Data compiled from over 500,000 construction schedules (provided by contractors and clients) showed that 85.5% of the projects were completed late. And of those projects, 59.4% were late by more than two months. It goes without saying – construction delays are almost impossible to avoid.
Delays in construction projects can be caused by many factors, including environmental setbacks, scheduling complications with subcontractors and suppliers, and labor shortages. Plus, they can lead to increased costs for project owners, general contractors, subcontractors, and any stakeholders involved in the project.
Your firm needs to stay informed to properly manage delays (no matter what causes them). This article explores critical concepts for managing construction delays, from identifying potential causes and understanding their impacts to implementing strategies and mitigating delays.
Anticipating Potential Delays
The best way to deal with a project delay is to anticipate it before it happens. In other words, you have to be able to expect the unexpected… which is difficult. Delays are unexpected for a reason.
Some examples of unexpected occurrences that can cause delays include adverse weather conditions, project scheduling issues, or a shortage of the required construction materials.
Being able to anticipate and prepare for potential delays can improve your credibility with clients. This can also increase your chances of receiving future business because your past successes demonstrate that you can anticipate problems (and handle them before they occur).
To anticipate potential delays, your project managers should create a timeline that includes all the necessary steps for the project. This timeline should have a buffer for any possible delays that may occur.
Additionally, your project managers should communicate with all the stakeholders involved to ensure that everyone is aware of the timeline and any potential delays. Doing this increases the likelihood that you will complete the project on time.
Identifying the Causes of Delays
In some cases, the cause of a delay might be obvious to everyone involved in the project. For example, poor weather conditions or unforeseen natural disasters. In other cases, your team may have to thoroughly examine the project timeline, supply chain, and subcontractor contributions to determine the cause of the delay.
Without carefully evaluating each element, it can be difficult to identify why a delay has occurred and how you can prevent it in the future. It’s also important to consider the impact of the delay on the project.
Understanding the Impacts of Delays
Delays can lead to unexpected costs and cause financial difficulties for those involved. When they occur, contractors and subcontractors are typically unable to bill for additional time, leading to loss of revenue and the potential for a significant financial burden. To devise strategies for mitigating delays, you must understand the potential impact a delay might have on budgets and bottom lines.
In addition to the financial impacts of delays, they can also affect the morale of those involved in the project. Delays can lead to frustration and irritability, which can harm the project’s overall productivity. It is important to ensure that the team remains motivated and engaged.
Developing Strategies to Minimize the Risk of Delays
One of the best ways to minimize delays is to establish well-developed contingency plans at the project’s onset. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.
Contingency plans can provide an in-depth roadmap for dealing with unexpected delays and help project managers understand how they might influence the timeline. Additionally, thorough contingency plans can offer a detailed set of solutions that you can use to manage challenges related to funding, resourcing, scheduling, and economic conditions.
Create contingency plans tailored to specific projects or site locations so that your teams are equipped with solutions that match the complexities of their project.
Also, ensure your teams are adequately trained in using the contingency plans so they’re implemented correctly, and you address any delays promptly. Additionally, encourage your teams to regularly review and update the plans so they remain relevant and effective.
Creating a System to Monitor and Track Delays
Creating a system to monitor and track any changes in the timeline is essential for successful delay management. To avoid potential issues that might occur further down the line, your project managers should use approaches that allow them to anticipate delays early on.
Project managers should also check in with key team members regularly to ensure that potential delays are identified and addressed quickly so the project remains on track. Regular check-ins also allow team members to voice any concerns they might have and for project managers to provide guidance and support.
You can also invest in tools that make tracking delays and analyzing their impact easier. Advances in technology have enabled construction firms to reduce delays by allowing them to quickly assess timeline and budget requirements, track objectives, analyze project data, and measure progress.
Predictive analytics, cloud-based solutions, portable devices, online platforms, and virtual collaboration tools have become essential for managing construction projects and effectively managing any delays.
Establishing a Plan to Address Delays
Once a delay is identified or anticipated, your firm must also establish a plan of action to minimize the impact. This plan should identify clear objectives, roles and responsibilities, contingency plans, deadlines, and methods of communication. Additionally, all those involved with the project should be regularly updated throughout its duration to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Your project managers should develop an effective communication plan which clearly outlines how you’ll communicate the information between stakeholders. They should also establish protocols to keep teams informed on any project changes. This prevents misunderstandings and allows any issues or changes to be quickly resolved.
Dealing with construction project delays is an unavoidable part of the industry. Developing a comprehensive system for identifying potential issues early, understanding the impact of delays, and creating effective strategies for addressing them, will lead to successful projects (and satisfied customers).
Another unavoidable part of the construction industry is accounting. Effective bookkeeping and financial reporting are crucial if you want your business to succeed, but devoting a lot of time and resources to accounting takes… well, a lot of time and resources! It’s far easier to outsource your accounting to a third party with lots of construction industry experience.
New Lyfe Accounting offers personalized financial services exclusive to construction-industry clients. The foundation of our offerings is our construction CFO services, which provide you with a high-level strategic partnership that supports growth.Our supplementary solutions include project accounting, bookkeeping, and construction software support services. Contact us to learn more about how our services can help make 2023 and beyond a success for your construction business!