The Change Order Request (COR) log is the only tracking document shared between the Subcontractor and General Contractor, and therefore the only way a General Contractor can be certain they have accounted for every single one of the Subcontractor’s extra work costs.
Staying atop this manual process is key to being a successful General Contractor, but with all the moving parts on a construction project, it is easy to fall behind on tracking every Subcontractor’s multiple change orders. Perhaps this is why we’ve called the change order request log the most important document in commercial construction.
The trouble is that COR logs are static, not dynamic or real-time, and therefore have dozens of manual steps to communicate around the process.
Here at Clearstory, we’re passionate about construction financials and helping companies better communicate between trade partners, General Contractors and Owners. From our own experience as PMs, we wanted to share 7 of the BIGGEST reasons the static COR log is problematic, and how to make changes to improve this part of your process.
1. The log is out of date the moment it’s sent.
A General Contractor may request this monthly, for example, but once it’s sent out, the log is out of date for nearly a month. This leaves massive potential blind spots for the project teams. If a subcontractor forgets to include a Change Order Request or makes an error in their log, the General Contractor is not able to provide the owner with a complete picture of project costs. When late CORs eventually get submitted, it results in a surprise for the owner and runs the risk of being rejected.
2. There’s little opportunity to collaborate.
Static COR Logs often require additional conversation and there’s no seamless way to collaborate, ask questions, or leave notes. The result is time consuming email follow ups or confusing PDF markups. Just managing the administrative work of updating the COR log is time intensive and a complete budget killer. Communicating about them is even more taxing.
3. Static logs are reactive, not proactive.
The static log is usually updated upon request or initiation, which means all of its contents are documenting things that have been sent long before action was needed. . Days and weeks can slip by and instead of processing change orders quickly, you’re chasing people down for updates.
4. Revision history and version control is extremely difficult.
Once a COR log is updated, the history of each change order gets murky. Keeping track of each update is time consuming and subject to online and offline communication that slips through the cracks. This makes disputes challenging to resolve with teams hunting down emails threads and old versions of the log to get a clear paper trail. This is especially true during an audit or review months later.
5. Every subcontractor has a different format.
This seemingly simple issue is possibly the biggest day-to-day headache. Receiving change orders in different formats is a guarantee that someone is working overtime to thoroughly review and and update changes into Excel, or worse, skimming through change orders to get the job done. Which leads us to the next issue:
6. Time and cost errors are frequent.
The financial exposure of static COR logs is not just time, but mistakes. The items above make everything from costs to dates extremely error-prone and hard to track down. Errors increase the likelihood that CORs get rejected by owners and then disputed between Subcontractors and General Contractors.
7. It’s impossible to attach files.
Each line item in a COR log represents a separate COR document. With a static PDF log it is impossible to attach each of these files and even harder to keep track of any revisions. Project teams are left to download COR files out of email separately and store them with a corresponding file naming system to ensure they can match the COR Log line item to a COR document that is being reviewed.
These issues may be part of your current workflow and fall into the ‘just the way it is’ attitude towards change orders. However, our customers see it differently with real-time cloud-based COR logs that speed up their communication, reduce errors, and help process change orders faster.