Identifying Problems of Scope Changes in Large Construction Projects in Australia

The research topic

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Rationale and Significance

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Preliminary Literature review

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Project Management Plan

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Compliance Statement

No. Comments/Suggestion Response
  1  Clear explanation on research methodologies It is revised and further refinement to proposal is made to ensure proper alignment between all sections.

Research Project Topic

Identifying Problems of Scope changes in Large Construction Projects in Australia.


The research topic of the whole group is “Identifying Problems of Scope changes in Large Construction Projects” in the country of Australia. All the work or the essential activities that are to be performed within the construction project determines the overall scope of the project. The scope of the project is being designed to inform the whole team of the project, effectively & efficiently. The scope involves the various essential deliverables that may highly affect the various large projects of construction adversely.

The changing scope in the large construction projects is also called as the scope creep (Han, 2013). The project executives should understand that the scope of the project of large construction changes because of the lack of defined goals. This issue may delay the working of the whole project or may result in the excess within the defined budget. The necessary changes that may occur within the scope should be properly communicated to all the related stakeholders.

1. The rationale of the study (the need)

Context and Issues Surrounding Research Topic

Changes in project scope depend upon the decisions of project stakeholders and a wide variety of factors is involved in the process of project scope changes, such as cost, budget and project timeline. Scope control process is instrumental when it comes of exerting influence upon the factors leading to project scope changes and controlling their impact. The change in business requirements is one of the causes that may bring about changes in the overall project scope in Australia-based construction industry.

In addition, time, resources and cost are the factors leading to the occurrence of changes in project scope. In order to guarantee project success, it is essential to define project scope and it is important to see that project scope is formed out of the activities that ought to be accomplished. The lack of proper planning and ineffective mechanism of risk identification are the issues with respect to scope changes in construction projects in Australia (Aziz and Abdel-Hakam, 2016). In addition, there are other constraints with respect to project scope’s definition in Australian construction projects, such as time, cost and resources.

In accordance with the opinion of Durdyev, Omarov & Ismail (2017), the lack of clarity in the project scope is the factor with regards to the delay in the project and that is why careful planning is required for addressing this particular issue. Due to the lack of clarity in project scope, project executives may face issues with respect to the successful deliverance of project deliverables. Taking these aspects into consideration, it is important for the organisations to ensure that a list of specific project goals and deliverables are determined and documented along with other aspects, such as costs, deadlines, tasks, functions and others. As commented by Ling & Li (2019, February), the well-defined project scope is considered to be the contributor towards the success of a project whereas the poor definition of a project can lead to generating negative consequences.

Therefore, having clarity in defining project goals is the necessity and demand of time. In this context, the opinions of Fageha & Aibinu (2013) can be mentioned who emphasised upon the management of project scope for the improvement in the participation of stakeholders along with the enhancement in project outcomes. The lack of scope management is a factor to be considered and it is deduced that project teams often face issues while making decisions on making changes to project requirements and scope. At this point of time, project scope management has become a necessary criterion.

Need for Project

With the help of this project, it is possible to decipher issues of scope changes in large-scale construction projects in Australia. The project can also be proved as the beneficiary for construction workers with respect to assessing project issues. In addition, the concerned project will be helpful with respect to gaining insight into the Australian construction industry and the prevalence of project delay related issues. Through conducting research, the researcher would be able to determine issues pertinent to scope changing in construction projects of Australia. Time and cost are the two factors to be considered while assessing the scope of the project and they are subject to change based on changing scenario in business. The discussion was intended to have an insight into the Australian construction industry and some large projects, which failed or delayed due to scope changes. Through this project, it is possible to determine and assess solutions through which, it is possible for the project practitioners to ensure the minimisation of insight project issues.

