Change is good, if managed properly.  Tenants relocate on average once every ten years and a project manager’s role is to guide and manage expectations so a seemingly overwhelming process becomes a pleasant experience. We watch the tenant’s money and project scope to assure best value for every dollar.

Scope Creep is often a term introduced into the project when intended or unintended changes arise that are beyond the original planning. This can occur at any stage in planning, design, construction and relocation. And if not identified and rectified early, it can impact your budget. The surprised tenant doesn’t necessarily hear “scope creep” but rather “$$ creep”.

The key to controlling scope creep is realizing it as a symptom, identifying the problem, assigning responsibility and mitigating its impact both on the schedule and budget. Scope creep does not necessarily mean an increase in the project size or budget, but can also be a result of the tenant’s design and budget revisions well after the plans have been approved.  For instance, simple changes like adding power and data to a conference room table after construction is underway affects electrical, data, flooring and furniture plans and the resulting change order can cost upwards of $1,500.  This can be addressed early in the design phase.  Another example is taking delivery of furniture and finding out the modesty panels are covering your electrical and data outlets. Why? Because nobody checked with the furniture vendor or examined existing furniture that was relocated.  Other issues may be out of your control such as HVAC systems not fitting properly in ceilings maybe due to existing ceiling joists or plumbing.

To minimize scope creep, you start with a detailed project program which creates a baseline that the project is measured by throughout the design, construction and relocation process. The program is created at the conceptual stage and includes objectives and goals, specific details and expectations. The stakeholders, management, vendors, maintenance staff, operations, accounting departments and all users should be involved in the process from the start. We ascertain general expectations and details right down to whether they want bottled or bottleless water dispensers which may require a water line added to the plan.

Design teams may fix problems which can sometimes lead to un-funded scope creep. Similarly, client’s can add items blindly thinking there is no additional cost. For every scope change, the client may need to find the money in the budget, so design teams are crucial here to help find acceptable and less expensive alternatives to costly products that may aid in preventing scope creep.

The client should have thorough interaction with the design team and project manager during space programming, design, construction and relocation planning and sign-off during each phase. Conduct reviews at various stages of the project so all parties can agree on scope, budget and schedule before proceeding to the next stage.

Once the construction documents are completed and construction begins, change order requests may ultimately need to be approved for unforeseen conditions or building department requirements. While scope creep may be a reality to the process, having a transparent, open dialogue and change management process for the whole team where everyone contributes for the benefit of the project is crucial to maintain quality control.

So yes, change may actually be good if the tenant can reflect back on the project after completion and know it was built right and fiscally prudent. Building it wrong so it’s on time and on budget is un-satisfying for everyone.  If you proceed with a project manager at the helm and follow the project plan, the CEO, CFO, and all the other C’s will reap the benefits of planning that was orchestrated so that everyone was in sync.

Resource: The Owner’s Rep ~Richard Neuman

Richard Neuman is Vice President, Project Management for Relocation Management Solutions, a facility planning, construction and move management consulting firm located in Albertson, Long Island, NY. www.relocationmanagement.com (516) 741-8466

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