cannot estimate total scope until some N period of hours is completed.

First, to note: until hours are entered, the project can be cancelled without reflection on ratings or impact on JSS.  With that in mind.

If I am in a circumstance where it appears things might get a little 'jiggy' -- and I am not totally certain the client is going to be partnership-quality.  I will physically work through the scoping work, just as if they are billable hours.   And keep track of them, perhaps even send emails so there is no 'surprise'.  But I wait until the end of the N-needed-hours period before I log them into Upwork.  Characteristically, I simply say, "I will bulk load the hours in on Sunday, let's get through this week of work, make sure we totally agree on scope, and when we do, then, I can log the hours with good accord.


Now, this does imply that 'work might be done' that ultimately 'does not get paid for'.  Yes, there is that risk.  Impactful ratings on our JSS are the lifeblood of our business.  I will -- and on a couple of occassions have -- happily sacrifice three or four, or five of whatever hours to get project work started, get through exact scoping -- then input hours.

Summary: just keep in mind.  Until we log hours, we are still in control of our JSS and ratings destiny. We can use a technique to bundle first week hours to the Sunday listing period, bulk load them in, and -- win the project.  But -- give one's self a week to make sure a potentially sketchy client is going to play ball fairly.  The potential cost.  A few hours of work, not billed.  The gain.  Sounder sleep.

petra_r
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
9 of 33

John B wrote:

First, to note: until hours are entered, the project can be cancelled without reflection on ratings or impact on JSS. 


Absolutely wrong. Contracts that close or stay open for 2+ months without any payment affect the JSS negatively in most cases. The exceptions are when the client is suspended, the client has been exclused from the JSS system for excessive poor outcomes, or the client leaves positive private feedback.

 


John B wrote:

If I am in a circumstance where it appears things might get a little 'jiggy' -- and I am not totally certain the client is going to be partnership-quality.  I will physically work through the scoping work, just as if they are billable hours.   And keep track of them, perhaps even send emails so there is no 'surprise'.  But I wait until the end of the N-needed-hours period before I log them into Upwork. 


So you use manual hours, meaning "no protection" (if the client doesn't want to pay, you don't get paid) - potentially "free work" and "not getting paid" and STILL have the risk of a negative effect on your JSS.

How in the world does that sound smart to you?

 


John B wrote:

  Until we log hours, we are still in control of our JSS and ratings destiny.


Wrong.

 

bizwriterjohn
Community Guru
John B Member Since: Aug 20, 2015
10 of 33

It never occurred to me that anyone would leave a contract open for more than a week or two, with zero work.   That has never occurred to me.  Apologies.   Have a great day!

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