The issues of scope change are one of the dreaded things that can happen in a project as it incurs unnecessary time and money, reduces the level of satisfaction and thus, causes a reduction in the expected project value. Many projects had suffered from delay or failure due to a change in the scope. This had been responsible for causing frustration among the project teams and stakeholders, which has continually eluded (Sindi, 2018). Changes in any construction project are inevitable in nature and thus, there is a possibility that creeping of scope change may occur. This is the reason because of which handling the issues is one of the most challenging and daunting in construction projects.  The effective use of this project can be helpful when it comes to gaining into the occurrence of common project problems in the Australian construction industry. The project’s importance can be validated considering the needs of understanding the inherent reasons for project failure. In other words, the project would be beneficiary in terms of giving insights on the rationale of project disasters as well as negative consequences of projects in the Australian construction industry.

Possible Limitations of Previous Study

Project scope related aspects are assessed in various previous scholarly studies. While conducting research on project scope in the construction industry, the emphasis is given on addressing vagueness in defining project scope and requirements. In previous studies, this fact is accepted that project scope is not well defined, which ultimately leads to the occurrence of issues in projects (Corbett, Webster & Jenkin, 2018). In previously related findings, the scope creep of the project has been defined and referred to while emphasising on the needs of documenting project requirements. In the construction industry, the scope of the project must be enhanced considering the necessity of guaranteeing project success and in this context, it is important to see that more time, as well as monetary resources, are invested. In this context, it can be said that the previous studies have not addressed the implications of investment decisions with respect to enhancing project scope (Liu et al. 2017).

In addition, there are other limitations, which are not addressed in the previous study, such as the role of artificial intelligence in the process of aiding project management leading to the enhancement of project scope in the construction industry. In many cases, it was found that due to additional functionality of work has been burdened in a project, which is not desirable in nature. The fact that a construction project is large and required various changes from time to time in order to complete it within the deadline is true in all senses. This includes various steps that allow the project to move from its initial stages to final stages and in due course of time, additional features and requirements are added to it for enhancement of aspects. However, in some case, this leads to scope creep, which is identified to be detrimental in nature. The authorization of that additional requirement is mainly the concern in this case (Sanghera, 2019). The authorization of those aspects affects the entire scope of the project due to which, the results change to a great level affecting the satisfaction level of customers. Thus, it is important to understand these aspects and identify ways of resolving the issues.     

2. Significance of the study

As far as the significance of conducting the study is concerned, it can be said that the study will be useful in terms of getting insight into project scope and its implications in the Australian construction industry. In addition, the study will be useful for understanding the causes pertinent to the changes in project scope with reference to the case of the Australian construction industry. With the help of conducting this study, it is possible to gain insights into the risks, the involvement of which has raised the eyebrows of project practitioners and academias. At this point in time, it is essential to adopt risk mitigation and minimisation strategies for generating better performance of the project. With the help of analysing different aspects of project scope, it is possible to ensure the sustainable success of the project in the long run. Henceforth, it is important to see that the scopes of the project in the construction industry are enhanced. In addition, project management related solutions are to be determined and analysed, which ultimately would help the project executives to ensure that negative consequences are minimised and the changing paradigm of project scope can effectively be capitalised for generating project success in the long run.

From the study, the advantages that can be obtained was to minimise the chance of failure of construction projects primarily in Australia. As found in many studies that there are numerous examples in the history that stated small and large construction projects had undergone several issues specifically change in project scope that affected the success rate of completion to certain extent. From these examples, the amount of time and cost that was wasted in due course of time was estimated to be huge however, there are not many studies that can be conducted to find strategies to minimise the causes of project scope changes (, 2009). The scope of this study has been limited to construction projects in Australia because of several reasons. The most daunting reason in this case is the investment done in these projects are huge and thus, failure cannot be affordable. From the past, it can be seen that the failure rate in this sector has been higher than other sector as a result both money and time has been wasted to a large extent.  

3. Preliminary literature review

Definition of Project Scope

With respect to project scope, it can be said that it refers to the activities, which are required for ensuring the deliverance of final outcomes. In an effort to delivering final project outcomes, it is important to see that it is possible to plan scope properly. In addition, scope control and scope verification are also prevalent practices with respect to defining the project scope. The project scope involves the documentation of project goals and the deliverables against them, which are attained through the performance of the project. In accordance with the opinion of Raza (2019), the project scope is instrumental in terms of defining what are the things, to be added into the project and on the contrary, what are the aspects to be removed from the project upon its completion. On the other hand, (Meredith, Mantel Jr & Shafer (2017) notified that defining project scope is the necessary criterion for improving project performance. Defining the ways of managing projects will be useful in terms of mitigating project risks along with the establishment of the project schedule baseline.

