What is the one document that can ensure the success of a project?

Project Construction Swing Cartoon

I recently gave a talk about communication with clients at an event and the importance of setting out a clear scope of work and brief for a project right at the outset.

By popular demand, in this article, I am sharing some of the tips I put together.

I’ve used this cartoon, particular to the construction industry, but relevant in many sectors, to help illustrate how important it is to get this document right from the very outset, and how to ensure that the cope of work you will complete is clear all the way through a project, even when things need to change.

The cartoon highlights importance of clear communications throughout the life of a project. Nowhere is this more
important than in defining the scope of work to be done, both at the start of a project and in dealing with any changes.

Not having clear Scope of Work:

  • causes confusion;
  • wastes time;
  • costs money;
  • can affect relations with your clients.

A proper Scope of Work should set out, clearly and concisely:

  • what is and, importantly, what isn’t included for;
  • what information the client needs to provide;
  • what is to be delivered and when;
  • any key assumptions that might affect delivery;
  • and of course the price, whether that is a lump sum cost or an hourly rate. Does it include travel time or mileage to meetings? What about 3rd party costs, how are they going to be dealt with?

Of course, nothing is perfect, should expect things to change, especially when the client says those dreaded works
“can you just do this?”. Having a clear Scope of Work in the first place allows you to identify if this extra work is an extra that you are entitled to charge for. If it is, then this should also be communicated to the client, preferably in writing.

In short, a clear Scope of Work:

  • provides assurance for both parties;
  • prevents disputes;
  • prevents “scope creep”;
  • demonstrates a professional approach;
  • enhances your credibility with your clients;
  • increases profitability.