Construction Change Management: Everything You Need to Know

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about construction change management.
construction change management
Construction Management Fundamentals
Roles & Responsibilities
Project Management
Tracking & Measuring Progress
Managing Cost & Budget
Quality & Risk Management
Leveraging Technology
Construction Management Fundamentals
Roles & Responsibilities
Project Management
Tracking & Measuring Progress
Managing Cost & Budget
Quality & Risk Management
Leveraging Technology

Accurately Track Time Spent On Change Orders With Workyard

Change is an inherent aspect of construction projects, in fact, numerous factors can trigger changes in project scope, design, specifications, schedule, and other critical elements throughout the endeavor. Managing these changes effectively is vital to ensuring project success; this is where change management in construction comes into play.

In its entirety, this is a vital process in construction projects as it ensures the effective handling of changes and their seamless integration into project plans. By embracing change and implementing effective change management practices, construction projects can achieve better outcomes. 

This article will explain the types of change in construction, the reasons for change, and various best practices to provide valuable insights and guidance for project stakeholders.

What Is Change Management in Construction?

Construction change management refers to the structured process of managing and implementing changes within a construction project. It involves the systematic approach to handling changes in project scope, design, specifications, schedule, or any other aspect that may arise during construction.

In the construction industry, change is inevitable due to various factors, such as evolving client requirements, design modifications, unforeseen site conditions, regulatory changes, and unexpected events. Change management helps project stakeholders effectively deal with these changes and ensures they are implemented smoothly while minimizing disruptions and maintaining project goals.

Effective change management is crucial for achieving project success and improving various aspects of construction projects, including cost control, schedule adherence, and client satisfaction. Below, we will take a look at these in depth.

Improved Cost Control

Construction change management helps control costs by evaluating the impact of proposed changes on the project budget. Through rigorous impact assessments, cost estimates, and analysis of alternative options, change management ensures that changes are implemented in a cost-effective manner.

It also helps identify potential cost overruns, manage additional expenses associated with changes, and helps you make informed decisions to minimize budget deviations. By effectively managing changes, you can avoid unnecessary expenditures, optimize resource allocation, and maintain better control over project costs.

Schedule Adherence

Change management plays a crucial role in maintaining project schedules. By evaluating the impact of changes on the project timeline, resources, and critical path activities, change management helps minimize disruptions and avoid delays. Effective change management involves:

  • Conducting schedule impact assessments.
  • Revising project plans and timelines.
  • Coordinating with contractors and subcontractors.
  • Ensuring seamless integration of changes into the existing project schedule.

By addressing changes in a controlled and efficient manner, you can mitigate schedule risks, maintain progress, and adhere to agreed-upon timelines.

Enhanced Client Satisfaction

The change management aspect of the project contributes significantly to client satisfaction by effectively addressing their evolving needs and requirements. A great way to do this is by:

  • Identifying their needs
  • Evaluating the feasibility of requested changes
  • Providing transparent communication

This ensures that clients’ expectations are met, their concerns are addressed, and their vision for the project is realized. You will enhance client satisfaction and foster positive long-term relationships by delivering on clients’ expectations and maintaining a collaborative relationship.

Minimized Rework and Conflicts

Change management helps reduce rework and conflicts arising from uncontrolled or poorly managed changes. By systematically evaluating changes and considering their impact on design, specifications, and work already completed, construction change management minimizes the need for rework.

It also ensures that changes are implemented effectively, avoiding conflicts and disputes among project stakeholders. Effective change management promotes clear communication, collaboration, and consensus-building, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings, arguments, and costly rework.

Increased Project Transparency and Accountability

This type of management is a great way to enhance project transparency and accountability by documenting change requests, approvals, and associated activities. It provides a clear audit trail of changes and their impacts, ensuring responsibility for decisions made.

Transparent change management processes facilitate effective communication, decision-making, and risk management, enabling all project stakeholders to have a shared understanding of changes and their implications. This transparency fosters stakeholder trust, promotes open communication, and strengthens project governance.

This significantly contributes to project success by improving cost control, schedule adherence, and client satisfaction. It enables construction teams to adapt to evolving project requirements, mitigate risks, and maintain project objectives. By proactively managing changes, you can achieve better project outcomes while minimizing disruptions.

