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The Secret to Managing Construction Change Orders

MEP project managers are closely involved with every project detail, from bid to closeout. But the data they need to work efficiently isn’t always easy to access. 

This is especially true when managing change orders. Change orders are a critical aspect of project management that impact a project’s profitability. 

Effectively managing change orders helps ensure that projects remain on track and within budget. A change order process that takes too long — or worse, an agreed-upon process isn’t in place — can cause crippling delays that, ultimately, lead to profit fade.

The Pitfalls of Traditional Change Order Management Processes

Estimating the cost of a change isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. A single change almost always has a ripple effect on other project parameters, such as labor, materials, equipment and overhead costs.

Without access to the information and the tools needed to accurately determine the cost of a change, project managers are forced to ask the estimator for input. The estimator then must stop what they’re doing to calculate the estimate before going back to the project manager to communicate the cost. With multiple projects and a host of change orders, this process can disrupt the estimator’s work to bid on new projects and make it difficult for project managers to stay on schedule. 

Estimating the cost of a change without input from the estimator also puts profitability at risk because project managers often determine the cost based on limited or outdated information. 

Delays also arise when project stakeholders aren’t on the same page. Change orders often require project managers to coordinate with multiple stakeholders, including architects, engineers, contractors and clients. When stakeholders aren’t working from the same information or data between the office and the field isn’t in sync, miscommunication or misunderstandings can result in errors, delays and cost overruns. 

Consider, for example, a field contractor submitting a change request for a different water filtration system. The project manager then forwards the request to the designer to assess its feasibility while calculating cost variations and getting sign-off from the customer. In the meantime, the process takes too long and left in the dark, the field contractor loses patience and goes ahead with the work. While going forward may fulfill the goal of keeping the project moving, doing the work without proper approval puts the contractor at risk of not getting paid.

The Benefits of Construction Change Order Software

Fortunately, advances in technology make it easy to overcome these challenges. Connected construction management solutions, such as Trimble Project MEP, make it possible to manage projects from a single source of information. It connects MEP project teams for better collaboration and provides project managers with simplified estimating tools and the data needed to accurately price change orders without pulling in estimators. 

Managing projects from a single source of information also eliminates the confusion that can arise from out-of-date information. Requests for Information (RFIs), submittals, change orders, drawings, models and reports are accessible from one platform. This ensures everyone is working safely, building off the most current information, and the project team is always updated on what happens on the job site.

Improving MEP Project Efficiency By Reducing Change Orders And Rework 

Traditional change order management processes are no match for the increasing complexity of today’s projects. For more information about change orders and how Trimble Project MEP helps project managers identify issues faster, reduce rework and deliver more profitable projects watch the free webinar above or contact us.