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Tip of The Week: Managing Project Variations

Variations to the initial scope of a project (also commonly known as change-orders) are not unusual for those who undertake job-based work. Managing those changes efficiently and effectively can be tricky - but it is essential that they are managed correctly if you are to recover, and profit from, the extra work you will do outside the original scope. This week’s tip focuses on the best ways to manage variations in WorkflowMax.

How to manage a variation or change order

If you don’t have a quote

If you have not estimated or quoted the job, but will be invoicing that job out on the basis of actual time and costs, then all you need to do is make sure that evidence of any instructions from the client regarding changes to the job’s original scope are easily found. This protects your business and client relationship if there are disputes over your bill.  If you are not already using our Collaboration Manager to automatically attach emails and their attachments directly on to the appropriate job, then you may like to read this post.

If you do have a quote

Where you have already quoted the job, there are two methods you can use to track change orders.

Method 1. Issue a new (updated) quote, which represents the original scope, plus (or minus) any additions or deletions from the original scope.  This will become the new ‘master’ quote for the job.

Method 2. Create a new (sub) job, linked to the original job, which represents just the scope of the change order or variation.

Method 1. Update the existing quote with the added variations

We recommend that this method be used where the changes to the scope of the job are comparatively minor.


To update the job's existing quote to include variations:

  1. On the job's Financial tab, select New Quote from the left hand menu. A new quote is created by copying all of the tasks and costs that are currently existing on the job across, as a starting point, for the new quote.  Note that this will not necessarily be an exact copy of the original quote, unless all the tasks and costs on the job are still identical to all the tasks and costs on the original quote.

Project Variation

      2. Add (or remove) task and cost lines to represent the changes to the scope of                the quote.  You may want to consider using Labels on your Tasks to reflect                    'variation XX' so that each variation can be easily identified. If applicable,                        include 'variation XX' in Cost item or notes fields as well.

+More:  Task and Task Labels


This may require that you delete some tasks and costs.  NOTE! Do not just ‘un-tick’ the task or costs item in the left hand column - this will just make that item non-billable. To delete any task and cost items that are not part of the amended quote you will need to drill-into the item and select ‘Delete Task’ or ‘Delete Cost’ as required.


  1. We recommend that you save and print a draft version of the new quote, before you issue it, and use this to check that it contains all the correct information, including both the scope of the original quote, and the correct variations. From there, issue and send the new quote to the client for approval.

Once the new amended quote has been approved by the client, locate and open the draft quote, and ‘Accept’ it.  This new quote will have an entirely new Quote Number, and becomes the new ‘master’ quote for this job. The invoicing engine cannot refer to more than one quote, and so will only ever refer to the single, current,  ‘master’ quote when calculating what is left available to invoice.


The original quote is retained on the job, in an archived state, but only for historical reference. It cannot be used to bill from.

Once the new master quote been accepted, you may want to consider creating a job ‘Folder’ for each variation. Job folders allow you to create a sub-set of the job, letting you view and report on each variation.  

+More:   Using Folders

Method 2. Create a brand new (sub) job, with a separate quote.

Issuing a new master quote on the original job can work well where there are only one or two variations, and where those variations are relatively small and simple.

Where there are two or more variations, and/or where those variations are more complex, the difficulty of managing them will increase.

In which case we recommend creating one or more new (sub) jobs, linked to the master job.

This process enables much more robust management of the various elements of the job.

The key to making this process work well is to ‘link’ the jobs together for ease of management, reporting and invoicing purposes.  This can be done in several ways, and you may like to one use more than one method.

Method 1:   Start by adding a custom field called Project ID (or similar) to the job and enter a common Project ID name on the original job and any subsequent variations to the original job.

+More: Custom Fields


Method 2:   If you are not using manual job numbering, temporarily switch it on while you create meaningful job numbers for your original and variation jobs (For Example:  J-00234-Master, J-00234-Var1, J00234-Var2 - or similar).

+More:  Job Number Sequence - Using your own job numbers

Method 3:   Another recommended option is to give the master, and the variation jobs similar, but not identical job names.  An easy way to search for jobs quickly is by using the Global Search function. When searching by Job Name, any three consecutive letters, anywhere in the job name, typed into the search field, will result in a pick list of relevant jobs.

+More:  Global Search


Reporting on Multiple Jobs related to a common Overall Project

To report across an entire project, being managed under multiple job numbers,  use the report builder to create custom reports. When you filter the report, in the ‘criteria’ section use ‘contains’ the custom Project ID, the Job Name, or Job Number, to filter jobs, and thus report across the entire project .

+More:  Report Builder


Invoicing Multiple Jobs related to a common Overall Project

It is also possible to invoice out the multiple jobs relating to a single project all on the same invoice.

+More:  Invoice Multiple Jobs

+More:  Invoice Multiple Jobs (Video) 

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Andrew Solley
Andrew Solley is the Marketing Coordinator for WorkflowMax. Having worked as an Account Manager for WorkflowMax previously, he has a good understanding of the product and our customers. Growing up with several family members running their own project based businesses, it was only natural for Andrew to be involved in Project Management.

Andrew Solley