Article Date: 05/10/2013

Experts Suggest Ways to Avoid the Pitfalls of ‘Scope Creep’

By Steve Rizer


What are the best practices for avoiding and managing “scope creep,” an ominous term that refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a construction project’s scope? “First, we recommend that you implement a documented change management process, which can actively manage changes on [a] project,” Marsh Risk Consulting Vice President and Managing Consultant John Ciccarelli told a target audience of engineers, architects, risk management professionals, construction and project managers, presidents, vice presidents, contractors, subcontractors, and others during a webinar that WPL Publishing held late last month.


“Next, with respect to risk management, we suggest identifying and evaluating areas that are susceptible to change for those risks during the early stages of the project and, specifically, during the review of the project design basis,” Ciccarelli said. From there, he urged webinar attendees to “update the risk-management plan as the project progresses because it’s going to change when you move from design to project execution.”


Ciccarelli further implored his audience to “evaluate changes against business drivers and success criteria for the project. For example, was the change initiated because a third party wanted to have granite floors in the lobby when a less-expensive and easier-to-install finish would have satisfied the design intent, which is a success criteria? So, this also relates to knowing your scope and contract documents, which define the success of the project. You want to understand and try to avoid additional gold-plating or other things you don’t need to successfully deliver the project in the original design.”


It is also important to “establish a baseline scope of work early in the project and manage changes against that baseline,” Ciccarelli said. “Have the discipline to not allow the nice-to-have features or gold-plating or even incremental changes [to] be added later just to be a nice guy. [Also,] require that changes go through a formal change justification procedure. [Such a procedure may involve] the use of trend logs and change order management logs, and they need to be effectively utilized and updated to control the scope.”


Ciccarelli additionally recommended that webinar attendees “ensure that there’s timely communication of change information to the project stakeholders, so if you think something is a potential change, communicate it [and] ask for somebody to identify and confirm that they want you to do this work. If there’s an issue, make sure that it’s brought up and elevated to the appropriate parties on a project. This has to be done internally as well as to your clients and other project participants should there be changes being made to a project that are not required in the contract.”


The webinar -- which additionally was designed to benefit developers, contract managers, purchasing professionals, government officials, accountants, and construction law attorneys -- also addressed the causes of scope creep, the ways that scope creep impacts a project, change order management, and other areas.


To purchase a recording of the program, entitled “Avoiding the Pitfalls of Scope Creep in Construction Projects,” visit



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