Types of Change in Construction

Refers to
Design Changes
Modifications to the project’s design, drawings, or specifications. These changes can include alterations to the construction project’s layout, materials, or structural elements.
Scope Changes
Adjustments to the project’s defined scope, such as adding or removing work activities, deliverables, or project objectives. Scope changes can impact project goals, requirements, and overall project boundaries.
Schedule Changes
Revisions to the project schedule, including adjustments to start and end dates, milestone dates, or task durations. Schedule changes can impact project timelines, resource allocation, and sequencing of activities.
Cost Changes
Alterations to the project budget or cost estimates, including changes to material costs, labor expenses, or unforeseen expenditures. Cost changes can affect the project’s financial resources and require adjustments to the budget.
Contractual Changes
Amendments or revisions to the terms, conditions, or provisions of the construction contract between the project owner and contractors or subcontractors. Contractual changes may include variations in payment terms, scope of work, or project milestones.
Regulatory Changes
Updates or modifications to regulatory requirements, building codes, zoning regulations, or government standards affect the construction project. Regulatory changes can impact design criteria, construction methods, or compliance obligations.
Unforeseen Changes 
Unexpected events or circumstances that were not accounted for in the original project plans, such as changes in weather conditions, geological conditions, or force majeure events. Unforeseen changes may require immediate adjustments to project activities, resources, or schedules.

Please note: This table provides a general overview of common types of changes in construction and their definitions. The specific types and descriptions may vary depending on the project’s unique characteristics.

Reasons for Change in Construction

Changes in construction projects can arise from various factors, and understanding these factors is crucial for effective change management. Here are typical factors that lead to changes in construction projects:

  • Design modifications: Design changes may occur due to evolving client requirements, technical issues, or the need to optimize functionality, aesthetics, or sustainability. 
  • Unforeseen site conditions: During construction, unexpected site conditions may emerge, such as encountering soil instability, encountering underground utilities, or discovering hazardous materials. 
  • Client requests: Clients may request changes to align the project with their evolving needs, preferences, finishes, or functionality. 
  • Regulatory requirements: Changes in regulatory standards, building codes, or local ordinances can necessitate modifications to project plans, materials, or construction methods to ensure compliance. 
  • Market conditions: External factors, such as shifts in the market, economic fluctuations, or availability of resources, can influence construction projects. 

The potential impact of changes on project scope, cost, schedule, and quality can be significant. For example: 

  • Scope: Changes can expand or narrow the scope by adding or removing work activities, deliverables, or objectives. This can affect the overall project vision, requirements, and outcomes.
  • Cost: Changes can result in cost increases or savings. Additional work, design modifications, or unforeseen conditions may lead to budget adjustments, increased material or labor costs, or changes in project financing.
  • Schedule: Even small changes can impact project timelines by introducing delays or accelerating certain activities. Modifications to design, scope, or unforeseen conditions may require adjustments to the project schedule, affecting critical path activities and overall project duration.
  • Quality: Sometimes, change can influence the quality of the final product. Design modifications, scope changes, or shifts in material or construction methods can affect the project’s overall quality, functionality, durability, or compliance with standards.

Effective construction change management is crucial to mitigate the potential negative impacts of changes and ensure project success. 

It involves thorough impact assessments, cost and schedule evaluations, risk management, effective communication, and proactive decision-making to address changes in a controlled and efficient manner.

How to Manage Change In Construction

This entire process requires a structured and systematic approach to ensure that changes are effectively identified, evaluated, and implemented. Therefore, we’ve put a step-by-step process together for you.

Step 1: Identify Potential Changes

Establish a mechanism for identifying and capturing potential changes, such as regular project status meetings, site inspections, or client calls. You also need to encourage proactive communication among project stakeholders to ensure early detection of potential changes. It’s a great idea to maintain a change log to document and track identified changes.

Step 2: Evaluate the Situation

Assess the impact of each change on project scope, cost, schedule, quality, and resources. You will need to consider the feasibility and practicality of implementing the change, including technical, contractual, and regulatory implications.

In the evaluation process, engage relevant project stakeholders, such as architects, engineers, contractors, and subcontractors. By doing this, you’ll be able to get the full spectrum observation to better understand the situation.

Step 3: Get Approval for Change

Obtain the necessary approvals for implementing the change. This may involve reviewing and obtaining client approval, assessing the impact on project contracts, or seeking approvals from regulatory authorities if applicable.

As you go, it’s a good idea to document the approval process, including any conditions or constraints associated with the approved change. Always communicate the approved change to all relevant project stakeholders to ensure a shared understanding and avoid communication breakdowns.

