How Construction Project Managers Can Deal with Delays

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Construction project manager

Delay in construction means more than just re-planning and rescheduling. More than the hassles of having to go over the original plan and starting to lay out countermeasures, both the contractor and the client will suffer from great losses. All of these can be traced back to one cause – the inability to handle changes and slight delays.

No matter how perfect your construction schedule was planned, there’s always a possibility for the delay. It should be necessary that from the beginning; both the construction project manager and client should agree on allowable days of delay. This prevents frustration, losses, and misunderstanding between both parties as well as end-users, most
especially when the project is road construction or condominium.

During the planning stage, the construction project manager should point out to his client the possible reasons for the delay. From there, both can plan the adjustments as well as countermeasures appropriate for each cause.

Before we look at the steps of coping up with a construction project delay, let’s first define the common causes of it.

Common Causes of Construction Delays

Even with better technology utilized in the present construction scene, contractors still see project delays and losses due to this are never at par.We’re not saying that nothing improved between the 90s to the 21st century. Technology has certainly revolutionized the construction site, making procedures easier and faster than before. But there are incidents that even technology cannot prevent.

Let’s look at these culprits to know how we can resolve them.

1. Weather Disturbances

The number one reason for a possible delay is bad weather. For those on the west side of the world, the common weather conditions construction sites suffer from include freezing temperatures, rain, and snow. And if you’re unlucky, tornadoes too.
The weather can’t always be predicted during the beginning of the construction project. Even the most powerful weather instrument can only foretell accurate conditions 1 month ahead. The key is to estimate the length of time a certain project can be finished. From there, determine what seasons will be covered during the construction period and expect days when people can’t work.

2. Budget Constrictions

Another big factor that causes a delay is the lack of budget. Sometimes, this is caused by misquoting the project. There are also instances when the owner runs out of funds. When the flow of money stops, there is no other remedy but to stop the operation.
Accurate budgeting is the key to the continuous flow of materials, power costs, and wages, which are the main requirements for construction works.

3. Overbooking Projects

Some contractors are risk-takers, so they tend to take several projects at the same time. Taking so many jobs can, however, cause unmanageable tasks. Contractors tend to rush from project to project but sometimes, when one project encounters delays, the other projects are also affected.

4. Lack of Communication

We always point out the importance of communication in construction. Sudden changes in plans should be communicated at once, but when the communication channels are faulty, the announcement gets delayed and so is the project. Mistakes are bound to happen too because of miscommunication. And these mistakes can cause not just losses but also the repetition of some procedures, hence causing delays.

5. Poor Scheduling

All delays are mostly caused by poor planning. Project managers should be able to foresee inevitable problems as well as unexpected ones so he can set a Plan B and an alternative schedule. Quick decision making, when the unexpected happens is also helpful in minimizing the effects of the delay.

Best Ways to Deal with Construction Project Delays


Project managers are usually the first people to receive the blame from the client or the contractor. They should then be quick in coming up with countermeasures to stop further impediments and losses. Here are some tips construction project managers can look into to help them deal with the different causes of delays we already mentioned above.

1. Determine the cause of the delay.

Was it because of the weather or someone in your team? Or was it because of the client himself that the project can’t advance? Before coming up with any countermeasure, tracing the root cause of the delay should come first.

Clients can be the cause of the delay and like we said the budget is one of the problems that they may face and cause the project to slow down. Sometimes, it can be the contractor when he fails to approve plans, schedules, or invoices on time.

2. If a person is a cause, let him know.

Whether it’s the client, your superior, or your crew who’s causing the delay, let them know that their decisions or work are hindering the construction from moving forward. Share with them about your idea of how the whole project can cope up with the delay that already happened.

3. Quickly come up with a new plan.

Review the original plan as well as the roles assigned to each member and check which of the tasks you set should be accomplished the soonest. Set aside anything that isn’t that important and prioritizes any activity that can cause a further delay when pushed back.

4. Involve everyone in coming up with a plan to cope up with the delay.

Implementing Plan B and a new schedule should involve everyone in the team and the client too. You should then set a meeting to share your idea on how to cope up with the delay and get their inputs too on how to get back on schedule.

5. Be hands-on at least until the project catches up with the set schedule.

Coping up with the delay is the hardest part. Sometimes, workers tend to relax because the PM isn’t around. With the rise of construction project management software, the time spent by a PM at the site has been greatly lessened since he can already monitor the daily work progress via the software.

