The only thing we can truly rely on is change, especially in the trades world. Extenuating circumstances, whether in our control or the product of external conditions, affect projects more than we would like to admit. Whether we like it or not, projects will be delayed and rescheduled, and sometimes it is difficult to know what to do in each unique circumstance. As you navigate these challenging situations, consider these four tips:
1. Consider whether you need to delay or reschedule
First, you must decide whether it is better to only partially delay your project, or completely reschedule. If you are anticipating project changes due to impending weather, for example, you may just need to delay it a little bit. You may also consider a partial rescheduling, where only the operations of the project affected by the disruption will be rescheduled. A complete rescheduling of the project will postpone your entire set of operations, including everything that might not have been affected by the disruption.
2. Openly communicate with your client and your workers
Creating appropriate expectations with your clients and workers is fundamental in creating trust. These expectations are created and strengthened through frequent, open, and detailed communication.
It may be tempting to wait to notify clients or workers of project changes until the day of the expected start date; however, this is the opposite of what will ultimately help you and your business. Communicating both with your workers and clients throughout the process, and regularly notifying them of any changes will not only build trust, but will also minimize end-of-project frustrations and surprises.
When you are notifying a client of changes, consider following this outline:
- Start with an apology to set a sincere tone.
- Clearly explain the reasons for the delays in the project.
- Give an expected length of the delay or rescheduling start date.
- Provide updated deadlines.
- Ask if they have any questions or concerns.
3. Construct (or reconstruct) a Time Impact Analysis (TIA)
A time impact analysis (TIA) is used to gauge the impact of changes and delays throughout the process of your project. Performing this analysis will allow you to properly plan for the future, and determine what impact any changes will have on your business and on the project. This is especially useful when considering what to do when rescheduling a project because, ultimately, time is money, and issues concerning time and money can severely impact not only the project, but also your business.
4. Extensively document everything using change order forms
Lastly, be sure to extensively document all of the changes made to the project. Doing so will give both you and your customer clear evidence of any changes made, and it will put you both on the same page. You may want to consider using a change order form or document to keep track of changes.
A change order form is a document that is used to record any changes made to an existing and original contract. These forms create a tangible record of additional or modified services, costs, and the scope of work.
Using a change order form to document changes and updates in your project, especially if you are rescheduling, will give both you and your clients protection. Having clear, extensive documents to report changes is vital.
Making the decision to reschedule a project can be tricky. With the proper amount of consideration, however, it can become simple. Above all, remember to keep your workers and clients at the forefront of your mind. Projects are often comprised of countless parties, so the decision does not always have to be yours alone. Use your resources to make the best decision for you.