Why So Many Construction Projects Fail to Meet Deadlines?

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Construction is a serious and a complex job. Nobody will dispute you on that. However, even with that fact in mind, it’s not easy to understand why so many projects fail to meet the agreed construction deadline.

Two years ago, KPMG released their global survey titled “Climbing the Curve” which revealed a shocking fact that 75% of construction projects fail to be completed close or within the original agreed construction deadline.

Is This Fact Really That Troubling?

Every company is subjected to deadlines, however, the complexity of the construction industry means that projected deadlines can be seen not only as flexible, but that they can be subjected to problems that don’t usually trouble companies in other business branches.

According to the LPMG report we mentioned earlier, more than 50% of construction project managers worldwide – and more than 60% of managers in the United States – experience at least one under-performing project per year.

Due to so many under performing projects, according to research by Nerija Banaitiene and Audrius Banaitis,construction plans have to flexible enough to take into account various unexpected difficulties that will certainly occur during the duration of the project. On the other hand, they need to offer a reasonable time frame, which means they cannot be too flexible.

The Paperwork Problem

And then, we have the problem of paperwork. Just take a look at the most basic construction projects, and you’ll see that involves a wide variety of different contractors, subcontractors and suppliers. This complexity makes even the rudimentary elements like contracts difficult to manage properly.

Since the communication is not always clear between all of the stakeholder, disputes quickly arise and slow reconciliations can quickly escalate into huge disputes. And while a simple construction bond helps a lot, arguments often arise even during the pre-planning stage.

These projects require endless processing of paperwork, including the overly-complicated are of applications of payment. Tons of paperwork often slow the project down and arguments break out over things like time on sire, materials, delivery and many, many more.

Recently, the management consulting company, Arcadis conducted a survey that revealed that bad contract administration is the most common cause of disputes in the industry. So in order to avoid any possible disputes, construction managers need to try to streamline as much administration as possible.

On-Site Problems

And if a construction manager finds a way to handle all of the paperwork and streamline administration, that doesn’t mean that there will not be any problems on site. On the contrary, most construction companies nowadays struggle to find qualified workers.

Moreover, you have to factor in the weather – no one has any control of weather whatsoever, and yet, it always has a huge impact on construction deadlines. And as this Met Office articles notes, while weather planning is a necessary part of any construction project, most companies seemingly do not put so much effort into it, which causes major downtimes on building sites.

One potential overlooked aspect of on-site jobs is OSHA compliance. OSHA reserves the right to show up and perform an inspection at any given time during a job. Luckily, there’s multiple resources available to ensure a site is OSHA compliant. One of those resources, is an interactive e-book that helps you prepare for OSHA Inspections.

We’ve already established that construction is unlike any industry out there in many ways, so if you want to deliver a project on time, you definitely need to work on your communication skills and plan every step of the way carefully.

Final Thoughts

While there’s no way to predict the weather conditions perfectly, the best way to approach the often-occurring delays is to be proactive as possible. As we mentioned before, most of the problems that affect construction projects are rooted in lack of communication, even at the earliest stages of the project.

Furthermore, during the duration of the project, all of the sides will have tons of question and in order to avoid any disputes down the line, project managers need to address them properly. According to Mary Brittain-White, the founder of Retriever Communications Pty Ltd. here are a couple of things you could do to avoid any project disputes:

  • Start discussing the schedule before you even sign the contract, do a couple of site inspections and try to understand the scope of work
  • Make sure to document everything from the moment you do the first jobsite walk, because this will help you solve any arguments down the line
  • Ensure that you’re communication clearly with every side, and if the information you’re receiving isn’t clear enough, make sure to request clarifications.
  • Be sure to study and subsequently use the contract terms and conditions, because you may waive some valuable contractual right by not addressing issues in a timely manner

And even though every stage of the project has its own set of rules, those are a couple of simple things that project managers can do to make their lives a whole lot easier. And the managers who tackle these issues early on are the ones who finish their projects on budget and on time and whose projects into that 25% category.