During delays, though, the PM should be hands-on in implementing new procedures to catch up with the schedule. This includes monitoring all crew members to see that they are adjusting well to the new plan. And when you observe any wrong or unnecessary activity that can lead to another delay, confront the people causing it.

6. Accelerate work and redefine critical path.

It’s now time to pressure workers and accelerate the task completion. Redefine your project’s critical path and make sure that everyone’s observing the new schedule. This way, you can catch up easily with the original schedule you set.

How to Avoid Construction Delays


Every construction project is unique and so is the nature of every delay. And like we said, delays are inevitable and even a well-planned project isn’t safe from it. But while there are ways to deal with the delay, there are also steps you can do to mitigate its effects even before they happen.

1. Set realistic goals.

Clients set their expectations based on the plan you submit to them. This is the reason why it’s important to first set realistic goals so your project plan and schedule will be more achievable. This way, you won’t disappoint your client.

If not sure, you can refer to previous projects with almost the same conditions, so your plan won’t be too far-fetched. Clients may be aggressive and demand for the project to finish faster than expected, but it’s important to let them know about the importance of a reasonable construction schedule.

2. Plan the project in complete detail.

Make your construction project plan as detailed as possible. A great project plan includes even the smallest detail like the time needed to write the whole plan and schedule, meetings with the clients, delivery of materials, and all other activities. The best construction project management software will allow you to detail all these without making the master plan look cluttered. This way, it’s easier to keep track of the activities.

Also, having a bird’s eye view of the project will help you to quickly diagnose imminent delays. Consequently, you can come up with solutions before the delay causes big losses.

3. Assign clear roles.

In a construction project, several roles should be defined. There are project managers and there are foremen, then there are supervisors, laborers, procurers, warehousemen, etc.

It’s important to define these roles and the responsibilities that come with each role. This way, everyone can understand their jobs better and prepare themselves for their roles even before the project starts.

4. Encourage transparency within your team.

Each member needs to be transparent in declaring their accomplishments. Teach everyone on how they can use your construction monitoring software and let them know what details they should include in their EODs. This way, you can review all activities and can foresee whether a delay will occur or not.

5. Hire experienced workers.

Expert foremen, assistant project managers, engineers, supervisors, and laborers will recognize causes of delay and will know how to address each type. This greatly helps a PM come up with a plan that’s not just reasonable but designed to accommodate a few days of delays.
When possible, hire experienced members of your crew or at least the key players in project planning and monitoring.

6. Establish clear communication within the team.

Being able to communicate anything with your team members will diminish the occurrences of misunderstanding. Communication is also crucial between colleagues to let the other know where they are now in their assignments and if they are reaching their goals and meeting their deadlines.

Therefore construction firms should employ reliable communication channels so everyone can discuss more clearly about plans, daily activities, and other details that help in preventing delays.

In this era, construction management software made communication more efficient by allowing users to discuss in a safer space where sensitive data can be shared. This is where progress reports, plans, and schedules are compiled in one place so that everyone involves can access them faster and easier. There’s no more need to be switching to different accounts just so you can send a message or send a relevant file.

7. Improve your management methods.

The project manager is responsible for seeing to it that the project is going as planned and scheduled. His incompetence is another major reason for the delays and the failure of the project.

It is then important that he can monitor the whole team efficiently. But when the construction project has a wide scope, it can be difficult for the PM to monitor every single activity. Making rounds alone can be time-consuming and energy-draining so how much more difficult would it be for a single PM to manage hundreds of employees every day.

Thanks to construction management software like Pro Crew, PMs can now manage all his members more efficiently without missing anything that can later become the cause of delay.

Final Thoughts

Delay in the schedule is one of the most dreaded problems of project managers, contractors, and the client. But it is in the way that the PM reacts to the delay that can truly make or break the success of the project. With the proper mindset for handling problems in the construction site, PMs can easily deal with any kind of delay.

Manage your project more efficiently with the help of the best construction project management software like Pro Crew. This innovation in the construction site can help not just the PM but all members determine factors that can cause the delay and take action even before they happen.

Avoid frustrating your client by employing Pro Crew in your project. Get your free trial today and stop delays from happening.

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