Tips for Defining Construction Project Management Scope of Work

Tips for Defining Construction Project Management Scope of Work

The construction project management scope of work is like a playbook for every project. It defines the project, who is expected to do what work. Scopes that aren’t well-defined usually lead to confusion and miscommunication and delay. While those that are well-defined make projects easier to navigate. Here are some ways to improve your construction project management scope of work.


What is Scope of Work?


Construction project management scope of work is an agreement between contractors and the owner about the work they are to do. The scope of work can be more than just defining what work will be done. It also defines how the work will be completed, and more. Every scope of work should include any milestones, deliverables, and similar pieces to ensure a way to report on completion. With the necessary milestones and deliverables, there must also be a timeline. Without a timeline, it’s hard to know when the milestones would be due. These parts are required for a scope of work, without them it’s hard to determine what needs to happen on a project.


Why is a Defined Construction Project Management Scope of Work Important?


As the previous paragraph states, a scope of work is the agreement between contractors and an owner. In construction, this will define what work a contractor or subcontractor must perform to be paid. In construction project management, the scope of work is crucial to be able to manage a project. If a contractor or subcontractor doesn’t have a defined scope of work, they won’t know what work they’re performing. Or their work could change from day to day. That’s why a highly defined scope of work is so important. Without one, contractors are subject to scope creep which adds time and money onto the end of the project and can create tension between all parties.

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Tips to Define Scope of Work


Construction project managers wishing to prevent scope creep should ensure a well-defined scope of work. These tips can help everyone define their construction project management scope of work.


construction project management scope of work
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Terms and Definitions


Having clear terms and definitions section is crucial for every construction project management scope of work. There is a lot of construction jargon and abbreviations that make sense for construction workers. However, not everyone who reads the scope of work will have that same understanding of the jargon and abbreviations. The scope writer should provide a section specifically to terms and their definitions. People reading the scope will have the same understanding of the jargon and abbreviations when they include a glossary. Having a glossary in a construction project management scope of work helps prevent some of the more common miscommunication issues that plague construction. However, that’s just one step in improving a scope of work.


The General Overview


The general overview is where the owner or person hiring should explain the project. Here the owners list the general project information. This lets contractors and subcontractors know what the finished product should be. It also lists who the general contractor is, that way other contractors and subcontractors know where to direct some of their questions. The next important part is the project location. This goes in the general overview since it is part of the general information that everyone will need to reference. Without these elements, the construction project management scope of work is getting off to a bad start.

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Include Objectives and Deliverables


The project manager must include the objectives and deliverables in detail. Including this information in detail makes it easier to determine whether a project’s scope is changing. Sometimes contractors or owners will include a line at the beginning of the objectives and deliverables saying it is subject to change. But this makes it harder on contractors and subcontractors, because when the scope changes so do estimates, costs, and time. This can throw a project over budget, and cause issues down the road.


construction project management scope of work
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Visuals are crucial to understanding and producing a good construction project management scope of work. Project managers and owners that include visuals can reduce miscommunication. By adding the plans and models, it’s easier to ensure everyone understands the specific constraints and tasks ahead of them. Plus it’s easier to define the objectives and deliverables with visuals. With BIM software, designers can show what the project would look like at each milestone. That helps project managers compare the plan with actual results. Overall, the visuals make it easier to understand the project.




The project manager should get everyone to sign off before the scope of work is finalized. Having sign-offs on the individual objectives and milestones makes it easier in the end. Because when everyone signs off on the benchmarks, they are saying that they agree with them. That way if someone wishes to change the scope they’ll have to submit a new timeline and milestones. Plus signing off on individual objectives and milestones protects all parties. If everyone agrees to the milestones and goals, then it’s easier to be protected in the case of disputes and other things.