Procurement Perspectives: Critical aspects on the scope of a project

0 101 Government

by Stephen Bauld

The final scope of a project is critical to making sure all the details are complete and ready for the contractors to bid before the tender goes out.
Procurement Perspectives: Critical aspects on the scope of a project

This stage in the project management process involves the development of project objectives that define the scope of the task to be undertaken as well as the general project requirements.

Project scope management is concerned with ensuring the project will address the municipality's underlying need and thus that it includes appropriate allowance for all the work needed for that purpose.

Successful project managers use project management throughout the project lifecycle to identify and control all aspects involved in a project. The goal is to write a clear scope document that summarizes each of these critical areas of concern and provides the foundation for the work that follows. Issues include:

To what extent is it important to the municipality or other organizations that intend to carry out the project to undertake the project?

What purpose will the project serve upon completion?

What functionality and capability is it intended to have?

How important to the project sponsor are each of those aspects of functionality and capability?

Are the resources available to the project sufficient?

Often during the scope stage, it is necessary to negotiate the requirements of the project within the sponsoring organization.

Adjusting plans after they have been designed is expensive. Usually, the reason for such adjustments is a lack of sufficient consultation during the early stages of the process.

Sometimes, managers who are consulted do not realize the importance of the information they are being asked to provide. The consultation process needs to be mutually educational.

Managers across the organization must be made aware of the critical need to provide guidance to the project team. They also need to understand that changes will not be made lightly once the final design is approved.

However, it is critical for the design consultant to seek out the information that is necessary to achieve a successful and comprehensive design. It is never too early to ask staff, especially departmental and divisional managers, what they need in the new facility.

This aspect of consultation needs to be realistic. Little progress will be made if all one receives is a wish list. It is advisable to make clear that there will likely be trade-offs.

Managers should be asked what is most important to them and identify what they are prepared to give up in order to get it. Even when a checklist of preferred features is identified, it is best to discuss costs of features with design consultants before they begin work on the design.

This should be done not only with a view of eliminating those features that are too costly, but also in the hope of finding cheaper functional alternatives that may offer the same or nearly the same level of performance.

Often one will discover features that can be built into the design of a project have a substantial cost to them. One has to be skeptical when assessing whether the benefit is sufficient to justify the expense.

The cost of multi-storey parking is in the range of $15,000 to $20,000 per parking space. Obviously there is a benefit in having adequate onsite parking, but for a city hall-type facility, the expected cost of providing parking could be in the range of $15 million. One has to ask whether the benefit justifies such a cost. It is critical that the ultimate decision-maker understands the cost implications of the decisions that he or she is being called upon to make.

If that person is presented with the question, "Do you want adequate parking?" then the response will almost certainly be yes.

Stephen Bauld is a government procurement expert and can be reached at

Some of his columns may contain excerpts from The Municipal Procurement Handbook published by Butterworths.

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