Scope creep has a way of undermining construction projects. As experienced Ft. Myers construction lawyers, we have helped countless construction professionals whose projects have unraveled. Controlling scope creep in the initial contract is one of the most important aspects of contract management. In the first part of our article, we discussed how projects need to be properly defined and controlled to avoid scope creep.
In this second part, we will focus on change orders. Change orders require updates to the contract. Contract provisions will not be able to cover every change scenario. However, a project manager should be skilled at making decisions based on this knowledge and the specific circumstances surrounding a change.
Create a Process for Handling Changes
It’s rare for a project to not experience at least one modification during its operation. It’s critical that any change is managed well to keep the project on track. If there is no change control process available on a project, establish one quickly. Implementing a formal change order process adds a level of security and reduces the likelihood of scope creep because it helps deter clients from requesting changes that may be unreasonable.
The change order process will enable project teams to modify the scope through specific controls and policies. Contractors don’t necessarily look forward to change orders because they slow down projects and can cause friction between parties. So, it’s a good idea to limit the number of change orders and to set clear expectations with the client.
Change Order Documentation
A client’s request can have an impact on the scope, schedule, or cost of the project. Are you prepared to handle their request? This is why a change order process is important. A change request is submitted as documentation of an actual change. To keep the process consistent and efficient, use a standard form that works for your company (i.e., Word or accounting software). Change requests should include information such as the actual request, the reason for the request, and the expected completion. The submittal, review, and approval process are all parts of the change order process and documentation. Following these processes and procedures may be difficult at times because some clients may push back; however, this will provide project consistency and better management of expectations.
Sometimes you have to know when to start a new project. Although this doesn’t occur often, some change requests require a significantly different scope of work that may be better handled with a new project agreement which includes a new timeline and budget.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.