Scope Creep: What It Is and How to Prevent It

When setting out on a construction project, defining the scope of work- for all consultants- is a critical step. The scope of work defines the work required on a given project. One of the key jobs of a project manager is to create an all-encompassing scope of work and then manage that work once the project is underway to avoid scope creep.

 

So, what is scope creep?

Scope creep refers to how a project’s requirements tend to increase over a project lifecycle. What started out as a simple renovation of the reception area, turns into a renovation of the hallway, adjacent restrooms, and nearby offices.

 

There can be several causes to scope creep:

  • Key project stakeholders changing requirements
  • Miscommunication and disagreements about the original scope of work
  • Failure to identify project implications at the outset
  • Incomplete gathering of requirements before the beginning of project execution

 

Scope creep does not have to be a bad thing. Once a project is underway, it might become clear that changing (reducing or expanding) the scope of the project will better serve the end result and the business needs of the client.

 

How to Prevent Scope Creep:

 

The best way to prevent scope creep is from the very beginning of your project. Gather your internal stakeholders and make sure you are very clear and aligned on what your project goals are. Once you begin to talk to architects and general contractors, make sure to engage the right team who is looking at the whole picture. Extending the construction timeline by one week might feel like a huge hit to your project schedule and budget, but if you are addressing a needed issue upfront, it will likely save you time and money in the long run.

 

Once the project is underway, make sure you and your project management team is monitoring the project’s status and baseline scope at all times. Make sure you are clear on the scope of work of your consultants so that you aren’t unknowingly asking for changes that are “outside of the project scope.”

Katie Craven
Katie Craven is Marketing, Communication and Brand Manager at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate consulting firm that provides owner’s representation and project management services. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.
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