Change Orders: What They Are and When You Need Them

In a previous post, we discussed the two different ways Bixly structures projects: fixed-bid and time and materials. In that post, we noted that one of the disadvantages of fixed-bid was the lack of flexibility. While fixed-bid will never be as flexible or adaptive as time and materials, there is a way to adjust the plan while in the midst of development: Change Orders.

What is a Change Order?

ContractA change order is a small statement of work that changes or adds to the original statement of work agreed to at the beginning of a fixed-bid project. Even with proper project planning, things can change. Even with a thorough discovery phase, clients may need to take their project in a new direction. Some of reasons may be entirely external: for example, a major piece of our tech stack just released an update, should we redo the app with this new updated version or should we keep it as is? A competitor released something that changes the client’s business strategies. Maybe a feature that at the time of project planning was considered unnecessary for the MVP suddenly becomes a key differentiator from the competition. There are lots of reasons why a change order might need to take place.

Once it becomes clear that the plan needs to change, just like with the original discovery phase, we want to decide what it should be changed to. It’s basically like a mini-discovery in which we ask and answer the same types of questions about this new set of features, ensuring that there as few assumptions as possible, and make sure that everyone is on the same page. Generally speaking a change order gets tacked onto the end, comprising a new final milestone, but not always. It depends on how it impacts the other features left to do and those already completed. The project manager will work with our development team to decide on the most efficient way to complete the new features.

When Do I Need A Change Order?

Change OrderA change order is not necessary when one or two small tweaks are needed. Instead a change order should be for a significant change to the project, something that comprises at minimum two weeks of work. Small changes and tweaks either really shouldn’t be considered at issue or should be decided at the level of written confirmation in an email, not a whole new piece of the contract. You can request a change order at any time during your project. If it’s at the end of a project, we may just consider it phase two rather than a change order. Either way, we’re here to work with you and roll your changes into your app.

Do I have to Pay for Work That is Made Irrelevant?

Sometimes a change order means that the team will have to redo features they’ve already built in a new way, with a new library, or piece of technology. Sometimes a change order means that features that have already been completed are no longer necessary. Yes, the client would still be responsible for paying for it. Even if we wrote code that doesn’t make it into the final app, we wrote it for the client at the client’s specific request.

A fixed-bid project that requires change orders requires the whole team to be very considered about the changes we make to the project mid-stream. While a fixed-bid project will¬†never be as flexible as time and materials (and it’s that way by design), it does have the advantages of foreknowledge: you know exactly what you will get at the end of a project and exactly how much it will cost.

Want to get started on your project today? Don’t hesitate to reach out and we will begin discovery!