Figure 1: Causes and effect of Scope Creep

(Source: Moneke & Echeme, 2016)

Causes of Project Scope Changes

There is a wide variety of project scope changes in the construction industry, such as changing needs of business along with the definition of benefits, inappropriate planning, realised the risk, changes in project resourcing as well as project funding are found. In addition, change in the schedule of the project is also a cause with respect to changes in project scope. In accordance with the opinion of Liu et al. (2017), project scope related issues occur due to the lack of coordination between construction parties and owners of financial constraints. From this perspective, it can be deduced that the owners along with financial issues facilitate changes in project scope. On the other hand, Teye Amoatey & Anson (2017) commented that changes in project scope play a vital role in causing disruptions to construction project and at the same time, it has the potential of causing cost overruns. Due to the project scope changes labour productivity is affected to a greater degree. As opined by Meredith, Mantel Jr & Shafer (2017), the project changes occur due to the customers’ tendencies of ameliorating products and services. Project changes may also occur in case stakeholders change their mind and at the same time, changes occur in the regulatory framework. Also, project scopes are subject to change in case of the poorly defined requirements (Kerzner, 2017).

Figure 2: Cause of Project Scope Changes

(Source: Created by the author)

Involvement of Risks in Changing of Scope in Construction Projects and Use of Tools and Techniques

In changing paradigm of a construction project, a wide variety of risks is involved, such as scope risks, scheduling risks, resource risks and technology risks. Scope risks are occurred due to scope creep and issues with respect to project integration. Scheduling risks have occurred when the completion of a project requires a longer period of time. Resource risks occur due to the lack of availability of funds. Technology risks arise out of faults in hardware and software (Kopp, Kaffenberger & Jenkinson, 2017). With respect to the construction industry, a wide variety of risk factors are existent, such as issues related to subcontractors, labour and machinery and adding to these, the availability of materials and quality of construction works are the issues pertinent to construction projects.

As notified by Iqbal et al. (2015), change in codes and regulations are regarded as the risks, which may make an impact on project scope. Henceforth, it is important to ensure that risks are properly identified and estimated. In an effort of managing and mitigating risks, it is important to apply diverse tools and techniques, such as work breakdown structure and RACI matrix. In addition, qualitative and quantitative risk analysis techniques are used for addressing risks. Azhar (2011) notified about the business information modelling risks having relevance with the construction industry and it is used for effective planning and design of construction projects. In business information modelling risks, two aspects are deciphered, such as legal and technical.

Negative impacts of Scope Changing on Large Construction Projects

As far as the negative impacts of scope changing on large construction projects are concerned, it can be said that project scope changes make an impact on the project cost. In project management, the term scope creep has gained popularity as a buzzword. The project delivery is impacted to a greater degree with the changes of scope in the project. Scope creep occurs in case of the occurrence of poorly structured control mechanisms as well as inappropriate identification of project requirements (Kerzner, 2017). Scope control is regarded as the vital issue with respect to achieving the success of a project and its effectiveness helps in minimising the negative impact of project scope changing on project delivery. Projects, if poorly planned can lead to a wide variety of issues having relevance with budget overruns and project failure. In project management, the scope of change can divert project resources to those activities that are not deciphered in the original version of the project scope. As a result, the project schedule is hampered to a greater degree.

The reduction in customer satisfaction is one of the major impact of scope change. It can be seen that based on the scope of the construction project as well as the objectives of the project, the builder offer a document stating the characteristics and features of the building. Depending on this expectation, the customer gets attract to and acquire the plot (Aziz and Abdel-Hakam, 2016). However, with change in scope, the requirement as well as the mechanism changes which affects the end result of the project to a great extent. This is not as expectations of the customers and thus, the satisfaction of the customer is reduced. The time constraint is one of the most factor that has a negative impact on the project. The change in project scope extends the duration of a project to a great deal that affects the objectives of the program. Another related factor that is found to have negative impact due to the issue is use of large amount of cost. Since, the additional requirement keeps on adding, the burden of cost increases with time.    

