Updated: Aug 24, 2020
To avoid Delay Claims, there are two main strategies, make sure you get these written down!
1. Avoid Delays
2. Avoid Claims.
As simple as this sounds, you want to use both in avoiding delay claims, and just focusing on one or the other is not enough, as we hope you'll see shortly.
Let's start with how you might avoid delays altogether:
How to Avoid Delays
You can often trace out-of-control construction project costs back to one thing: an inability to finish on time.
If you want to avoid delay claims, it makes sense to try and avoid delays altogether! This may be a means of greatly increasing productivity on its own!
Here are six ways to help you understand how to keep projects on track and maximize profits:
Minimize Construction Blockers
There are two types of problems that prevent projects from finishing on time: delays and blockers; project managers need to know how to identify and address each type.
A construction delay happens when things don’t go according to plan, and since construction is often sequential, that’s not uncommon.
For example, you were planning to pour concrete in a specific two-day window, but it ends up raining. Now the project must be pushed back two days and contractors must reschedule.
Delays may also happen when a subcontractor doesn’t show up on time, when work takes longer than expected, or when material shipments are delayed.
Blockers are different from delays in that a blocker is a task whose completion is necessary before other tasks can be undertaken. For example, you may have scheduled a mason to lay the bricks for your building, but you can’t lay bricks unless the foundation has been poured.
Careful planning is a must if you want to avoid delays, and you must identify blockers well in advance of the project to keep them from being an obstacle.
Improve your management methods
Incompetent management is another major reason for project failure. Managers are responsible for creating a project plan that includes all the required elements and delivering the completed project by the deadline.
A construction manager is there to assign roles and responsibilities within a project and to coordinate labor and materials to the job site so that work is done in a timely manner.
A good construction manager must juggle several aspects of a detailed project plan whilst working to minimize delays and aggressively remove blockers that could hold up progress.
Time, money, and resources are wasted when projects are poorly managed, meaning that workers may have to wait around for tools, work crews may not be onsite at the appropriate time or supplies and equipment stored in a way that they need be moved multiple times.
How can you improve your own management effectiveness?
Be or hire a very good project management team.
Plan, plan, plan
When it comes to keeping your project on time, you need to have a detailed project plan to work from.
A good project plan that may be easily updated as the project moves forward, offering a bird’s eye view of the project.
This may help managers quickly diagnose potential challenges and solve problems before they become costly delays.
Many contractors start projects without a clear timeline, finalized drawings, or communication with subcontractors.
Your project plan should be exhaustive—it should include every detail required to complete the project while accounting for the variables in the execution process that could create delays.
A successful plan also contains contingencies for unforeseen circumstances, creating clear guidelines on how your firm should respond to delays.
You may use software services like Primavera P6 or a number of other popular construction project management software options to streamline your project planning.
All of this should be available in a good project management software:
a clearly defined timeline,
tasks set out with individual timelines and assigned to specific people,
real-time updates available for the project manager,
a simple, visual interface for keeping track of how things are progressing.
In addition to this, you want to review and analyze this plan (and the resulting schedule) for any mistakes or errors that may have gone unnoticed. This is not just for the beginning either, this is an ongoing process through the life of the project.
Do you know the types of issues that might be hidden in a schedule that only a trained consultant or software might be able to sniff out?
Don't wait for a delay to figure it out!
If you can hire a scheduling consultant then this is great, however, there are many technologies now on the market that work in cohesion with Project Planning tools to protect you and your projects.
For example, Claim Cracker and Schedule Cracker Technologies for analyzing you or your contractors’ schedules! (More on these below!)
Assign clear roles and responsibilities
Commercial construction projects have many employees, contractors, subcontractors, managers, and other personnel.
Failure to assign exact responsibilities to each party may result in critical tasks being ignored and cause significant project delays.
We must hold people accountable by establishing roles and responsibilities that are clear to everyone involved.
Establishing accountability is an essential part of an effective project plan and timeline.
