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How to Avoid Construction Delays

Having the ability to mitigate the impact of delays is a valuable skill set for any PM or owner, but developing the systems and skills to get ahead of the problems and prevent delays from occurring in the first place, is priceless.


In my last post, we talked about how to mitigate the impact of delays that have already occurred in construction. In case you missed it, check it out here!


A quick refresher on some examples of the types of delays in construction is included below for reference:


Common Causes for Delays:

  • Bad weather

  • Soil contamination

  • Equipment malfunction

  • Labour shortages

  • Construction mistakes

  • Missing or incorrect data

  • Funding delays

  • Budget Inaccuracies

  • Poor Scheduling

  • Discovery of Hazardous Material

  • Poor Communication of Critical Information


As mentioned before, construction schedule delays are one of the most costly and dreadful problems faced by stakeholders. Although some delays are inevitable, they are typically caused by incidents that were preventable if the proper systems and methods had been followed from the beginning.


Below, you’ll find some of the steps you can take to avoid delays altogether, and how you can use tools such as OnTraccr to help automate some of the tedious workflows that are required to maintain a healthy and reliable communication pipeline for the project.


1. Be realistic with your goals and milestones


Typically in construction we are always looking to serve our clients. Whether you’re a General Contractor, Sub-Contractor, or Supplier, you all have clients that you want to please and retain. Therefore it is extremely important to set realistic goals with your clients, ensuring they are based on the plan/bid that you have submitted. This way you can ensure they are never caught off guard and dissatisfied as a result of your broken promises.

If you ever find yourself doubting your estimate for deliverability, referring to similar previous projects as a guide can be an extremely useful way to back check your current estimates. Ultimately, this allows you to come up with more accurate and realistic targets for both quotes and timelines.

For more useful tips on building successful estimates, check out our article here.


2. Participate in pre-construction meetings with all stakeholders


When it comes to planning a project’s schedule, it is essential to involve all the stakeholders to ensure everyone has eyes on the schedule. They then can quickly raise any concerns they may have with the sequencing and help make any adjustments as required.

These pre-construction discussions will help create the foundation of your own detailed construction plan. Some of the qualities of a great plan include even the smallest details, such as the time required to obtain and procure all materials, the stakeholder meeting schedule, major equipment delivery dates, milestone dates for any blockers, as well as every other dependency you can think of. The use of a construction project management software can make creating these plans and schedules a lot easier, and still provide the user with a de-cluttered plan that is easy to follow.

3. Review the scope of work and define team roles


In construction, understanding the scope of work is essential in turning over a profitable project and avoiding any delays due to scope gaps. The scope may change over the course of a project through change orders and other formal change processes, therefore it is important to keep a living document of the scope of work that is accessible to all team members. This way you can ensure everyone is aware of what is included in your contract, and what should be charged as an extra.

Upon reviewing the scope with all team members, the next step would be to assign roles to all team members, and go over in detail what each member will be responsible for. Once again, roles can change during the duration of a project, so a RACI matrix is a very helpful tool to share amongst new team members so that they can quickly reference who is responsible for what.

If you would like to learn more about what a RACI matrix is and receive a free template, please reach out to us at info@ontraccr.com.

4. Be transparent and keep a digital ‘paper trail' of all activities


Transparency in construction is very underrated. Ideally, everyone should be transparent in declaring their progress and all stakeholders can then have real-time insights into where the progress is on a project at any given time.

Fortunately with today’s technology, this is all completely possible. By using construction specific software such as OnTraccr, everyone can easily report progress on tasks and cost codes, allowing PM’s to use this data to auto-generate progress draws or invoices. All of this data can be viewed in real-time, and workflows can be automated so that there is minimal overhead required to maintain the information pipelines. This is the easiest way you can review all project activities and then use that information to foresee whether a delay will occur.

All of this work or proof of progress should always be saved and logged in the event conflicts arise at the end of the project, such as a warranty claim. This way you have all the backup necessary to mitigate or squash any wrongful claims. This may seem like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be...This can all happen automatically with the use of a good construction management automation software.

Read more about the benefits of deploying a modern field management solution here.

5. Place high value on experience


It pays to hire experience, and having experience pays. In order to detect and prevent delays from occurring before they happen, it typically takes an experienced and well-trained eye to identify those threats. Therefore it is essential to have experienced eyes on the project as much as possible. Developing a system and chain of communication where experienced people are always overlooking or reviewing critical path items, will help to ensure that nothing is missed that can lead to a delay.

If it’s not possible to have experience at every position, the key areas to focus on would be project planning and monitoring roles.


6. Automate your communications as much as possible


Construction projects typically have a lot of moving parts.This results in a surplus of documents and critical information that needs to be exchanged, most of which is time-sensitive. This is a greatly daunting task for most PM’s and they often require the assistance from a Project Coordinator for larger projects, due to the increased overhead required to manage all this information.

In Canada, the average salary of a Project Coordinator is about $70k per year but still most large construction contractors find it to be worth their money to help maintain this communication pipeline, and they are right! Having the ability to communicate anything in an efficient manner with project team members, both internal and external, will greatly mitigate the delays that often occur in construction. Internal communications of the latest documents, plans, change orders, scope changes, RFI’s, should not only be tracked in great detail, but should be easily accessible to all stakeholders. Getting this wrong can lead to costly consequences. An example would be the event that workers happen to be working off an old set of plans because someone failed to update the plans in their folder.

This is why there should be great importance placed on building and maintaining a clear and accessible communication pipeline for a project. With innovative solutions out there like OnTraccr, you can make this communication process more efficient by automating a lot of the workflows that are required to maintain all of your critical data. It pays to have a one-stop-shop for all your construction project documents and communications. There’s no more need to be switching to different applications just so you can send a message or send a project document.


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