When it comes to reducing the risk of claims or eliminating them altogether, your project information (and your ability to retrieve and analyze it) is your best asset. Managing this information throughout the design and construction processes is critical to ensuring this valuable asset is developed to defend against contractor claims.
The best way to get ahead of claims is to be able to identify the biggest offending circumstances, and avoid them. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look (like we did) at the latest research in claims management best practices, such as E.C. Harris’ Global Construction Disputes Report 2013.
According to the E.C. Harris report, steer clear of these most common situations (listed in order) to stay out of the claims business altogether:
1. Incomplete or unsubstantiated claims
2. Errors in or omissions from Contract Documents
3. Failure to understand or comply with contractual obligations
4. Differing site conditions
5. Nonpayment of schedule/cost extensions due to change orders
Aside from just keeping it honest, the obvious way to avoid disputes/claims altogether is to focus all of your pre-project planning around the contract requirements, which serves as the pre-planning guide for all of your project workflows, notification timeframes, and documentation requirements:
- Never communicate about your project via email. Always communicate within the project system of record, in order to link your communication with the project and contract item.
- Build project workflows and communications processes based on the contract, before any team collaboration begins.
- Create a system of alerts/notifications that mirror the contract’s required workflows and notification timelines.
- Categorize legitimate versus bogus RFIs. Some contractors will try to overrun others with RFIs to make the owner or construction manager look unresponsive or deficient. Learn to identify and organize legitimate and bogus RFIs.
- Resolve disputes in real time. Don’t’ let them fester into claims with deep effects on cost and schedule. Set up bullets 1-4 above to support your dispute – just in case.
To get started applying these techniques today, join our CMAA Webinar: Best Practices for Leveraging your Project Management Information System (PMIS) to Prevent and Defend Against Claims.