Why Every Specialty Contractor Needs A Change Order Communication Tool

By: Cameron Page  |  December 13, 2023

In construction, change happens on every project. But for Specialty Contractors, Change Order Requests represent a real risk to top-line revenue: you need to spend the money first, and then rely on the dependability of the Change Order process between you and your General Contractor to get paid. 

This is especially painful because Change Order work can typically account for anywhere between 5 to 30 percent of the total revenue that a Specialty Contractor makes on a given job.

While that sounds like it can be an opportunity for additional revenue, Specialty Contractors often wind up financing projects as they are waiting on Change Order approvals, severely limiting the cash flow they might need to take on additional jobs. In addition, revenue-at-risk on Change Order Requests often isn’t repaid until project close-out, and even then, a Change Order can still be rejected or negotiated downward in value. This can negatively affect relationships with General Contractors and lead to being taken off bid lists.

So whether it’s responding to a pricing request for a design change, jumping on out-of-contract work on a T&M Ticket basis, or surfacing a change for your General Contractor, it’s critical for Subcontractors to:

  • Process documentation quickly
  • Communicate the change clearly
  • And stay organized on what’s outstanding

But with the existing tool sets available, the process can be challenging. That’s because the standard industry workflow to resolve Change Order exposure is to email a COR Log back and forth and then manually reconcile the information with what has (or hasn’t) been entered into everyone’s project financial software. 

How the Change Order Gap Increases Risk for Specialty Contractors 

At Clearstory, we call this The Change Order Gap, the gap between all the different project financial systems where everyone tracks their own project budget. Since these systems contain private financial information and are closed by design, construction teams continue to rely on antiquated external workflows to align on outstanding Change Order exposure and risk.  

This risk not only causes cash flow and revenue impacts for Subcontractors, it can also burn relationships with General Contractors if not managed properly. In addition to plodding through manual COR Log reconciliation, construction teams struggle with other ineffective processes as they attempt to close the Change Order Gap:

  • Paper T&M Tickets signed on the jobsite can be difficult to understand, are easily misplaced, and have to be physically transported to an office for scanning and manual, error-prone data entry. GC project managers often face frustration and surprises due to the lack of visibility into what existing tags are out there. 
  • Delays in payment occur as Change Order review and approval gets lost in COR Log and PDF mark-ups, disconnected email threads, and uncertainty about backup documentation and version control.  
  • Like COR Logs, pricing exercises on design changes are likewise typically sent out via email and manually tracked down and tallied by project teams.

No matter the workaround, getting dependable results means navigating the fundamental process and system gap that leaves teams uncertain of their risk. 

Clearstory is Designed to Bridge the Change Order Gap for Specialty Contractors

This is what Clearstory solves. As the only Change Order Communication Tool purpose-built to align all stakeholders on Change Order Risk, we help Specialty Contractor Change Orders get processed and approved faster by creating transparency and alignment with GCs to eliminate surprises.

Our core product is a cloud-based, shareable Change Order Log that you send with a simple link to your General Contractor to ensure they have all your documentation. In addition, we offer tools to supercharge processing time and cut down on the back and forth, like our mobile app for digital T&M Tags, our shareable T&M Log, instant pricing, Change Order templates, and more. 

By closing the Change Order Gap with Clearstory, you can dramatically reduce your revenue-at-risk, improve your cash flow, and boost your team’s productivity and morale by absolving them of T&M Ticket and COR Log paperwork drudgery. 

The best part is you can get started in minutes without changing a single thing you’re doing today.

Streamlined Processes, Real-Time Responsiveness 

Instead of emailing your General Contractor Change Order Requests, you simply upload and send them through Clearstory. We automatically generate a cloud-based, Universal Change Order Log to share with your GCs – just click the link and you’re instantly up-to-date with a complete history of every file, photo, document, revision, and current status. 

When your GC asks for an updated log, simply send the shareable link and let them know the Universal COR Log will always show the most up-to-date information in real-time. This puts your company at the top of the stack of Change Order Review. You can get insights into Days Aging across all your projects, instantly see whether your GCs have viewed your Change Order documents, and track revisions and approvals all in one place. 

But it goes beyond just uploading and sending. Leverage our mobile app to track field-directed extra work backed up with photos and collect digital T&M Tag signatures from your General Contractors. From there, you can create priced-out Change Order Requests with just the click of a button using our COR template and importing your labor, material, and equipment rates. And it’s all instantly logged in Clearstory for the home office.

If you’re ready to eliminate the lost revenue and headaches associated with the Change Order Gap, you need a Change Order Communication Tool purpose-built to solve the manual processes the industry has relied upon for too long. With Clearstory, you’ll reduce your revenue-at-risk, improve the productivity and morale of your team, and get back the cash flow that you need to run and grow your business. 

Interested in gaining these benefits and closing The Change Order Gap on your next project? Reach out to the Clearstory team today for a quick demo and see how easy it is to get started. 

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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