No one tells Project Managers this, but they are effectively the Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) on their projects.

Finance isn't accounting. Accounting deals with certainties, which is why accounting systems rarely work for building construction jobsites. Finance is about projecting future financial outcomes by tracking expected revenue, known costs, potential costs, and future expenses. This is the primary job of project managers because all workflows lead back to financials.

An additional problem is that commercial construction follows a nonlinear path. Changes can originate with both owners and subcontractors. Owners' changes become costs out to subcontractors. Subcontractor changes have to be tracked to be billed back to the owner or tracked as an exposure.

Change Orders have to be tracked for exposure and certainty as well. For each project, BuildPlane puts Change Order updates right in the middle of the Project Dashboard for each project:

This is a sample Project Dashboard.

Change Order financial widgets

In the middle column, you'll see Change Order widgets for Sub Change Orders and Owner Change Orders. Each widget follows a similar pattern:

Numbers across the top of the widget represent the count of the changes in each category. They are listed from most certain on the left to least certain on the right. As projects move closer to the end, there should be fewer and fewer "Potential Change Items" and "Pending" items. They should move to "Approved" and, for owner changes, "Executed."

Each widget also lists the dollar amounts of the changes, with the most certain numbers at the top and the least certain at the bottom. Again, you want everything to migrate up from "Potential" to "Committed" or "Executed."

These simple but powerful widgets deliver a real-time, easy-to-understand snapshot of project status. After all, as a CFO, you always need to be on top of the numbers.