Figure 3: factors responsible for change in scope of project

(Source: Sindi, 2018)

Project Scope in Construction Industry

In the construction industry, project scope refers to a written statement elucidating the activities for the successful deliverance of outcomes. At the initial phase of construction, the project scope statement is created with the objective of clarifying the deliverables at the end of the project of construction. With respect to the construction industry, Sindi (2018) notified that scope creep is an important popular industrial term and it is regarded as the negative process resulting from the slow progress of a project and it results in cost overruns as well as the failures of the project. For many construction experts and project executives associated with the construction industry managing project creep and minimisation of its impact has been a major area of concern. In the construction industry, managing risks and finances are also an important factor to be considered and along with this, it is important to determine what scope ought to be outsourced for the successful deliverance of project outcomes. In the construction industry, the emphasis is given on planning along with setting the activities of the project to be carried out for the successful deliverance of outcomes (Chai et al., 2015).

Case studies in relation to change in scope of the project in construction in Australia

The first case involves the construction of the new Southport Court House and Watch House.  There were a number of project objectives and out of which some did not meet. As per the comment of the Project Services Project Manager that stated that the Superintendent’s Representative in respect to non-conforming work, which was disregarded when though, raised the concern it was a constructive comment. There were various areas where the standards were dropping especially in case of defect rectification. The issues were related to the urgency of Requests for Information (RFIs) that showed the secret agenda in the project.

There was a marked shift in the collaborating over the past months and issues in term of existing occupants which was a major concern in respect to interruption and noise to operations in case of relocation (Crespin-Mazet, Havenvid & Linné, 2015). In due course of time, it was demonstrated that the process of partnering had lost the direction as the stakeholders were not applying in the principles within the project. At the time of writing, it can be seen that there were 200 variations and almost 50 claims of the contract in the project. The aim of the contractor was to retrieve money however due to the low margin that had been associated with the traditional tendering and liquidated damage, the process of partnering was finished and thus, the fight for money started.

The Sydney Opera House is an iconic building and is recognised as a global symbol of the country, Australia in the world. The project was previously scheduled to be completed within four years with a budget of AUS $7 million however, it took 14 years with a cost of AUS $102 million to complete. Thus, it is stated as one of the disastrous construction projects in the heart of history from both financial point of view as well as the entire management plan. Cheng et al. (2019) opine at the initial starting of any project, the project aim and objectives need to be clearly defined that act as a guideline for the completion of the project. The three main factors, in this case, are time, quality and cost. In the case of this project, the quality was the most prioritised aspect and was considered as the unrestricted goal of the project with no attention to cost and time limitation. The designs of the architects kept on changing with modification and remodification of the features, which constantly changed the project scope to a varying degree. The main concern of the architect was the design rather than cost, stakeholders or cots objectives, which was a challenge.

From the above-mentioned two case studies, it can be understood that the change in project scope causes multiple issues within a project and resulting in a challenging issue. Therefore, the current study will aim to assess the issues related to change in project scope in some of the construction projects in Australia.        

4. Research question(s) and objectives

 The research questions are as follows:

  • What are the changes in scope with respect to the construction project in the Australian Construction industry?
  • What are the issues with respect to project scope changes in the Australian Construction industry?
  • What are the impacts of scope changing on project performance in the Australian Construction industry?
  • What are the causes with respect to scope changing in the projects in the Australian Construction industry?

The objectives of the project are as follows:

  • To illustrate the changes in scope with respect to the construction project in the Australian Construction industry
  • To discuss the issues with respect to project scope changes in the Australian Construction industry
  • To discuss impacts of scope changing on project performance in the Australian Construction industry
  • To review the causes with respect to scope changing in projects in the Australian Construction industry

4.1 Definition of key terms

There are certain key terms, which will be defined in this paper, such as scope creep, project management, project control, project schedule and others.