Remember to focus not just on what needs to be done, but who is responsible and by when.
Get buy-in from everyone before beginning to help secure adherence to the project plan.
You may do this by getting all the key players in a room in advance of the project to talk through the idea.
Encourage feedback — if team members don’t feel like they have input, don't be surprised if they don’t buy into the project!
Schedule contractors far in advance
Architects, designers, and contractors may have long wait times on their schedule just for setting up their first meeting!
To avoid delays, determine what contractors you might need far ahead of time and start obtaining quotes as soon as possible to avoid delays related to not getting contractors quick enough.
It could take up to a month just to get on a designer or architect’s schedule, so you should be setting up appointments at least that early.
Then there’s the month or so you’ll need to order products, and perhaps a couple of months for planning and bidding. That means you’ll need at least three months lead time, and preferably more, to start organizing your contractors.
Establish clear communication between parties
Little problems can turn into big delays because of poor communication between parties.
When an unforeseen challenge materializes on the job site, it is crucial that contractors have a direct line to the project management team and that stakeholders are easily reachable for consultation. You must quickly diagnose, assess, and communicate the problem to all key stakeholders, and to get everyone together to find a resolution as quickly as possible.
Like getting the budget figured out early, communicating early and often is just as important as sticking to a deadline.
People involved with the project should know when certain building activities are occurring and the timeline for their completion.
Today, construction project management software makes it easier to deliver real-time updates from the job site to key stakeholders.
This practice helps bring everyone onto the same page right away and produces the fastest resolutions in the form of directives for continuing work.
So a contractor has come to you with a schedule for review. What do you do?
There's more to schedule analysis than you might think, and an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure rings especially true here.
It seems strange to put so much emphasis on planning at the start of a project, only to just sign off blindly (or with very little checking) the schedules that are giving to us by others.
Any experienced scheduling consultant will likely be well aware of the plethora of issues that may be buried in one of these schedule submittals and whereas in the past it might have required hiring a consultant to pour through it and find the issues, plugin and play software has been developed today to do that job for you at a fraction of the price.
There's more on this in the avoid claims section below, but there really is no excuse today for not running an advanced check of schedules to see where you might be leaving yourself open to delays!
How to Avoid (Delay) Claims?
So let's say you've taken action on all the above and you've done everything you can to help you avoid delays.
Don't be surprised if they still occur!
We are only human, so we need to have plans in place for when they do occur, and how we might minimize delay claims or avoid them altogether!
Proper Schedule Reviewing!
It's the third time we're mentioning it, so we hope it is sinking in!
You need to review contractor schedules.
How can we spend time trying to become more effective, more efficient, and avoid delays on our end - only to blindly sign off on someone else's schedule which might be littered with issues!
Not only might you avoid delays by returning this schedule to the contractor to sort out, but with a good consultant or software, they will give actual recommendations to the contractor to help them out.
Don't think this is too heavy on them, you are helping them do their job more effectively - they might not be master schedulers!
Now as regards delay claims this is very valuable also. You want to make sure that you are detecting and informing the other party of issues (intentional ones or otherwise) - and that you have this all in writing.
Now, you have created a paperwork shield for your avoiding these claims.
We hope that contractors (and we hope you only hire good ones) will not be silly enough to try any "stretched" (i.e. false) delay claims against you when you have all this paperwork showing the reality of the claim!
And if there is a legitimate claim, you want this documentation to avoid paying any more than you need to.
Nowadays, you want to use at the very least a simple plugin and print software for your schedule reviews to keep you at maximum efficiency and avoiding delay claims - to see the best AI software - just Click Here.
That said, if you can afford to hire a good schedule consultant, do that as well!
How To Avoid Construction Delay Claims?
Avoiding Delay Claims delays requires planning, reviewing, and good attention to detail.
Learn and do what you need to, automate whatever you can and outsource whatever you can't!
Thanks a lot for reading and take care,
The Project Cracker Team