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How to Use E-Signatures for Change Orders

Change orders refer to a modification made to a construction project that has already received approval for construction. An approved change order permits alterations to the specifications, drawings, or other parts of the original contract, which could affect the contract's terms and conditions, costs, and timelines. Change orders are a common practice in the construction industry, with various stakeholders, including the owner, contractor, subcontractor, and architect, involved in the change order process.
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Traditionally, change orders were documented using pen and paper, requiring multiple signatures from parties involved. However, advancements in technology have introduced electronic signatures, commonly known as e-signatures, to streamline the change order process, making it quicker and more efficient. This article will explore how to use e-signatures for change orders and why they are gaining popularity in the construction industry.

Benefits of Using E-Signatures for Change Orders

The primary advantage of e-signatures is that they save time and cost, making it easy to document change orders in real-time. Before e-signatures, change orders had to be printed, signed, scanned, and then sent back, causing a significant delay in completing the project and ultimately increasing costs. In contrast, e-signatures allow change orders to be signed almost instantly, accelerating the approval process and reducing wait times.
Another significant benefit of e-signatures is that they provide an audit trail, documenting the entire approval process. The audit trail includes information such as the date and time of signing, the parties involved, and the contents of the document. By having a robust audit trail, stakeholders can easily verify that the change order was authorized and track progress.
Furthermore, e-signatures improve security and reduce errors. Traditional signatures on paper are easily forged or misplaced, and alterations can be difficult to detect. E-signatures, on the other hand, use authentication methods to verify the identity of signatories, ensuring that they are who they claim to be. Additionally, e-signatures reduce the likelihood of errors that often occur when documents are manually transcribed.

Using E-Signatures for Change Orders - Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Create a Change Order Document

The first step in using e-signatures for change orders is to create a change order document, capturing all the necessary details. The document should include a description of the change, the impact on costs and timelines, details of the parties involved, and any conditions for approval.

Step 2: Upload the Document to an E-Signature Platform

There are many e-signature platforms to choose from, including DocuSign, Adobe Sign, and HelloSign. Upload the change order document to the platform of your choosing, and specify the signatories required to sign the document.

Step 3: Send the Document to the Relevant Parties

Once you have uploaded the document, send it to the relevant signatories via email or other communication channels. The signatories will then receive a notification to sign the document.

Step 4: Sign the Document

The signatories will receive the document through the e-signature platform providing each with a unique link to sign the change order digitally. The signatories will need to confirm their identity using an appropriate method, such as a password, fingerprint, or face recognition software. Once confirmed, the signer will click "sign," and their e-signature will be captured on the document.

Step 5: Send a Notification of Completion

Finally, once all the signatories have signed the change order document, you will receive a notification that all signatures are complete. The platform will then generate a finalized version of the document, which should be distributed to all the relevant parties.

Conclusion

In conclusion, e-signatures are a valuable tool for managing change orders in the construction industry. They streamline the process by saving time, costs, and providing an audit trail of all actions taken. By using an e-signature platform, change orders can be quickly and easily documented, reviewed, and approved, accelerating project completion times while reducing errors and increasing security. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can effectively utilize e-signatures for your change orders and realize the benefits.

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