In this article, we'll explore practical advice for construction project managers to proactively plan, implement effective change management processes, and maintain open communication with stakeholders, keeping projects on track.
Before diving into solutions, it's essential to grasp the concept of change orders and their impact on construction projects.
Change orders are modifications to the original construction plans, which may arise due to unforeseen circumstances, design changes, scope adjustments and compliance reasons.
They are a common occurrence in construction projects, but when poorly managed, can lead to significant issues for the programme of works.
Change orders can stem from various sources, such as:
The repercussions of inadequately managed change orders can be far-reaching, affecting various aspects of the programme of works:
Proactively planning for potential changes can make a significant difference in minimising the impact of change orders on your programme of works. The following methods can help identify and mitigate risks related to change orders:
Allocating resources for potential changes, such as a contingency budget and buffer time in the project schedule, can help absorb the impact of change orders.
This proactive approach allows project managers to address changes without severely affecting the project's overall budget and timeline.
Performing comprehensive site assessments before starting construction can help identify potential issues that may necessitate change orders.
This information enables project managers to address these issues during the planning phase, reducing the likelihood of disruptive changes during construction.
Establishing a realistic project schedule that considers potential risks, uncertainties, and change orders can better equip project managers to handle change orders.
This approach involves breaking down tasks into manageable components, incorporating buffer time, and regularly reviewing and updating the schedule as needed.
"Establish a well-defined change order process that includes a thorough assessment of the impact on the project's schedule, budget, and scope," says Andrew Poradzisz, CCO of Archdesk and ex-construction business owner.
"This well-defined process enables project managers to proactively plan for change orders and address them effectively when they arise".
To reduce the impact of change orders on your programme of works, implementing effective change management processes is crucial.
A streamlined process allows project managers to evaluate, approve, and execute change orders efficiently, minimising delays and costs.
A clear and well-defined change order process helps ensure changes are assessed and implemented systematically.
Key elements of an effective change order process include:
"Clearly communicate the potential consequences of change orders to stakeholders, ensuring that all parties understand the implications before decisions are made," advises Andrew Poradzisz.
By doing so, project managers can ensure that stakeholders make informed decisions and avoid surprises down the line.
Continuously monitoring and controlling changes throughout the project lifecycle helps project managers identify and address issues promptly.
This approach involves:
Promoting a collaborative environment encourages open communication between team members and stakeholders, enabling them to address change orders more effectively. Some strategies to foster collaboration include:
Clear and open communication with all project stakeholders is essential in managing change orders effectively.
By keeping stakeholders informed and involved throughout the project, project managers can ensure smoother implementation of change orders and reduce the negative impact on the programme of works.
A robust communication plan establishes channels, frequency, and content for project updates, ensuring all stakeholders remain informed about project progress and changes.
Key components of a successful communication plan include:
Proactively communicating change orders to stakeholders helps manage expectations and reduce potential conflicts. This approach involves:
Utilising technology can streamline communication, ensuring stakeholders have access to up-to-date information and facilitating informed decision-making.
Project management software, communication tools, and mobile applications can all aid in maintaining open communication with stakeholders, improving overall project outcomes.
Embracing technology is essential for construction project managers seeking to minimise the impact of change orders on their programme of works.
"Leverage technology to track and manage change orders, providing visibility into their impact on the overall programme of works and facilitating informed decision-making," suggests Andrew Poradzisz.
Technology can not only streamline the change order process but also improve communication, collaboration, and decision-making.
Project management software is a valuable tool in managing change orders effectively. Many software solutions offer specific features for change order management, including:
In addition to project management software, collaboration and communication tools can play a significant role in handling change orders efficiently. These tools facilitate real-time communication between project stakeholders and can include:
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a digital representation of a construction project's physical and functional characteristics.
By incorporating change orders directly into the BIM model, project managers can visualise the impact on the programme of works and make informed decisions.
Benefits of using BIM for change order management include:
By utilising technology in managing change orders, project managers can gain better insights and control over their projects, minimising delays and costs.
Change orders are an inevitable aspect of construction projects, often leading to delays and cost overruns.
To minimise the negative effects of change orders on your programme of works, it's essential to take a proactive approach, implement effective change management processes, and maintain open communication with stakeholders.
If you want to find out how Archdesk can help you minimise the impact of change orders, get in touch today.
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