There’s no denying the importance of progressive delay claims for contractors. Done right, projects are delivered more effectively and it gives you an opportunity to bill correctly for the work that you do. Imagine seeing your margins go from 3% to 6% just by having a strong process in place to support your claims for scope creep?
In construction, project changes are inevitable. Building in the management of change is therefore a pragmatic and necessary step. For successful progressive construction claims having clearly defined integrated change management processes is a must. Here are some of the key facets to address to create a successfully integrated change management process.
Admit contractors are notoriously bad at change management
Contractors tend to tackle change in siloes with the resulting changes being handled in isolation poorly. To develop an integrated change management process that works contractors must:
- work with the whole project team to define and own the process
- make sure everyone understands their role in it and are held accountable
- show why things are being done and continually reinforce why change is important
Manage change before change manages you
A ‘Getting it done’ delivery mentality is all well and good. But all too often, moving too fast causes other aspects of the project to lose control.
Unmanaged perpetual change leads to a loss of control. If changes are managed poorly, we enter a vicious circle with secondary reactive decision making compounding the situation. The team soon becomes overwhelmed in continuous firefighting and reacting. Once you lose control of delivering the project, your bottom line is at risk. The pressure to protect margins leads to more knee jerk reactions which make the situation even worse again!
It is very difficult to pull out of a situation like this once it is in full swing.
Make time for talk
Good integrated change management forces people to talk to each other. People from different disciplines and areas of the project come together to own and sign off changes. They have to communicate to gain understanding and buy-in for the change they want to make.
Through these interactions, the impact of change is brought to life for everyone. Everyone understands the ramifications of that change on others. Issues are flagged early and tackled head-on, before they escalate and become a much bigger problem for the team. Seemingly small changes can often have a huge impact on other people and the overall success of the project.
Lead change from the front
Project leaders must take full ownership for change by leading from the front. They must see it as important, have a firm grip of what change is happening and oversee it. A simple process must be created that everyone understands.
Here in the UK, leading change is often given to the commercial team but their commercial bias means they often miss out a lot of the necessary steps because good change management is interdisciplinary, it requires a deep technical understanding of the project and is, therefore, more of a project management tasks than a commercial one.
Make change a leadership priority. Keep it top of mind so people start viewing change as their job and know the importance of flagging change as it arises. Workshops, regular training sessions, as well as weekly reviews to make decisions on information that’s pre-prepared should be part of your integrated change management process. Useful meetings rather than meetings for the sake of it must be the order of the day.
Poor change management impacts everything
It’s not just the cost that poor change management impacts. When a projects’ management is in chaos it feeds through to everything from quality right through to safety. Most site accidents are a result of poor change management. Things such as out of date site methodologies lead to contractors building the wrong things at the wrong time and at times in unsafe situations. This really shouldn’t be the case but I’ve seen it happen. If integrated change is implemented correctly, ideally at the start, these issues can easily be avoided.
Accountability is key
All changes must be tracked well-using change management tools or even a well-built spreadsheet. Tracking just needs to be done. It gives accountability for making change happen. Each change must have a named owner, who manages all aspects of the change, allocates sub-tasks and follows up to make sure it gets done.
We all must make integrated change a priority for each and every project we do. Change must be led by the project leader and they must have the foresight to hire the right people who can manage change well.