5.  Research Methodology

5.1 Research Approach

Research approach can be described as the predefined set of assumed procedures that helps to continue a detailed data analysis and collection method. The research approach selection depends on the addressed research problem. The research topic is based on the identification of the problems in changing the scope of Australian construction projects. The projects required to set some logical arguments, which include familiar facts and properties. The deductive research approach is being selected to identify the mentioned project issues (Best and Kahn, 2016).

It supports the data flow reasoning from general applicable area to the specific one. The deductive approach starts with a well-defined and relevant theory, the research hypothesis is developed as per the mentioned theory and finally, the data are collected, analysed &interpreted to test the mentioned hypothesis. It involves the logical and scientific investigation regarding the issue identifications in term of project scope changes in the Australian construction projects. The deductive approach is the most suited approach in the projects as researchers find the best way to identify the scope changing issues that match with the predefined theoretical aspects widely. The researcher analyses the previous theories that are adopted in the previous research. The most appropriated, appreciated theory is considered, and the hypothesis is tested based on the emerged theory adoption. There is no empirical concept necessary to establish the logical arguments in the deductive approach. Causality is considered as the most emphasized content in the deductive approach.

On the other hand, the inductive approach is defined as a method of reasoning that can be viewed as the gathering of evidence for the truth of the conclusion. This is in contrast to the deductive approach. The conclusion in the deductive approach is certain in nature; however, the truth in the conclusion of this approach is based on probability and can be obtained from the evidence offered. According to many studies, it can be stated that the reasoning in the inductive approach is a derivation of the basic principle of specific observations and thus, many of these arguments do not have the form (Daugherty, Hoffman & Kennedy, 2016). It starts with theories and observation that are proposed at the end of the research in the form of a result of observations that are denoted in order to generate a conclusion or a theory.     

Figure 4: Research Approach

(Source: Daugherty, Hoffman & Kennedy, 2016)

Data in research is collected for investigation on a specific topic, therefore, it can be stated that based on the type of data required for the research, the type is selected. There are two types of data based on the method used for collecting it. The two types of data include primary data and secondary data. Palinkas et al. (2015) opined that primary data is considered as the data that had been gathered by the research for a specific aim and thus, it is raw material collected from a participant at the point of generation. For example, data collected using interview, survey, observation, focus group and experiments.  On the other hand, secondary data are e4xisting data that has been collected by someone else for another purpose.

The example of secondary data includes books, journal articles, websites and reports of the company (in case the research is company-specific in nature). For this research, the researcher will focus on the use of a mixed method. In other words, the researcher will focus on the use of qualitative and quantitative methods both for achieving research objectives (Kumar, 2019). Both types of data will be collected for validating research hypotheses. The use of quantitative data will be undertaken in order to gather numerical variables that will help in understanding the issues from the viewpoints of team members. On the other, for obtaining vivid and in-depth responses, the use of qualitative data will be undertaken.

5.2 Data collection methods and analysis

The researcher will focus on the application of the mixed method while facilitating data collection. Survey and interview methods will be used for data collection (Kothari, 2004). For analysing survey data, the descriptive statistical method will be used. On the other hand, the transcript method will be used for analysing interview data. A research population is a large collection of objects or individuals that is the main focus of the study or the research question. The aim of the research is intended to offer benefits to the population because of which, the research is conducted.

As per the opinion of Chow et al. (2017), either a research population is defined as a well-defined collection of objects or individual that have similar characteristics and are of main concern in the study. It can be seen that all the objects or individuals present in a certain population have a common and trait or characteristics. A subset of a population is known as the sample. The idea of the sample has arisen from the fact that the researcher is unable to test the entire set of the population which is large in number. The sample is considered as a small representation of the population and based on which, the conclusion can be drawn. Therefore, the sample size needs to be appropriate and large for the warrant of the statistical analysis. According to Boddy (2016), the function of a sample is supporting the researcher to conduct the research on the individuals present in the population that help in deriving at the conclusion and can be applied to the entire population. 50 project team members will be selected for the survey and three project managers will be selected for interview. The use of probability sampling techniques will be employed in case of the survey as well as the selection of the companies and in case of the interview; convenience-sampling technique will be employed. Only three managers were chosen for conducting the interview due to time constraint as well as for ease of managing qualitative data.

