Avoid Construction Delays with These Project Management Best Practices
Delays are some of the most frustrating issues in a construction project. Not only do delays cause your company to incur more costs, but they also affect your reputation by giving a perception that you can’t deliver projects on time. Worse, you can be on the receiving end of contractual penalties if the delay caused your client to lose money.
Avoiding delays is one of the most important aspects of construction project management. It starts by identifying the most common causes of delays and working on mitigating them.
There are several reasons that cause projects to fall behind schedule. There will be circumstances out of your control, like unfavorable weather. However, some causes stem from organizational issues such as miscommunication, an unclear scope of work, problems with subcontractors, and unexpected changes from the initial agreement.
Here are some of the best practices in construction project management to adopt to avoid delays.
Create a detailed schedule from the get-go.
A lot of construction projects fall behind schedule because the planning phase did not establish a detailed, realistic, and achievable schedule.
When an unrealistic schedule is imposed, usually by the client, there will be a lot of pressure on the project managers to meet it. The pressure to meet unrealistic deadlines will force the construction team to take shortcuts, resulting in defects, which then cause further delays and expenses on finding and fixing them.
Ideally, pre-construction activities such as land acquisition, securing environmental permits, and working on design should be finished before the development of a detailed schedule. The plan should be exhaustive and includes every detail required to complete each aspect. It needs to specify the time it takes to complete each phase while providing allowances for weather, time constraints, and other variables that may cause a delay. Project management software like Workep can help you organize tasks and visualize the workflow for a successful project.
Define the scope of the project as early as possible.
Placing a bid without knowing what is expected of your team can result in a huge liability. Signing a contract with a broad, open-ended scope will make your responsibilities open to broad interpretation and you will end up being responsible for work that is outside the original plan. When the scope of the work is not clearly defined, your team may underestimate how much time the project will take, causing project delays and even payment issues.
To create a well-defined scope of work, you need to have a clear definition of terms that makes sense for everyone involved. In addition, the scope should have objectives and deliverables described in detail. These make it easier to determine if the scope of the project is changing.
Finally, make sure all stakeholders sign off before the scope of work is finalized. This makes sure everyone agrees with the scope, and if they want changes, it can be agreed upon before work is done. Most importantly, getting their signatures will protect you in case disputes arise in the future.
Establish clear communication between all parties.
Miscommunication between parties causes small problems to turn into big issues and results in project delays. To prevent this from happening, you need to have a clear and effective communication system between all parties of the project.
Establishing a chain of command for communication will minimize delays due to miscommunication. In general, the owner and the general contractor communicate through the architect. The architect communicates information to consultants while the general contractor communicates with subcontractors and suppliers.
Choose the right method of communication that suits the situation. For quick catch-ups, an email message will suffice. If you need to bounce ideas back and forth, a phone call or a face-to-face meeting will be better. Send a written summary of what was talked about in a meeting so all parties can have handy reference material in the future.
Delays are sometimes inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you cannot reduce the potential impact that they cause. Following these best practices in construction project management will allow you to finish your project on schedule.
This was a guest post written by Patrick Hogan.
About the Author:
Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers secure their lien rights and get paid faster by automating the collection process for unpaid construction invoices.