Scope creep is one of the biggest challenges for construction project managers, but this is something you cannot expect to avoid. Primarily, it occurs when scope, features or deliverables on the project expand from what they were initially meant to be. Moreover, these changes are not accounted for in additional budget or time for the project. Scope creep can be intentional and unintentional, but it always results in problems. At the worst, it can even cause project failure because you may end up burning through the entire budget or miss on the deadlines, all without delivering the right thing.
Scope creep becomes a significant concern for managers considering the kind of problems it can create. Fortunately, there are ways you can deal with it effectively. But before understanding how you can deal with the issue, it becomes essential to know the possible causes.
Let us explain them in detail and also highlight the necessary steps to eliminate them.
Not having a clear scope, to begin with
Clarity about the project scope right at the initial stage is crucial. If you fail to define your scope clearly at the beginning, there is no way to create a roadmap for the job. Surely, you can expect to face significant problems down the line.
Ensure the project scope is clear to every single person working on it. Involving your team while setting the scope is an excellent idea because they would know the expectations about what, how and when they would be delivering.
Not having client agreement at the start
If you do not bring the client into the scope, there are chances that they may change their mind at a later stage. This can lead to a change in their expectations for the deliverables, which can endanger the entire project later on.
The client should understand the scope from the start. Sending them a document that only outlines the deliverables wouldn’t be enough. Rather, speaking to them and walking them through it properly would ensure clarity for the client.
Not involving the client through the project
Construction projects do not work the way they used to- clients don’t expect you to work and send them reports periodically to get feedback. If you continue doing so, it can cause nasty surprises such as getting a rework requirement even on finalised work.
It is vital to collaborate closely with the client. Keep them in the look by showing the work in progress, iterating and proactively involving them through the journey. Regular construction project reporting is also a necessity.
Not raising issues proactively
Another reason for scope creep is lack of transparency. You can expect problems if you hide issues and fail to raise them proactively. This may make things easier at first, but you will end up in trouble with the client or stakeholder eventually.
Raise issues right when they happen- but rather than just complaining about things going wrong, have some suggestions for answers as well.
Not agreeing on handling changes
Since change orders are an integral element of construction projects, you need to be ready for them. If you are not sure about handling change right from the beginning of a project, things are bound to get tougher if the scope changes at any stage.
Clearly outline the strategy for handling change. If you plan to use Change Requests, detail what is in scope and out of scope. Also, convey the process for raising a Change Request to the client.
Estimation is often very challenging to get right because you cannot foresee things, particularly when it comes to construction where there are unknowns like unfavourable weather, labour shortages, and fluctuations in material pricing, etc. There are chances that you will be tied to this new scope.
Involving your whole team in the estimation process gives you better chances with accuracy. Avoid guesswork- rather base your estimation on a good understanding of client and business requirements.
Not interrogating new requests
Taking on new requests from clients or ideas from the team members sound easy but remember that they may not always be feasible to implement. Failing to interrogate these new requests properly could lead to accepting new scope without really knowing what you are taking. You may have to do duplicate work or build unnecessary features without even noticing.
Reviewing all new requests with your full team is the way to go. Get a clear understanding of the request, the impact of incorporating it in your current scope of work and its outcome as well. Further, cross-check to ensure that it is not being delivered elsewhere because you wouldn’t want to duplicate work.
Managing scope creep for your construction project
Considering the possible causes for scope creep in construction projects, it becomes clear that you are most likely to face them once or more during the project. Having a proper strategy in place for managing them, therefore, becomes the smartest thing to do. Apart from implementing problem-specific solutions to manage scope creep, the overall approach makes a difference. Here are some tips that can help:
- Be proactive and determine a change management process upfront with the client. Ensure that everyone understands it clearly so that there are no disputes later.
- Prioritise the changes and consider what can be de-scoped for accommodating new requests for the client because it would keep control of budgets and timelines.
- Be transparent and bring up the possible scope creeps with clients and stakeholders as soon as you notice them.
- Analyse the impacts, both positive and negative, of changes and give viable solutions to the client to move forward with the project.
- Embrace the change and focus on the ways to incorporate them rather than waste time on resisting them.
A proper approach and positive attitude towards scope creep can help you handle it well enough. The focus should be on client satisfaction, even while not compromising with your profitability and efficiency. Automating your business with a construction management software solution is a good idea because it has you covered on several fronts when it comes to handling scope creep. From enabling transparent communication with the stakeholders to bring accuracy in estimation and managing budgets and timelines, there is a lot that it can help you with.