One of the most important things we do as construction project managers is prevent scope creep from destroying an established plan. Small changes are generally okay, but additions that change the entire scope of the project last minute should be avoided. So today we’re going to talk about scope creep and how you can avoid it.
What Exactly is Scope Creep?
Every project has a size scope. A single family home is considered a small scope project compared to a multi-building resort, for example. It’s very easy for a client to add small things here and there throughout the planning and building process. Unfortunately, each change or addition changes the scope of the project. Changes to the scope gradually increase the size of the project, hence the term scope creep. Something as simple as picking out a different flooring material half way through the project can incur additional shipping costs, restocking fees, and the material’s procurement lead time could have a detrimental effect on the project’s finish date or result in labor acceleration costs to meet the same finish date in a reduced time frame.
A qualified construction manager will help you identify the key decisions that must be made and when they need to be made to avoid unintended schedule and cost impacts.
Scope creep cannot be viewed as simply a cost of doing business. Increases in the scope of the project equal increases in the pay the project manager and all other workers receive because changes and additions take time and additional manpower. Scope creep can cause a project to be delivered late and over budget. Here are 7 tips for avoiding scope creep:
- Be Vigilant – pay close attention to new requests and approve or deny them based on how they will impact the scope of the project.
- Understand the Ultimate Goal – the more you understand about the client’s overall goal, the better you can avoid scope creep. Don’t underestimate the scope of the project, the functionality, or other deliverables.
- Be Critical of the Overall Idea – don’t tell your client that certain things are impossible. Explain how this or that may work better in the long run. Collaborate with the client to create solutions to prevent scope creep.
- Clearly Define the Scope of the Project – the scope of the project must be defined early-on. This will give you and your client a good idea of what to expect and allow you to prevent scope creep. Ambiguity in this area can lead to misunderstandings and client dissatisfaction.
- Include a Contingency – plan and quote the project with a agreed upon contingency value. This will allow room in the budget to accommodate a few changes without detriment to the project.
- Sign a Contract – require a contract with every project. The contract should include the exact scope of the project and indicate that additional work will be billed separately or in addition to work described in the contract. A contract protects the client and the contractor.
- Know when to Say No – it is perfectly okay to agree to small scope changes and say no to others. Use your construction and planning expertise to analyze each request for additional work. Take the time to explain the risk associated with certain requests to your client and advise them on the best course of action.