Successfully Handling Variations

In this blog series we detail the theory and application of scope management. In our last 2 posts we looked at Scope Management and Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), and this final post of the series introduces the key elements of scope verification and variation management.

Scope verification is when the client and/or other stakeholders provide formal acceptance of all deliverables to the project managers. Scope verification also details how the deliverables will be verified against the original project scope. In other words, it’s the primary way for everyone involved in the project to make sure the project is staying on track. The client then signs off on all the deliverables as the project progresses.

The inspection process for scope verification varies but it’s more than simply an “eyeball” test. The inspecting party will measure, examine, and use other detailed means to ensure the project matches the specifications as defined in the project scope. This process can be seen as a form of quality control.

Sometimes, there are disagreements about scope verification. These must be settled before the next stage of the project. Scope verification often takes place at the end of each project phase – depending on the nature and size of the project.

Due to project complexity – and the normal flow of work – projects can, and do, change. Fortunately, there’s a process for making these changes and incorporating them into the project. This process is called “Scope Change Control” and it identifies and managers project changes.




Scope Change Control comprises:


  • Ensuring that changes are ultimately beneficial to the project
  • Determining and defining the scope change
  • Managing the changes within the framework of the project – so the changes take place successfully.


Project variations occur and these changes can range from the selection of the correct colour for a painted surface to a massive change like adding floors or changing foundation materials.

The contract will detail how these variations must take place. Changes must be fully documented and will require changes to the cost of the project. Even in simple construction projects, it’s understood that changes will take place; for this reason, building contracts usually contain conditions that make changes possible within the “general scope of the works”.

Contracts normally stipulate the builder must incorporate these  changes – but be able to charge for the changes. A major change like changing the size of the building is called a “cardinal” change. The builder can refuse to make the change and demand a completely new contract.

With variation management, a builder sets up a procedure to manage scope changes. It’s a formal process. Proposals for variations typically come from the client or sub-contractors. All requests for variations must be logged and approved. Variations often lead to additional costs and can require additional time. Stay up-to-date by taking an online CPD course with Blueprint CPD.