How to Reduce Internal Change Orders (ICOs) On Your Large Projects

How to Reduce Internal Change Orders (ICOs) On Your Large Projects

Change orders are commonplace for many physical security integrators. Unforeseen obstacles, supply chain issues, and communication breakdowns are just a few of the hurdles integrators may face on a project.

In an international study involving construction contractors, it was discovered that change orders led to project cost escalations of 11% to 15% and project timelines extended by 10% to 20%. This represented a significant increase in time and expenditure compared to the initial contract terms!

While change orders initiated by customers can bring in extra revenue and tasks, benefiting project managers,  internal change orders (ICOs) triggered by team errors lead to cost overruns, requiring integrators to cover additional expenses for project completion.

Let’s take a closer look at what causes an ICO and what your project team can do to eliminate them.

What Causes Internal Change Orders?

No team starts with the intention to create additional work for itself. Still, between oversight failures and project mismanagement, large projects are often revised after the original contract is accepted.

Here are a few common reasons that trigger an ICO:

  •  Team miscommunication
  •  Design errors during the planning stage
  • Unforeseen conditions at the job site
  •  Lack of customer collaboration

To minimize the likelihood of unexpected issues and project revisions, a proactive approach to security and risk management is necessary. It involves conducting thorough risk assessments, identifying potential threats, and implementing appropriate security measures from the project’s inception. By addressing security concerns proactively, teams can significantly enhance the project’s overall success and prevent costly disruptions in the long run.

While it may be impossible for teams to eliminate ICOs, better communication and collaboration techniques can drastically improve the original scope of work and help teams account for unexpected circumstances.

Building Team Cohesion and Trust

Building team cohesion and trust is a smart strategy to optimize the success of new projects and reduce high-risk situations like ICOs. Cohesive teams are more open to diverse ideas, which can lead to innovative solutions and increased revenue. To achieve this, leadership should prioritize effective and lasting internal communication strategies, ensuring all teams collaborate efficiently.

For integrators, breaking down silos between design and installation teams is crucial. A lack of effective collaboration and information sharing can result in costly miscommunications and project changes. By fostering trust and open communication among team members, the chances of mishandled projects can be minimized, and everyone can work together towards a common goal.

Strengthen teamwork with effective internal communication strategies.

Investing in ways to build team cohesion can save thousands in labor hours and cost overages down the road. While it might not sound relevant to reducing ICOs, teams with strong cohesion are more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from team members and bring in additional revenue.

It’s also important for leadership to get all teams involved and to build an effective strategy for lasting internal communication. One study found that 60% of brands don’t have a long-term internal communication strategy, and 12% don’t even measure the effectiveness of those communications.

For integrators, this can be a problem because teams are often siloed. Design teams operate independently from installation teams, and both groups use different systems to accomplish their work. Without an effective strategy to collaborate and share information, it’s only a matter of time before miscommunications in the project lead to costly and significant changes.

Project Success through Team Cohesion

Lower team cohesion and fear of repercussions can also lead to mishandled projects. Right now, roughly one-third of employees say they’ve made bad decisions or submitted poor-quality work because they were too afraid to admit they didn’t know how to complete a task. Designers and installers who don’t feel comfortable asking team members and supervisors for help can create a recipe for disaster somewhere down the line.

By building trust between teams and team members, integrators can help to ensure that the original plans being passed along to the installation team have been thoroughly reviewed and revised before everyone has committed to the project timeframe and costs.

Collaborating With Customers

Working with customers to create design plans and contract documents is one of the best ways to eliminate the need for an ICO to be issued.

For integrators, breaking down silos between design and installation teams is crucial. A lack of effective collaboration and information sharing can result in costly miscommunications and project changes. By fostering trust and open communication among team members, including security measures, the chances of mishandled projects can be minimized, and everyone can work together towards a common goal.

As much as possible, every project should be a collaborative effort between project stakeholders and integrators, considering security risks and potential security issues. From kickoff meetings and consults all the way to walkthroughs and preliminary designs, customers are a wellspring of information about the project vision, the conditions at the installation site, and more.

Fostering Customer Collaboration

By collaborating with customers while considering security dependencies, your team can improve the quality of the project and reduce the number of external change orders. On top of that, asking the right questions helps to ensure that the designs your team comes up with are a great fit for the customer’s needs, with detailed information about security validation and mitigation measures for sensitive information.

With just basic information while addressing security concerns, sales, and design teams can eliminate many common causes that create ICOs. That information may also give the project owner and contractors key insight into the estimated total price and whether to request additional time for the project before signing a contract while also considering the project’s lifecycle and security aspects.

These questions, which include security considerations, can be difficult to answer if you’re just focused on hardware. By identifying the reason for the purchase and aligning with the customer’s end goal, integrators can go above and beyond in establishing rapport and building trust – a huge driver in customer decision-making when choosing brands to buy from and companies to work with.

Leveraging Technology

Technology has helped integrator teams communicate more effectively with customers while addressing security measures. One study found that 98% of employees connected to a technology platform used that platform to collaborate, considering security risks, and 83% depended on that technology to collaborate in the first place.

In others, these digital tools have made it even harder to access information effectively — especially between teams and stakeholders concerned about physical security.

While email makes it easy to contact customers and send documents, many integrators still use pen and paper tools to conduct site walkthroughs, and those using digital software to create customer floor plans typically end up using applications created for other industries. To top it all off, teams use different software applications to create designs, calculate costs, and compile information, sometimes neglecting the aggregation of security-related data.

Challenges in the Field

A member of the sales team might use an app to conduct a site walk, but they’ll end up using a spreadsheet to itemize costs and create a parts list without considering offline security measures

Here’s the challenge: Creating each piece of information separately leads to lost documentation and a lack of visibility for key stakeholders on the project, potentially compromising security validation.

  • This is one reason that customers often get left out of the loop when it comes to reviewing floor plan mockups and designs, which may have security implications.
  • Customers aren’t privy to the integrator’s internal process, including security risk assessments. 
  • They can provide feedback when a system designer or a sales rep shows up for a site walk. Still, many other phases in the design process are hidden from view, especially security-related aspects.

Weeks later, a design shows up that the customer had a limited say in creating. It looks right. They approve the design and agree on the price, only to find the entire project drowning in problems as soon as the installation begins, potentially due to security issues.

Internally, ICOs are everywhere as installers uncover new details about the project that require changes. The associated cost overruns and missed deadlines cause the project to fall behind or fail entirely, which might also be linked to security vulnerabilities.

The worst part: With the right technology, these problems can be avoided, provided that the technology considers security measures and dependencies.

But integrators need project management software and digital tools specifically designed for them, not for generic project or construction industry jobs. These tools should also include security validation, physical security considerations, and detailed information about potential security risks and their mitigation.

Reduce ICOs and Boost Team Collaboration With SiteOwl

SiteOwl was created to help integrators and customers in the security space collaborate more effectively.

As a platform, SiteOwl acts as a repository for all project information. In the field, it provides live project updates and a bird’s eye view to installers and technicians. At the home office, project managers can monitor project progress in real-time. Project stakeholders can also join the project, get status updates, and stay connected throughout every stage of the design-install process.

These tools help integrators address problems quickly and implement changes before additional costs and delays negatively impact the project.

There will always be unforeseen conditions in projects and complications that require ICOs. Still, by enhancing team cohesion and customer communication, integrators can reduce the number of written change orders they receive.

Want a better look at how SiteOwl can streamline your project workflow? Schedule a free demo today!

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