If there is one single truth in the construction sector, it is this – change is inevitable. As a construction project manager, you should know and face that reality firsthand. And when changes to the project scope start to spiral out of control, your construction project often faces numerous delays and starts to cost you additional money. If you are unfamiliar with this phenomenon, it is recognized by many as scope creep.
Now, scope creep has become a significant concern for many construction managers, considering the type of problems it creates. So, in this blog, we will cover everything about scope creep, including some of the best ways to deal with and avoid it in your current and next construction projects.
Now, let’s dive in!
What is Scope Creep in Construction?
Each construction contract includes a scope of work. The scope of work defines all the items that should be done on construction projects, assigns tasks, and outlines how the work will be executed.
Scope creep refers to the continuous change and growth in the project scope well beyond the initial scope of work. Scope creep a common problem. And without proper procedures put in place, changes are undocumented, leading to increased costs and additional workloads.
Major Causes Why Scope Creep Happens
Reasonable changes and minor tweaks are to be expected in the project’s scope. However, when some changes to the scope reach a level of exaggerated and unreasonable, time and cost overruns may get out of hand. The ability to determine the major causes of scope creep is the first step in being capable of reducing its damaging effects.
Poor communication is one of the most common causes why scope creep happens. Poor communication is an industry-wide problem; whenever expectations or goals are not crystal clear for everybody involved, it is easy to misunderstand everything. As a project manager, you have to open different ways and channels of communication so that the scope creep will be prevented and things can be clearly communicated from one party to another.
One way to open a communication channel is to employ construction crew management software that is fully integrated and accessible anytime and anywhere. This specialized tool is very promising and beneficial to your construction team, clients, and others involved in the projects. Moreover, it enables everyone to instantly ask questions, provide answers, review progress, and deliver project updates.
2. Improper change management procedures
Scope creep frequently happens all the time due to unprocessed and undocumented verbal agreements. For instance, when change orders are already approved but left undocumented, this is where the trouble begins. Also, most payment disputes are already over, whether a particular request was actually made or the job falls under the original scope of work.
3. Problem clients
Finally, scope creep is often caused by none other than your clients. Perhaps, you already find yourself with a client who demands changes without thinking about their costs. And when the bill comes, they often act surprised by all extras being included. Worst, some of them attempt to take advantage of you and always refuse to pay for the additional.
Seven Ways to Deal with Scope Creep
Expect scope creep to happen in any of your projects. There is no way to eradicate this kind of problem; however, there are several ways to reduce it. See below:
1. Communicate all the expectations
The amount of time to sit down and deliberate the ins and outs of the project may go miles to prevent any disputes due to scope creep. As a project manager, you should fully understand your client’s expectations and needs.
Do not just settle on asking the “what” but also the “why.” Your clients do not always know exactly what they want or how to achieve their ideal results. So, with a clear idea of the “why,” you can use your expertise to collaborate effectively with your client and help them redefine the scope of work even before the project starts.
2. Educate your clients
Another tip to prevent scope creep from happening is to set up discovery sessions with your current clients in the early phase before the project starts. From there, you can develop strategies and processes around change requests.
Letting your clients involve is crucial to your success and future collaboration, and it shows how important it is to keep everyone on the same page. Deploy the latest crew scheduler software to connect everyone to the same platform via the cloud. Using fully specialized software can help broaden communication, improves collaboration, delegate tasks easily, and keep everyone on the same track.
3. Clearly define the estimates
Another crucial step to preventing scope creep is to establish clearly defined estimates. When your client signs the contract, this is just a legal pre-requisite. And when you walk your clients through the estimates, they will gain a much better understanding of the cost and magnitude associated with any changes and additional work.
4. Invest in construction schedule management
When dealing with construction scope creep, ensure you are equipped with the right tactics and tools to solve each. We mentioned many times in this blog how crucial it is to use the latest tools upon dealing with this kind of matter on your projects, and we strongly mean it. Investing in the right project management software like Pro Crew Schedule makes it easier to spot any unexpected changes in your construction projects.
In addition, the software helps you and your team keep track of these changes and whether the scope creep is left unnoticed or already resolved. On top of that, there are other benefits you will get once this sophisticated software is fully deployed. Check it out. Click here for a demo.
5. Make a detailed statement of work
To avoid long, drawn-out construction projects, you must clearly define SOW or the statement of work. The SOW functions as your detailed roadmap and building plan of what has to be done on a project. This document has to be specific as possible and should include the preparations needed for every role working on every task within the project. Hence, another reason is that you must shift your focus to your construction crew and prioritize crew schedule planning.
If you do not have a proper SOW and scheduling plan with a clear description, everyone involved may interpret the project differently. As a result, things will go differently than you planned for your projects. And you do not like that to happen.
6. Proper change order procedures
Scope changes must be treated almost like separate contracts. So, any time your client requests a change, make sure to document them. The order for the additional task must be priced out and signed immediately by both parties, and once executed, the change order must become part of the contract.
It might seem like a time-consuming procedure. Nevertheless, it is necessary. Once your clients know the costs and time associated with change requests, this will prevent additional, excessive changes. Remember, contractors, are not paid for the work being performed. They are paid for the work that is documented.
7. Request for additional resources and funding
So, let’s assume that the changes are already approved. You have already communicated the changes to your clients and team, and everyone agreed. The next thing you should do is request additional funding and resources to make the changes happen. There can be a lot to document and track, but it is okay as long as everything is communicated clearly.
Moreover, when you are in this situation, avoid being static. Go ahead to the next step to ensure the additional refund. In the development process of your projects, know that time, money, and resources are being spent. So make sure to use it wisely.
No One Likes Scope Creep. So, Make Use of the Pro Crew Schedule
Let’s be honest –no one ever wants scope creep to exist. However, whether you like it or not, you will most likely face it when you have projects. As we stated above, avoiding scope creep requires clear communication and managing expectations. We hope you follow our tips to deal with scope creep more effectively.
But if there is the single most important thing we want you to take a leap in – it is to invest in the best time-tracking software for construction. There is the need to control a lot of moving parts in your projects, including scope creep. And using cutting-edge technology can make things come together, just like a puzzle.
Pro Crew Schedule, the leading construction software in the market, has all the features you need to manage your projects, including the possible issues they entail, such as scope creep. When stakeholders request changes, you have to capture them instantly, and adding controls is the best way to ensure scope creep will not occur again.
Pro Crew Schedule has dashboards that visualize the overall workflow. And everything is customizable, seamless, and easy to access. Experience everything firsthand with a 30-day free trial.