Construction Project Behind Schedule? 4 Steps to Take 

January 15, 2024

When a construction project is behind schedule, contractors need to determine the right steps for successfully completing the project and what additional resources are required. There are four key steps your team can take to manage a construction schedule delay and help your new plan progress smoothly.  

Step 1: Determine the Plan 

Before you can assess the current status of your project, you must understand what you’re comparing it to. Reviewing your project documentation is a critical first step. Schedule documents are created early in the planning stages of the project. These documents should describe: 

  • Expected plan and timeline 
  • Completion milestones 
  • General sequence of work 

With this information, you can evaluate the actual steps your team has taken and where they differ from the original plan. The biggest goal of this comparison is to determine how major the changes are and the impact of these changes. 

Questions you should ask yourself in this comparison are: 

  • What extra costs will we incur? 
  • How much time will we need to add to the project? 
  • Can we benefit from extra staffing? 
  • Do we need additional materials? 

A review of your project documentation may reveal that the delay is not accepted fact, meaning there are remediation efforts you can take to get the project back on schedule. In other cases, you may discover that the delay is a reasonable reflection of the impact, and you will need to take additional steps to mitigate the delay or submit for a time extension.  

Step 2: Create a New Baseline Schedule 

Your assessment of early project documents gives you the information you need to make informed schedule changes and create a forecasted completion date based on these changes. In this step, you should decide which measures will optimize your new schedule, such as adding resources to the project. 

To create this new baseline schedule, you need to determine the remaining tasks for your project, the sequence of these tasks, and the duration of each. It’s essential to be granular in this process to give everyone a clear understanding of the next steps. 

This scheduling process should also involve risk identification and analysis to ensure your team plans capital and resource allocations effectively. Your new schedule will be a guideline for the rest of your project, but there will always be variables that impact task completion. The more prepared you are for these variables, the more readily your team can respond and keep up with schedule requirements. Determine if any projected risks can be mitigated before they occur to reduce your risk level as you finish the project. 

Since your schedule is always subject to change, you can use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure schedule performance. Creating KPIs for your schedule allows you to determine when activities align with the planned execution of the project, even as the schedule shifts. 

Step 3: Evaluate Past Performance 

Previous performance data is a valuable resource as it reveals what has caused project delays in the past. Evaluating these past delays can highlight what type of risks your team is likely to face as you move forward with your current project. Past performance can help your team understand where you incurred additional costs and what resources you need to increase to respond to the delay.  

Analyzing past delays plays a significant role in a proactive strategy. With processes like delay analysis, your team can learn about the factors that lead to schedule delays. With these factors, you can develop risk mitigation strategies for the remainder of your project. 

There are various types of delay analysis methodologies that can offer valuable results for the approach to your current project. For example, time impact analysis examines delay events in chronological order to calculate the impact and the extent of the delay. 

This evaluation stage is also an excellent time to assess the validity of outstanding change order requests with time impacts. With an understanding of previous delays, you can decide if these change order requests are still applicable. You should also refer to the contract requirements to determine if performance up to this point aligns with them. Cost and time will be the most important aspects to consider. 

Step 4: Assess and Determine Go-Forward Recommendations 

After obtaining this important information, you can determine which schedule changes and risk mitigation strategies you should apply to your project moving forward. You can then submit a delay claim or recovery plan that details these changes and carry on with the project. 

As you move forward with project changes, the change management process will be critical for your team to succeed. Every stakeholder in the project needs to be fully informed about the changes and the impact these have on cost and time. A robust planning and scheduling agreement helps all involved parties understand the changes early on. 

During the completion process, providing regular updates to senior management is essential. All members of your team must keep each other accountable and ensure the new schedule is completed as agreed upon. Senior management should also assess project scope regularly to assess how the schedule is unfolding and where adjustments may need to be made. 

How to Choose a Claims Expert  

A claims expert can be a valuable contributor to your project, particularly if the issues and schedule impacts are in dispute.  A claims expert can help the team better understand the contract terms and the execution strategy. For example, a traditional design-bid-build project can become a construction at-risk that requires a completely new strategy to fix. Even the most experienced contractors can face these challenges and need some form of support. 

An experienced consultant can help you identify delay causes, develop a schedule, get your project back on track, and file claims properly to recover damages. The process of selecting a claims expert can be overwhelming without proper planning. There are several questions to ask when hiring anyone to come alongside you and your team during a challenging time: 

  • What is their industry expertise? 
  • Have they worked on a project like this before? 
  • What is their track record like? 
  • Do they understand and align with our company’s culture and goals? 
  • What are their methodologies for this type of construction challenge? 
  • What is the budget and time required to complete their findings? 

Partner With Spire 

Partnering with a professional consulting team like Spire allows you to successfully assess and redirect a project’s trajectory. Spire’s expert consulting team closely monitors KPIs to proactively manage any changes that may arise. Spire Consulting Group offers excellence in services like litigation support, construction claims reporting, project management, CPM scheduling, cost estimating, and construction advisory. Our team has the hands-on experience to guide you through every phase of your construction project. 

As a full-service, multidiscipline firm, Spire can use both proactive and forensic expertise to accurately identify project delays and causes to file claims. Our consultants thoroughly understand construction laws, regulations, codes, and policies to help you recover damages when unexpected delays occur. With this extensive knowledge, Spire can help analyze claims and avoid costly disputes. Other Spire services like contract and plan review, pre-project planning, and schedule and cost monitoring can help your company avoid disputes

Spire’s team has the expertise to help you predict and prevent potential delays in the future. Contact us to learn more. 

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