Managing Contract Retention Using the Right Tech Tools
April 28, 2021
Within nearly every construction contract is a relatively small clause that can have big financial implications for contractors: the contract retention clause. There are things you can do, however, to proactively mitigate the risk of a delayed or withheld retainage. And you can let today’s advanced tech tools do some of the heavy lifting for you.
This kind of software has functionalities designed to streamline particular job tasks or processes. Consider these functionalities when weighing tech tools to help you manage contract retention.
- Forecasting. Have you ever been blindsided by schedules that went awry and caused you to have to scramble to resolve them? Even if you were to manually monitor your schedule every day, you might not notice some of the smaller deviations taking place that could lead to bigger ones down the road. Consider using forecasting as a valuable planning tool to avert such situations. Forecasting tools have the unique ability to flag tasks that are starting to veer off from the established schedule estimates. They do this proactively and automatically. Whether it’s a gradual trend or a sudden event throwing the project off course, these alerts give you the chance to stay as far ahead of delays as possible. That means you can evaluate the situation and plan next steps before anything compromises the completion date of the project, which is often the start of the countdown to when you receive your retainage. Forecasting hands over the reins of control to you.
- Risk management. This planning tool helps you guard against the effects of unpredictable occurrences. To help reduce the likelihood of you being held accountable for things beyond your control (which could affect whether your contract retention is held back), using risk-management software to run “what if” scenarios can help you come up with data-driven turnkey plans of action. As your project evolves and turnkey plans need to change, simply adjust the data as new or amended information presents itself so you can test revised plans.
An added bonus with this risk-management functionality is you can use it as a basis for future projects that may experience similar unknowns. Once you’ve created one contingency plan, you can use it to develop others down the road. And especially if you have to put one of those backup plans into action, you’ll discover how seamless the process can be and how well the adjusted plan works to keep the project on track. That can give you added confidence in knowing you have some control in dealing with unknowns, which could mean your contract retention is less likely to be impacted.
- Quality assurance (QA). Stopping progress to fix an error or flaw is a common source of schedule delay. With QA, you plan prior to the project’s start all the procedures and documentation required to ensure those mistakes don’t happen in the first place. Without it, you could be chasing time-consuming repairs for mistakes that could have been prevented; and you risk putting that fast-approaching completion date (on which many retention payments are based) in jeopardy.
Digitizing the once-tedious manual QA process has made the recording, uploading and sharing of documentation a much more streamlined process. That means site crews have timely access — often via their smartphones and job site tablets — to change orders, safety data sheets and blueprint updates that allow them to keep meeting project milestones. If you’ve seen too many avoidable mistakes causing unnecessary delays in task completion, this is definitely something to add to your tech toolbox.
- Commissioning. Has your retainage ever been held back because of a lengthy defect liability period? Or because of late-stage repairs or rework at the project’s end? Building commissioning software may help reduce this likelihood, especially when implemented at the beginning rather than the end of a project. How? By proactively coordinating and recording all equipment and systems testing throughout the build, repairs can be made earlier, with little to no impact on the ultimate completion date. Those milestones are more likely to be met, and with less chance of extended repair work pushing out the completion date.
- Contract. Contract software may be the most directly relevant tech tool you can use to increase the odds of getting the timely retainage you’re entitled to. Because it deals with the contract itself, it can help you manage the milestones throughout the life cycle of your project so you won’t miss an obligation that delays your payment. InEight Contract does this and more, allowing you to connect to your accounting system so you can ensure the right contract retention percentages are withheld, and also are paid when due.
InEight Contract is just one of a full suite of construction software solutions that boast the above functionalities. Schedule a demo of any or all of the ones you may be most interested in and see how they integrate with each other. You could benefit from the added advantages each brings beyond their ability to help you claim your retainage.