Chaos control in office fit-outs

Emily Panton | 30 April 2024

As a Project Manager, I’m responsible for the fit-out of office workspaces. I often work closely with my clients’ Office Manager, and this may be the first time they’ve been tasked with a project of this nature. The price tag for their fit-out can range anywhere from £100K to over £1M, so naturally the Office Manager can feel nervous about the scale of the job that’s been put on their shoulders.


But I’m here to change that!


Here’s an insight into a common risk to fit-out projects – Scope Creep. I’ll talk you through what can go wrong, and how you can avoid it.


So what is Scope Creep?


‘Scope’ is a word used to describe all of the works involved in a specific project. ‘Scope creep’ occurs when the original brief for the project changes or expands, leading to new items being added to the instruction, which weren’t previously accounted for.


For example, a client may have agreed they’re going to leave the office bathrooms in their existing condition. If they later decide they want to put new flooring in the bathrooms, this will be considered a variation to the project. Variations of this nature are likely to incur an additional cost, which can push the project over budget. Going over the agreed budget can result in delays in getting invoices paid due to additional levels of approval being required. It can also cause the planned completion date for the project to be pushed back, which could affect when the office is ready for staff to move in to. This could have implications for the operations of the business. Can you see how things can start to spiral?


So how can we avoid scope creep? Here are 4 of my top suggestions:


1) Be crystal clear on the brief from the outset
Take the time to understand what is included and excluded from your project works. Review the drawings in detail – they can help you visualise the finished product. If you choose to omit certain items, ensure you are clear on the implications of doing so, that way there are no surprises further down the line. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your Project Manager if there’s something that doesn’t make sense to you  – they are there to guide you through the fit-out process and shouldn’t expect you to know all the answers.


2) Have a clear change control process
It’s vital to have clear lines of communication, to ensure no details get lost. Your Project Manager should share a record of minutes and actions from every meeting, and keep an updated log of any project variations. Make sure you’re clear on who in your organisation has the authorisation to sign off variations, and be sure to always put these in writing. Regular progress meetings, whether they are on site or online, will ensure you maintain visibility of the project as it develops.


3) Assemble your team
You are likely to need input from multiple people in your office; the earlier on in the project that you engage these people the better. Involving someone from your IT team will ensure your tech requirements are accurately captured. Your marketing team may want to have an input on the colour scheme and branding elements, so bring them in too.


4) Accept that some degree of scope creep is inevitable..
..but this is completely fine as long as it’s properly managed. The finished product is rarely the exact same as the original brief; items may be discovered during a strip out that were different to what was anticipated, or you might just change your mind on something (you’re only human after all). As long as the changes are clearly communicated across the project team, and the implications on the budget and programme are understood and accounted for, it doesn’t need to be a cause for concern.


If you have any questions on any of the above, you can contact Emily at 😊

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