Step 4: Develop a Plan

Develop a detailed plan for implementing the approved change. This is when you will need to identify the tasks, resources, and timelines required to implement the change.

Part of the plan development is assessing the situation. So, make sure you assess the potential impacts on the project schedule, budget, and quality, and make necessary adjustments to the project plans.

And remember, do not forget to coordinate with contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers to align their work with the change implementation plan.

Step 5: Keep Everyone in the Loop

When implementing a change, it is your duty to effectively communicate the approved change and its implications to all project stakeholders.

Provide clear and concise information about the change, including the rationale, expected outcomes, and any project plans, schedules, or budget adjustments.

At this time, it’s best to address any concerns or questions from stakeholders and ensure their understanding and support.

Step 6: Implement the Change

Now it’s time to execute the change according to the approved plan. As you do this, you will need to monitor the progress of the change implementation, ensuring adherence to the revised project plans, schedules, and budgets.

Step 7: Review the Situation Frequently

Regularly review the progress and effectiveness of the implemented change. Also, assess any deviations from the planned outcomes and take necessary corrective actions.

It is vital that you monitor the impact of the change on project scope, cost, schedule, and quality. Then, always be sure to update project documentation and reports to reflect the implemented change.

Step 8: Conduct a Final Review

After the change is fully implemented, conduct a review to capture lessons learned from the change management process.

This is the time to identify areas for improvement and document best practices to enhance future change management efforts.

By following this step-by-step process, you can effectively manage changes, mitigate risks, and maintain objectives while ensuring efficient communication and collaboration among project stakeholders.

Best Practices for Construction Change Management

Change can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to construction. So, we’ve decided to make your life just a little bit easier; here are three change management best practices that’ll help you manage change.

Utilize Pre-Built Templates

Pre-built change order templates provide a standardized and efficient approach to managing change. They offer a structured format for documenting change requests, evaluations, approvals, and implementation plans.

These save time and ensure consistency in capturing essential information, such as the nature of the change, its impact, associated risks, and required actions.

By using templates, project teams can streamline the change management process and facilitate effective communication and documentation. Best of all, they help maintain a clear audit trail and promote transparency among project stakeholders.

Establish a Change Control Process

Establishing a well-defined change control process will help you maintain project control. The process should include clear roles and responsibilities for reviewing, evaluating, approving, and implementing changes.

Additionally, it should outline the steps and criteria for assessing the impact of changes, obtaining necessary approvals, and updating project plans, schedules, and budgets. So, it’s vital that you regularly review and update the change control process to accommodate lessons learned and industry best practices.

Strive for Proactive Communication

You should always encourage open and proactive communication among project stakeholders to identify potential changes early on and address them promptly. This is the time to establish channels for sharing information, such as regular project meetings, collaboration tools, and digital platforms, to facilitate discussions and feedback.

It’s best to strive to foster a collaborative environment where all stakeholders can contribute their expertise and insights to the change management process.

Always Assess Any Given Situation

Thoroughly assess the impact of proposed changes on project scope, cost, schedule, and quality before making decisions. This is your chance to evaluate each change’s potential risks and benefits and consider alternative options to minimize negative consequences.

Use data-driven analysis, such as cost estimation tools, and risk management techniques, to make informed decisions about change implementation. Involve relevant subject matter experts and stakeholders in impact assessments and risk analyses to ensure a comprehensive evaluation.

Document Everything That You Do

Maintain detailed documentation of change requests, evaluations, approvals, and implementation activities. Documenting the change management process provides a reference for future projects and facilitates knowledge transfer within the organization.

Regularly review and analyze the outcomes of change management efforts, capturing lessons learned, and identifying areas for improvement. This will help you enhance construction change management on future projects. 

By implementing these best practices, you can streamline the change management process, enhance collaboration, mitigate risks, and improve project outcomes. Pre-built templates can expedite the change management process and ensure consistency in managing change requests.

Track Time Spent on Change With Workyard

To ensure that every hour spent on change is automatically accounted for, consider a time-tracking app like Workyard. 

Workyard leverages high-accuracy GPS to accurately (and automatically) log every minute or hour your crew spends on change work. This way, you can ensure fair compensation and proactively manage employee schedules. 

Workyard also offers free change order templates to help you navigate construction change management more efficiently. Take control of your time, improve productivity, and drive more profitable projects. Sign up for a free trial of Workyard today!

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