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December 30, 2006

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Chris Laughton

Michelle

A great New Year's resolution!

Is a simple tool to help with points 1 to 4 a note of the project scope as the front sheet of your working files? The concept is tailorable to electronic rather than paper files if necessary.

Chris

Michelle Golden

Hello Chris, yes, I think an overview of the engagement in a prominent and consistent place in the client's file is a wise approach.

Beyond that, though, I think conversation with the team to confirm facts (at the start of the engagement) and keeping doors of comm. open throughout so the customer's primary contact is always accessible in the event scope creep pops up.

Having a good change order form available and ready to go is essential. And doing a great job spelling out scope in the engagement letter plus setting the customer's expectations about what sort of common things that might arise but are outside of the scope are.

You might enjoy reading a recent post on the Verasage.com blog about a practitioner who, through his value pricing journey, is evolving his engagement scope descriptions to be more clear to clients about these things on the front end. From my experience, the things he cites in the email/blog post are the most common causes of scope creep for accountants. I find it is helpful to be open about all of this up front.

This post I refer to is quite long, but here is an excerpt of the part I'm referring to:

"This year we have set more specific parameters in our fixed price agreements, regarding the obligations, responsibilities and timing required of the client. As an example we now incorporate wording that results in a change order if we have to review more than two drafts of the filing; a change order if documents are not received when agreed on; a change order if we find management's assessment of internal control to be deficient; a change order if the opinion is qualified, or if there are undisclosed transactions, e.g. discontinued operations that they haven't accounted for properly."

The entire post is here: http://www.verasage.com/index.php/community/comments/faqs_about_change_orders_customer_profitablity_and_productivity

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