Top 5 General Contractor Change Order Pain Points

By: Cameron Page  |  February 29, 2024

As a General Contractor, can you answer the question “How do I know our forecasts include all outstanding Change Order risk from all of our Specialty Contractors on all of our jobs?”  

On today’s modern, fast-paced, and complex construction projects, change is more frequent than ever, and not being able to answer that question at any given point in time puts General Contractors at risk. In addition to hampering accurate project forecasting, out-of-contract work that goes unaccounted for from trade partners threatens fee erosion and dynamic project decision-making. 

After hearing from our customers, we’ve identified these Top 5 Change Order Pain Points that General Contractors face:

  1. MANUAL PROCESSING: To ensure all outstanding Change Order Risk is accounted for, General Contractors must go through the tedious process of emailing all of their Trade Partners and asking for an updated Change Order Log. Through this slow and manual process, they hope to begin to understand all their risk. In addition to that, a GC must track down each supporting COR document, ensure all T&M Tickets signed by field Superintendents are accounted for, and painstakingly review each COR while manually creating PCOs in their system of record.  

  2. LIMITED VISIBILITY: Because of the manual nature of asking for Trade Partner Change Order logs in order to understand risk, there is a constant delay in knowing where your forecast truly stands. This makes it nearly impossible to confidently answer the question “How do I know our forecasts include all outstanding COR risk from each Subcontractor?” With this uncertainty, there’s almost always surprise costs from one or many of the 20, 30, or 40 Trade Partners on a given project, and a gamble as to what the dollar value of those surprises might be. 

  3. T&M Surprises: It takes weeks or even months after the fact for Specialty Contractors to surface and submit Change Orders and supporting Time and Material (T&M) Tickets for approval and payment, and documentation is often sloppy or illegible, leading to tense negotiations and risks to revenue for all stakeholders. 

  4. FEE EROSION: To make trade partners whole on valid (if unexpected) out-of-contract costs not covered by project owners, you’re ultimately forced to exhaust contingencies and allowances or even eat into your fee, significantly impacting project success and reducing the bottom line.  

  5. STRAINED RELATIONSHIPS: With all of the endless Change Order back and forth, it can be hard to align and agree, sometimes leading to bad feelings, soured relationships with once close-knit trade partners, and even jeopardized future business opportunities with clients. And your teams end up burned out, too.  

Curiously, all of these pain points manifest from the same root cause: the fact that as multiple stakeholders work on a project, everyone is tracking Change Orders internally, and how we align on what’s outstanding is through a manual process of:

  • Downloading and sending static Change Order Logs back and forth
  • Reviewing documents and tracking updates in different email threads
  • Building email distribution lists for design changes and other pricing exercises
  • Using triplicate carbon copy paper for tracking T&M Tickets 

At Clearstory, we call this The Change Order Gap, which is where Change Orders stall, get missed, and end up spiraling into one of these pain points. 

Clearstory was purpose-built to help General Contractors solve The Change Order Gap with real-time transparency and visibility into Specialty Contractor COR risk and exposure, eliminating Change Order pain points at the source.  

How do we do it? Clearstory works alongside your project financial solution to surface, track, and resolve out-of-contract costs from all of your Trade Partners across all of your projects in real-time. We do it with our core tool: a cloud-based Change Order Log that your trade partners access with a simple shareable link to ensure you have all of their files, all of the latest revisions, and everything tracked all in one place to eliminate the excuses that cover traditional processing delays.  

On top of that, Clearstory has powerful workflows for pricing exercises, backcharges, digital T&M Tags, analytics and project insights, and much more to solve the Change Order Gap. 

General Contractors using Clearstory report an instant upgrade to project financial clarity, massive time savings for project teams, faster and more profitable close-outs, and real-time alignment on Change Order Request status with trade partners who are likewise ready for a smarter, streamlined Change Order solution and a productive, happy jobsite.

The best part is you can get started in minutes without changing a single thing you’re doing today. Want to learn more about up-leveling your Change Order game and leaving Change Order headaches and pain points in the past? Contact us for a demo today. 

Cameron Page
Cameron Page

Cameron leads Clearstory as the founder and CEO. After 10 years as a Project Manager at Devcon, a leading design-build GC, he knew there should be a better way to track and communicate on Change Orders. He started Clearstory with a mission to help the entire construction industry get extra work processed and closed faster in order to reduce risk, waste less time, and strengthen relationships.

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