Research shows that a poorly defined scope is among the top reasons for construction delays. Other causes include a lack of resources, poor communication, inadequate planning, and the absence of a structured change management process.
But then again, construction schedule changes and delays are inevitable in most cases. Construction managers and contractors should know how to deal with such situations in the most effective manner.
Scheduling software for contractors is a great tool to help manage and monitor the progress of projects. It provides a visual timeline, which allows the tracking of delays, dependencies, resources, and tasks. You can visit this page to learn more about construction software.
Below, we look at the importance of these tools and other practices for managing construction delays.
Reasons for construction delays and schedule changes
There are many reasons for schedule changes and construction delays. Here are some common ones:
- Budget inaccuracies – When the budget is not planned correctly, it can cause delays. It can happen when the cost of materials or labor rates are underestimated or when there’s a lack of funding.
- Inadequate resources – Limited resources such as materials, equipment, and labor can cause delays. For example, if there aren’t enough workers to complete the project on time, it can delay progress.
- Unforeseen circumstances – Weather conditions, political instability, or a global pandemic like COVID-19 can all cause delays. These unforeseen circumstances are difficult to plan for and can significantly affect construction timelines.
- Poor communication – A mismanaged chain of command or a lack of communication can lead to delays. For instance, teams may not be aware of changes or progress updates, disrupting the project timeline.
5 best practices to manage construction delays and schedule changes
Whether you’re a project manager or a contractor, you should know how to manage construction delays. Here are five good practices to counter this problem.
1. Minimize construction blockers and delays
There are two types of construction issues that lead to delays; blockers and delays. A blocker is an issue that has to be resolved before work can proceed, such as a missing permit or waiting for materials to arrive. Essentially, it is any task that must be completed before any other task can be done. For instance, a contractor may need to wait for a permit before they can begin the project.
Meanwhile, a delay happens when work takes longer than expected, such as when workers are slow in completing tasks or bad weather interrupts the construction process.
Minimize blockers and delays by preparing a detailed action plan. Make sure that all the necessary materials, permits, and resources are available before beginning the project. Have contingencies for when unprecedented events arise.
2. Follow best management practices
If a construction manager does not fulfill their duties, the project can suffer from delays. The Modular Building Institute emphasizes the importance of proper project management, as time, resources, and money are wasted on poorly managed projects.
Here are some best management practices to follow:
- Establish clear communication with a break-free chain of command.
- Plan for shortcomings and setbacks.
- Monitor the progress and timeline of the project.
- Be flexible to services from outside sources.
- Keep a detailed record of progress and costs.
3. Set reasonable deadlines
Being overly optimistic with deadlines often leads to ‘delays,’ although it was already not possible to meet them. If your deadlines are too tight, there’s a high risk of scope creep.
Construction managers should take the following steps to ensure their deadlines are manageable and realistic:
- Use the WBS system –The WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) is a system of organizing the project into manageable tasks and subtasks. It identifies who is responsible for each task and when it should be completed.
- Set milestones – Milestones are significant events that confirm the project is progressing well and on time. Set reasonable milestones to monitor progress.
- Identify risk factors –Spot the potential risks in advance and develop contingency plans for when they occur.
- Adjust deadlines– If there has already been a delay in one of your project activities, adjust the deadlines accordingly.
- Include a float – The float is the extra time allotted for any changes or delays in the schedule. You should always have a float when setting deadlines to account for any unexpected changes or issues.
4. Follow the right protocols
It’s important to follow the right protocols for managing construction delays. Make sure your contractors know the protocol for delays and how to report them.
For example, in the case of unforeseen weather events (such as a snowstorm), all contractors should know what to do. Should they carry on with the project, or should they wait out the snow? When is it safe to go back and resume work?
5. Communicate schedule changes to all stakeholders
Whenever there is a delay or disruption in the construction process, it is essential to keep all stakeholders informed. Communicate the changes in schedule and discuss potential solutions.
Suppose there’s a delay in the process due to a missing permit. Let the project manager, contractor, and subcontractor know. If you’re waiting on materials, communicate this to the supplier.
Tips for implementing construction delay management practices
Simply knowing best practices is not enough. You also have to implement these practices. Plus, you should have a system that ensures proper implementation of these practices throughout the project pipeline. Here’s how to make this happen:
- Communicate these practices to contractors, subcontractors, and everyone else working on the project.
- Revise the construction schedule on a regular basis and keep track of tasks that are behind the scheduled timeline.
- Maintain open communication between parties involved in the project.
- Design a procurement project management plan to determine the availability of materials and resources.
- Develop risk management plans to prevent or mitigate any potential risks.
- Conduct regular meetings with the project team to discuss construction schedules and timelines.
Managing construction delays and schedule changes can be hectic, especially if there are too many blockers or delays in the process. But the tips and practices mentioned in this guide can be very helpful in ensuring that the project is running smoothly and meeting its deadlines.