Construction project delays can have a significant impact on the cost of an overall project.

More time means less satisfied clients, lost opportunities to engage with other projects and other clients, and a greater cash figure paid on wages and potential time penalties.

Furthermore, one delay can have a snowball effect, causing a chain of delays that significantly impacts when any given stage of the project is reached, and sets back the project’s completion date by weeks, months, or even years.

Therefore, project managers have every incentive to achieve a more efficient and effective workflow by minimising delays. Below, we have outlined some potential causes of delays, and what to do about them.

1. Subcontractor schedules

Any project manager wishes that subcontractors and their services were endlessly scalable, but the truth is, subcontractors can only grow so fast, and cannot generate new teams overnight to service their competing projects that they may have on at the same time.

This does not prevent many subcontractors from ‘biting off more than they can chew’ and putting the project manager in a position where he or she must accept a delay or look for an alternative if contractually possible. Carefully managing the tender process through construction software may help to limit the impact on subcontractor schedules.

2. Budget inaccuracies

If the budget is not correctly assessed before the outset of the project and throughout the duration of the project, there is a risk that the inability to meet expenses, or a desire to keep the project on cost, will result in delays to your construction project.

Cashflow is a critical component of any successful construction project, and if the cashflow is not mastered, the risk will always be that budget inaccuracies will derail or delay the project. Hence it is essential to use a high-quality quantity surveyor and to accurately forecast all costs.

3. Supply issues

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined many of the supply issues that can impact projects, at any point in time and not just during the pandemic. We have seen supply issues, for example with wood, that have delayed many a project.

While the supply of goods for construction cannot be controlled, it can be anticipated with greater or lesser accuracy. A delay is not a delay that catches you off guard if you are able to anticipate it from the outset using sophisticated cloud-based technology for this purpose.

4. Labour shortages

Sometimes there are simply not enough people available to carry out the work that needs to be carried out, according to the schedule or due date that has been established for a particular aspect or phase of the project. This is a common occurrence for project managers around the country, and one which has had an adverse effect on the timeline of many a project.

A workforce cannot be created from scratch, and while there are solutions to be pursued during the human resources and tender process, there is also scope to reduce the impact of labour shortages by using your workforce efficiently, by examining and properly understanding how time is used and where efficiency is lost, using optioneering, artificial intelligence and other programs supporting construction workflows.

Additionally, certain tasks may be automated with the use of construction software provided by a construction workflow software supplier. You may also be able to reduce the need for staff to travel between sites thanks to virtual diaries and recordkeeping that can communicate information across geographical space and save the significant expenditure of time and money.

5. Approval processes

Many project managers will have experienced the delays that can result while you are waiting for approval from a particular individual or party, quite often the client but also higher management. These delays can set back the end date of the project. Examining the approvals process and how it may impact timeframes and using scheduling software to visualise this impact and look for opportunities for efficiency, is one approach to limiting the impact of this factor.

What to do about project delays

These are just a few examples of what may cause construction delays. Communication breakdown, weather impacts, project complexities and interdependencies, and scheduling errors may all also be responsible for project delays.

Project delays are not as ‘inevitable’ as many people assume. You can take several actions to reduce the risk of delays, and many of these centre around utilising modern construction software to enhance your workflows.

Here at Contract and Commercial Resources Tech (CCR Tech) we offer a wide range of technical resources and digital solutions to supercharge your organisation’s efficiency. We can provide BIM optimisation, Artificial Intelligence (AI) Planning and Scheduling Construction, Autodesk, Alice Technologies, Cupix, digital twin systems, and other systems.

For more information, please browse our website or contact our team. We look forward to supporting your construction company to minimise delays and reduce the impact of delays that do occur.