How to Avoid Scope Creep in the Industrial Sector

Wednesday, 14 February
An engineer and worker are checking cement board at cement factory.-cm

Scope creep occurs when client expectations expand the objectives or deliverables of a project without a commensurate increase in budget, timeline, or resources. Typically, it starts slowly before snowballing into bigger and more unreasonable asks. When not addressed immediately, scope creep can lead to unforeseen costs, delays, and stakeholder dissatisfaction. To avoid these risks, project managers need a strategy to reduce the potential of scope creep and address it quickly when it arises. Here’s how:

Set a clear project scope.

The best defense against scope creep is a well-defined and measurable project scope. It ensures all stakeholders start on the same page, reduces the chances of miscommunication, and gives project managers recourse when handling contract disputes. At a minimum, a project scope should include:

  • Budget
  • Timeline
  • Deliverables
  • Milestones
  • Goals
  • Resources
  • Stakeholder Responsibilities
  • Communication Plan

The clearer the project scope, the better it protects industrial companies from unwarranted or unexpected project expansions.

Set realistic parameters.

Sometimes, project managers inadvertently increase the likelihood of scope creep by overselling the client. Agreeing to an unrealistic budget, timeline, or goal might land you a client in the short term, but it’s going to generate more trouble than it’s worth down the line. The cure is a sober look at what you can reasonably accomplish for a client and building a project scope within those parameters. This due diligence, awareness, and control can save your business from any self-inflicted scope creep.

Review the project scope with clients.

Make sure to go through the project scope line-by-line with relevant parties before signing the agreement. You can hash out any disagreements or clarify any confusion in real-time before finalizing the contract. It might seem tedious, but this step can significantly reduce any disputes arising from miscommunication or a lack of clarity. Besides, it’s much more cost-effective to address these issues in their initial stages before breaking ground as opposed to weeks or months into a project. When both parties put their John Hancocks down, there will be a mutual sense of confidence and understanding. 

Communicate with clients regularly.

Project managers shouldn’t assume that silence implies satisfaction. Waiting until a client reaches out to address a problem can make it harder to solve. By maintaining open channels of communication, you can effectively handle issues before they develop into something bigger and more complicated. Regular check-ins present plenty of opportunities to clarify expectations, field client concerns, and make any scope adjustments if needed. This improved communication also proves your willingness to listen to stakeholders, limiting their potential to make unilateral decisions or assumptions that could lead to scope creep.

Further Reading: Building a Risk Management Strategy in the Construction Industry

Outline a process for scope changes.

In the dynamic industrial landscape, it’s normal for stakeholders to change their expectations as projects mature. However, scope creep only occurs when project managers pivot to meet those expectations without requisite compensation from the client. It’s possible to meet those new stakeholder demands while still receiving the necessary remuneration. That’s where a Change Control clause comes into play. This clause outlines the process for making alterations to the project’s scope following the signing of the initial agreement.

Achieve internal alignment.

Internal alignment is a vital asset in the battle against scope creep. It’s not enough to simply have project leaders and stakeholders in agreement. Industrial businesses also need to ensure their teams comprehend the extent and limitations of the project. This internal alignment is pivotal for maintaining consistent messaging, preventing costly miscommunication, and sustaining shared expectations. A failure in any of these areas could prompt a client to expand the project scope.

Having the best team members is another effective measure against scope creep. If you’re struggling to find the right craftsmen, you’re in the right place! Madden Craftsmen is an industrial staffing expert with decades of experience helping local industrial leaders find the perfect talent for their projects. Take a few minutes to fill out a job order to get matched with dozens of best-fit candidates.

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