Executive summary. Contract interpretation can be difficult for a construction professional. Contracts are comprised of thousands of words and hundreds of paragraphs. Consider “contract mapping” to help quickly guide you through a contract.
Give me numbers, not words. Most construction professionals are technically minded and/or visually geared. This is to say that we’re better with numbers and drawings than we are with words. So, for many it may be easier to see things in a pictures or drawings. Flow charting is a great way to show a process, whether it is how to build something, a procedure on site, or in this case, how to read a contract. Flow charts have certain symbols, here are the most common ones:
Where can I use contract mapping? There are many ways you can use flow charts in construction. Here is just a handful or processes that can be graphically depicted using flow charting:
- Bid Protest
- Submittal Process
- Document Order of Precedence
- Quality Control Procedures
- Testing Requirements
- Notification Requirements
- Change Order Timeline
- Claim Timeline
My Story. I use flow charting often. I use it for internal controls, and I use it with clients to show the process of things like what’s listed above. The main benefit in utilizing mapping, or flow charting, is that it takes a process which is scattered around a 1,000-page contract and puts it in once simple graphic on one piece of paper in one location (on your wall or on your computer screen). Often times a process, say a change order process, will start in one document, go to another document, and then come back to the same document. For instance, in a contract change, the change may start in the Special Provisions, then reference you to the General Provisions, then out to a state stature, then back to the General Conditions. Because this process is not contained one page, it helps to map this process and reference each of the documents along the path to resolution.
A sample, with references modified, is on the next sheet. Follow the path of the change and notice that a change touches many documents. Hours spent to create this flow chart would take days or weeks in the field as a result of the daily mayhem that occurs on the jobsite.
Suggestion: hire your attorney to map out these processes for quick reference for your project management team. Pssst… or hire our firm!