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Change Orders-Systemic Challenges in Construction

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e-Builder.net 800.580.9322 info@e-builder.net | support@e-builder.net SYSTEMIC CHALLENGES IN CONSTRUCTION Change is the Only Constant INTRODUCTION "It is change, continuing change, inevitable change that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be." (Isaac Asimov) Scientists, numerous philosophers, and project managers have long struggled with the concept of change. Yet, changes remain the most prevalent source of disagreement during the construction lifecycle. This paper discusses change management as an organizational objective, with a focus on tools to address and focus efforts on impacts to the scope, schedule, quality and cost of the project. DEFINING CHANGE What is change? The word itself, as a verb or noun, has a diverse set of meanings which appear to defy their incorporation into a solitary definition for construction project purposes. To simplify the concept, if a project or contractual scope of work has changed, it has in some manner been made different or undergone transformation that would not have occurred without interference. Change is here defined for the purposes of this discourse as any activity or decision that alters the course of the project; it is a variation or deviation from plan. That variation can be positive (a benefit to the project or a party to the contract) or negative. Change is ...any activity or decision that alters the course of the project; it is a variation or deviation from the plan. That variation can be positive or negative. Throughout history, change has been recognized as a universal environmental constant that impacts all human activity and also affects the physical plane of existence. "The contemporary view is that change is a natural phenomenon and therefore must be acknowledged and managed." (Owens & Martin, 1988) Countless construction projects validate that philosophy, as projects rarely progress precisely as anticipated. Project change must be acknowledged and managed; it cannot be ignored. Modern philosophy and change theory posit that change is inevitable, while supporting the concept that change can be controlled and even avoided. Tarot cards, long used as a tool to interpret or divine the future, are not absolute in their predictions – the reading is typically construed as the likely future outcome if the current path is continued undisturbed. The future can be changed and risks potentially averted by taking immediate appropriate action. Then again, taking action may surface secondary risks that are more serious than the first. Risk exists, whether action is taken or not. Risk and change are forever linked in an intricate dynamic. It is important to remember that change does not occur without some impetus. According to the Construction Industry Institute (CII), "Project changes are the most common source of disruption, disagreement, dissatisfaction, and litigation among participants on a project." This is due to the nature of the industry. In construction, the parties to the contract each have their distinct motives and seek to meet their respective goals. These objectives can be assigned a monetary value.

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