• Management Tips

How to Improve the Change Request Process

Very few things in life are certain, but there is one you can count on to be true: No matter how much you plan, something will come along that requires a change, especially when you’re managing a construction job.

Sure, there’s a scope, budget, schedule and contract documents that everyone wants to stick to, but despite these plans, something will surely prompt a deviation. It could be differing field conditions, oversights or mistakes in the plans, resource availability or something beyond anyone’s control. As a successful project manager, it’s your duty to be prepared for the inevitability of change with a change request management process.

What Is a Change Request?

Well-managed construction projects are ones that have documented procedures and processes. If one of your foremen finds that site conditions are different from what the plans indicate, you usually can’t unilaterally decide to make changes to the plans to accommodate the differing conditions. You’ll need to run these changes by the owner/client as well as the engineer or architect who is responsible for the design. You need to formally notify all stakeholders of the need for a change through a change request or a change order request.

When Is a Change Request Necessary?

Any deviation to the original plan requires a change request. When you entered a contract for the job, you did so with the terms and conditions outlined according to an original plan:

  • Scope: A comprehensive list of all the activities to be done to deliver the project per the agreement
  • Schedule: The time frame to complete all activities related to the project, including documentation and other non-field tasks
  • Cost: The total amount of money to complete the work and/or the payment terms of the job

Depending on your contractual agreement, there may be other terms that dictate how the work will be performed or other conditions for acceptance by the owner. These could be requirements related to quality control, safety management and subcontracts. Any change to the original plan should initiate the change request process.

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What Goes Into a Change Request?

Contractual changes should always be formally documented, so a change request form is necessary to record the following information:

  • Project info: Pertinent project details such as project name, contract info and work authorization details as well as the name of the client and construction company
  • Change request or change order number: May be a request number indicated by the contractor or a change order number once approved by interested parties
  • Description: Describes the change, whether it’s a scope change, an addition or deletion to the work to be done or another contract modification
  • Reason for the change: Clear, concise reason for the change
  • Price: A tabulation of all expenses associated with the change, even if there is no net change to the overall cost
  • Schedule change: The number of days that should be added or deleted from the overall project to account for the change
  • Impacted contract documents: Changes to affected construction drawings, specifications or estimates
  • Supporting documentation: Background info, details, product sheets and other paperwork related to the change order request
  • Other information: Pertinent info about the change request, such as sources of funding or other details related to change management
  • Signatures: Blanks for the project manager, approving owner’s representative and other important parties to sign and formally approve or acknowledge the change request

Is a Change Request Form Necessary?

Regardless of the size of your project, you want your processes to be consistent and standardized. This is conducive to better project management, especially related to document control, project closeout and formal and informal audits. Having a standardized, formal process means a more efficient change request process flow.

Imagine having to come up with a different change request form on a multi-year project with hundreds of deviations from the original project. A form or template takes all the guesswork out of figuring out what needs to be included in the change request. Moreover, a standardized form helps all parties know what to expect when (and not if) a change is needed.

How can I Improve the Change Order Process?

When a change is necessary, it’s not only important to have a procedure for processing requests, but it’s also necessary to have one that moves quickly. Imagine having to make a change due to an emergency on site. Suppose a natural disaster or government-imposed embargo makes certain materials unavailable. The change order process should be expedited, avoiding causing undue impact to the project. In other words, if a change requires a month’s worth of work to be added to the schedule, processing the change order request should not have an adverse effect on the project progress itself.

Fluix is your one-stop, cloud-based go-to for automating the change request process flow. You can quickly complete forms and route them to all interested parties for review and approval. Automatically track the progress on any mobile device without special coding or unique operating systems. This flexible, scalable, powerful platform puts you in control for a better way to manage change on your projects. Say goodbye to missing change information, long processing times and improper documentation. Get started today with a 14-day, no-obligation trial that doesn’t require a credit card.

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