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Scope Creep – Friend or Foe?

Scope Creep

Scope Creep – Friend or Foe?

Scope creep is often a phrase that will make Project Managers and Site Supers shudder… 

But in a time of rapidly changing business requirements, the old school project management principle of avoiding change is not in line with reality.

Changes are not always driven through omissions or scope gap. Significant projects that continue over a long period will naturally change through a project’s lifecycle due to improvements in processes, outputs, and technology.

Scope creep is seen most prominently in the construction industry, with supply chains becoming more advanced. Automation technology and materials handling within distribution centres and factories are constantly improving. While the project team does as much as possible to future-proof the project, tweaks and updates will need to be catered for.

The drive for constant improvement means change in major projects is inevitable. While traditionally, the old school thinking of managing a project to avoid change as much as possible (due to the potential cost and time implications), we should be embracing the ability for improved outcomes. 

These improvements, however, will only be possible if the change is managed well. Otherwise, the scope creep will eat away at your bottom line and project deadlines. 

These are some vital tips we have learnt through our years of change management and project scoping.

Streamlined approval processes

On large projects, multiple people usually need to approve a variation / RFI / Invoice/payment.

Establishing a streamlined approval processes upfront will ensure all stakeholders are part of the process and understand their responsibility.

Having an understood and agreed upon process ensures that all approvals are dealt with quickly to minimise further delays.

Presenting information

Understanding how information is to be presented to the client or contractor is crucial to managing change.

A project manager must know what the client wants to see and present in the proper documentation to get swift approval.

This information should include sufficient supporting documents such as a quantity surveying review to substantiate the costs, information identifying any impacts to other areas and the timeframe that a decision is required before further consequences come into play.

Contract obligations

Each party needs to understand their obligations concerning assessing and approving a variation, especially the timing. Often, in major organisations where approval processes can be lengthy, this should be considered when negotiating contracts and ensure the client has enough time to respond to a request.


Lastly and most importantly, open and transparent communication lines between all parties are essential.

As a project manager, as soon as you are aware that a variation is coming, you must start talking to the builder/developer and get pricing requests and impacts for the client.

All parties must be constantly informed on variations and their impacts, especially the urgency around approvals. If decisions take longer than expected or agreed upon, they can often result in higher cost or time impacts.

It is time to rethink how we respond to change in projects; we need to prepare for change rather than avoid it. Embracing change and providing an open process to manage the variations will only lead to improved outcomes for the project.

If your business needs a more flexible way to dealing with variations and scope creep – talk to our team of experts today on 1300 868 474.

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