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Job Order Contracting Best Practices: Project Selection

Have you ever tried to put a nail in a wall with a screwdriver handle or the butt of a drill? You can do it, but it would be a lot easier if you had a hammer handy. Construction project delivery methods work like that: Any delivery method may work for your project, but using the right one will make the process a lot easier.

Each method out there was developed for specific types of work. And while we’re partial to Job Order Contracting (JOC) because of its time and administrative cost savings, we recognize that it is a stronger choice for certain kinds of projects. To help you decide whether to access Job Order Contracting for your next construction project, we put together a list of the types of projects JOC is known to help owners complete. After all, we’d hate for you to use a drill as a hammer.

The Gist

  • Different construction procurement methods have ideal use cases.
  • Job Order Contracting is ideal for various small- to medium-sized construction, maintenance and repair projects.
  • Gordian JOC can help procurement teams shorten the time to construction and help facilities teams complete quality work.

Small- or Medium-Sized Projects. Projects that can be scoped, priced and completed quickly are ideal for Job Order Contracting because, with a JOC project, construction work is delivered through a selection of Tasks from a Unit Price Book that lives for the entirety of a Job Order Contract. Rather than drawing up detailed plans and specs for each individual project, owners select the necessary Tasks for completing construction work out of their Unit Price Book. At Gordian, we call our Unit Price Book the Construction Task Catalog®, or CTC for short. We develop the CTC using customized, local pricing so owners pay, and contractors receive, a fair price for construction work.

For a prime example of a quintessential JOC project, read this story about how city planner in Portland, Oregon used a Gordian Job Order Contracting program to build an observation platform at a nature preserve.

Advance Work for Large Projects. While JOC isn’t the best delivery method for a large-scale project, it can still assist in the process. JOC project owners can use the contract to perform preliminary work such as demolition, hazardous material abatement and site work in conjunction with other project delivery methods designed for large scale projects.

Time-Sensitive Projects and Emergency Work. For tight deadlines, JOC contractors are already awarded and ready to respond immediately to minimize downtime. For example, George Washington University used a Gordian Job Order Contracting program to rejuvenate nine floors of a dormitory in just 45 days. The same speed to construction applies during a crisis. When wildfires spread through Monterey County, California in August of 2020, county leaders deployed their Gordian Job Order Contracting program for emergency construction and recovery work.

Punch List Work on Traditionally Bid Projects. JOC is a great tool for completing the outstanding portions of work for a traditionally-bid project.

Get detailed advice about running a successful Job Order Contracting program, from program setup to JOC project selection through measuring success, on our interactive Job Order Contracting Best Practices page.

Backlogged Projects. JOC contractors can supplement your in-house staff by completing backlogged projects or teaming with in-house staff and performing a portion of the work. Konawaena High School in Hawaii used Job Order Contracting from Gordian to take on a project that had been backlogged for eight years. Once started, the awarded contractor finished the work in just 36 days.

Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO). JOC contracts can be put in place to specifically address MRO work – quickly eliminating a backlog of pending work and keeping up with current systems maintenance and operational requests.

Grant Projects. Job Order Contracting can help you complete work with a fixed budget, including grants and relief packages like the American Rescue Plan. With traditional bidding, if the prices exceed the available budget, the project must be redesigned and rebid. On the other hand, JOC allows contractors to prepare a Price Proposal to maximize the work for an allotted budget.

You can even use JOC to ensure you keep grant funding, just as the Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) did. The organization was struggling, only completing 10 to 15 repairs and renovations every year. When LACDA implemented a Gordian JOC program in 2011, they increased their throughput to 60 projects a year, a 400% increase. The explosion of construction work has improved the quality of life for LACDA residents and helped the agency grow its grant funding.


Replacement-In-Kind Projects. These projects generally require little design work and can be scoped and priced quickly. Using JOC saves you the time and cost of preparing full plans and specifications and conducting a formal bid process. When the chiller went out at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, Gordian JOC was selected to replace it quickly. In just two weeks, a new chiller was installed, ensuring comfort for visitors and employees.

Planning for Limited Scheduling Windows. With JOC, projects can be scoped and priced well in advance of limited scheduling windows for completing the work. Tarrant County College (TCC) had only the summer to convert existing unoccupied retail space into learning and social environments for its students. The project had high stakes: Construction needed to be finished by the fall semester if TCC was going to earn accreditation. With the help of a Gordian JOC program, the school finished all the work and is now open to students.

Job Order Contracting  is the ideal vehicle for completing construction projects during the busy summer season. Download our free eBook to find tips for simplifying procurement and project execution so you can make the most of your summer.

End of the Year Funding. Owners sometimes scramble at the end of the fiscal year to commit available funds or risk losing the money. JOC projects can be scoped and priced quickly, allowing the owner to obligate the funds.

Projects Lacking a Clear Scope. An important part of the JOC process is the Joint Scope Meeting, where the owner and the contractor walk the job site. During this meeting, the contractor can help the owner define the Scope of Work and make recommendations for success.

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all construction project delivery method. Owners need all the tools in their procurement toolbox at different times to complete different work. Now you know when it is best to reach into your toolbox for Job Order Contracting.

About Gordian

Gordian is the leading provider of Building Intelligence™ Solutions, delivering unrivaled insights, robust technology and expert services to fuel customers’ success through all phases of the building lifecycle. Gordian created Job Order Contracting (JOC) and the industry-standard RSMeans Data. We empower organizations to optimize capital investments, improve project performance and minimize long-term operating expenses.

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