5.3 Ethics Statement

Ethical consideration is the most critical part of the research that is analysed properly to ensure data validity. It is an empirical study while planning and collecting data from the sources. Ethical consideration is taken into account to investigate the data quality so that the ethical issues can be eradicated. The ethical data interpretation is important which gives the assurance regarding data accessibility, data validity, and data timeliness (De Vries & Munung, 2019). Confidentiality refers to identify the information accessing and keep data in a secure place. Anonymity refers to identity hidden people to keep their identity records away regarding data safety. High-risk data collection zones are also considered under ethics to prove data security (Donoghue, Miller & Buys, 2017). The researcher will adhere to the University’s rules and regulations while putting ethical considerations into practice.

6. Team Contribution

Name Main areas of contributions Self-assessment of quality of contribution
Kranthi Literature review My contribution meets leader/team expectations
Venkatesh Library search My contribution is below leader/team expectations
Sai Kumar Putta Research approach and method My contribution exceed leader/team expectations
Vishnu Proofreading My contribution exceed leader/team expectations
Sathwik collect references and editing My contribution exceed leader/team expectations

Table 1: Team contribution

(Source:  Created by the author)

7. Research Project Management

Project exclusions

The project inclusion involve consideration of the large construction project in Australia however, small construction projects were not taken into consideration. Moreover, to narrow down the geographic field, the country was chosen to be only Australia however, construction projects are conducted in all part of the world. In addition to this, secondary data collection such as case studies analysis was excluded in the study that limits the scope of the research to certain extent. However, the researcher uses both qualitative and quantitative data and uses real-time data in order to assess the topic of discussion that help in validating the finding to a great extent.

Project schedule and milestones:

The milestones of the proposal are:

  • Selection of a topic for research
  • Approval of topic
  • Conducting introductory research
  • Conducting vast literature review
  • Deciding upon the methods used
  • Team contribution
  • Research Project Management

Risk register including analysis and response strategy

No. Risk Probability (1 very low, 5 very high) Impact (1very low, 5 very high) Assessment (impact x probability) Response strategy
1 Financial risk 3 4 12 To keep aside an additional amount of money
2 Time 4 4 16 To work using Work break down strcture
3 Quality 4 5 20 To maintain quality at each stage using TQM techniques and tools
4 Human resources 3 3 9 Proper training of the staffs
5 Team management 2 4 8 Proper planning and communication among the team members
6 Lack of planning 1 3 3 A proposal of the activities need to be planned before conducting the research
7 Resource constraint 3 2 6 Use of effective and appropriate resources
8 Lack of effective communication 2 3 6 To mitigate communication barriers at all stages and effective collaboration
9 Lack of understanding 1 2 2 Proper understanding of team members
10 Inappropriate media usage 1 2 2 Planning of media requirements

Table 2: Risk register

(Source: Created by the author)

Stakeholder analysis:

Stakeholder Influence (ability to effect changes) Impacted by project Information needed Outcome desired
Researcher  No influence Low impact Basic Completion of research
Project Manager No influence Moderate impact High level Completion of Project
Project team members No influence Moderate impact High level Completion of Project
Construction companies   High influence High impact Survey and interview Understanding issues of scope change in projects
Employees of construction companies High influence High impact Survey and interview Understanding issues of scope change in projects

Table 3: Stakeholder analysis

(Source: Created by the author)

Data management

The organisation of the primary data collection that was done using survey and interview. The use of software such as EndNote was used in this research for organising the data collected. The researchers will require considering the ethics of data collection, ensuring there is no data modification done, and no data is collected through unauthorized persons. The immunity of the data is enhanced through ethical consideration. Ethical consideration helps to eradicate data approval issues by announcing data validity and data reliability. Ethical consideration involves confidentiality, anonymity, relevant component accession, etc.

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