Hi Rob, I have already spent a ton of my time and money for an attorney to prepare my claim. I have met repeatedly with this owner's representative and we are going nowhere. What can I do to get this thing resolved?
- Claim Jumped
Dear Claim Jumped,
Most of the time, when an issue has risen to the level of being a claim, it is actually made up of a number of sub-issues. We have found the best approach to resolving disputes is to first break down each sub-issue and assign a cost to them in a "master list". Then the team can go through each of the sub-issues and agree on the logic behind the cost of each one. You build consensus over each issue, with both sides agreeing to the issues, one-at-a-time. This will result in fair, justifiable resolutions.
If, after going through the sub-issues, there are "overall" impacts to the project (loss of productivity, increased overhead, etc.), list them as a separate line item on your master list. Again, be specific and fair with the dollar amounts (or days) you associate with each impact. As you resolve the specific issues it will become clear what kind of "overall" impact the issues caused and that point you can describe how you determined the dollar value of the overall impact.
It is also important to recognize that most owners, especially public owners, cannot resolve an issue they don't understand-especially when they must "sell" the resolution to their superiors. If your counterpart does not understand the "overall" issue or how you arrived at your numbers, they will not resolve it.
Selling resolution usually takes a three step process:
- First, the owner needs to understand the key sub-issues and agree that the issue caused you extra work and cost.
- Second, they need to agree at the size of each issue in dispute and understand how you calculated the cost.
- Third, they have to be able to articulate these costs to their superiors.
It is your job to help the owner understand your project issues and then work together to reach a fair and justifiable resolution for each issue. If you get stuck, consider calling in a Partnering Facilitator experienced in Facilitated Dispute Resolution or a trained neutral to act as a referee and a catalyst.
Remember, fewer than 1% of all litigated civil cases in the U.S. ever go before a judge, so you are most likely going to settle your claim at some point. So who better than the project team to resolve the project issues?
So take some time and evaluate if what you are presenting can be understood and justified by the owner's decision makers. Will they be able to "sell" the resolution to their superiors? If you're not sure, or decide the answer is no, you have some homework to do.
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