5. Change is Inevitable. Be Prepared for It
If you've followed the first four steps here, you've created a clear and concise project scope document. You've gotten a handle on tracking time and expenses so that you can quickly identify where you might be hemorrhaging money at any point in time. You've established points of contact on both the project team and client side. You've even determined how you are going to communicate, when, and how often. Now it's time to get prepared to handle any change that comes down the pike.
Because, no matter how much you plan, chances are there's going to be at least one event that requires you to react in a way that keeps things under control. Just like you took the time to choose an appropriate solution for your project scope document, you'll want to create or find a document to manage change requests. If you don't do that, you risk your client questioning budget items later. You don't want to be lacking in documentation should that happen. Remember that this is not about pinching pennies or billing for every little thing. It's using documentation to create a relationship that is based on trust and respect.
Ultimately, you and your client are protected when there is a formal process for making changes, and for documenting those changes. You never know when a stakeholder is going to question something. Having evidence that the client has signed off on any changes can help ensure that everyone is on the same page.
A good change order document will cover what the change includes, a predicted cost of making the change, and the actual cost once the change has been made. You might also include information on how that change will impact the budget, and how that change will be absorbed. For example, will the change be made thanks to an increase in the overall project budget, or will you save money by reducing costs somewhere else.
Finally, when a client sees the impact of a change they request, they are more likely to think about that decision. They may even decide to forego the change in order to stay within a disciplined budget.