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The Perils of Scope Creep in Construction Projects

by Ditto Digital on Dec 11, 2020

Official or unofficial, documented, or undocumented the changes in scope for any construction project as a constant. There are numerous reasons, but they generally fall into three categories: decreased profitability, increased liability, and damaged reputations.

What is Scope creep?

The changing scope of a project, scope creep, is usually explained as continuous change or growth of any project beyond the original intent that was stated. This is a problem that occurs whenever clients expand on or make changes to an original agreement. If measures are not taken when this occurs the workload and cost can increase significantly.

What causes scope creep?

Where there is a lack of meaningful communication between the client and construction firm there can be issues. These might occur as a result of the company’s failure to implement proper contract procedures, a desire to increase revenue, incorrect analysis of the original details of the job, a failure to implement and follow the right path for making and dealing with changes, and, of course, those clients who want to make changes but don’t want to pay for them.

How can you minimize scope creep?

Preventing scope creep is almost impossible. However, there are things you can do to minimize it. Every project will undoubtedly face some minor tweaks, and if these are handled properly. The best way of doing this, as you will learn in any project manager course, is through good communication and correct contract procedures.

Good communication

It is important for construction companies to explain their service and what type of work this might include and exclude fully within any project agreement. This communication should go both ways so that everyone understands exactly what should be going on.

If changes are then made to the scope of the project these need to be considered as an entirely new agreement, put in writing and agreed upon by everyone

Within that communication it is important to learn when you need to say no to a client, if you cannot expand the scope of your duties then you need to tell them this.

Contracts

It doesn’t matter whether you sign the client’s contract for the work, or they sign yours, what is important is that you ensure that the scope of the work is properly defined. Use specific language rather than more general terminology. Remember to include the limitations of the job as well.

If there are verbal communications that are agreed on these can lead to scope creep. Training for PMs should have shown you the importance of putting any conversations in writing to protect yourself. Then you will have proof of agreements if you need them. It can be all too easy to become tied up in disputes over extra payments when no there is no firm proof of agreement.

Use your project management skills and ensure that you have the appropriate protocols in place to deal with work scopes that increase, you may find the easiest way of dealing with increases in work is to add an addendum to any existing contracts.

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