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Delayed projects, construction industry must call time on missed deadlines

Delayed projects, the construction industry must call time on missed deadlines and act now.

Time is a thief, and right now it is stealing profitability from 60 per cent of UK construction projects. It’s time to fight back and minimise delayed projects.

With a record number of projects completed on budget last year, this should be a great time to be in construction. Client satisfaction is up again after a three-year decline according to the 2016 UK Performance report, with 85 per cent of clients giving finished projects a rating of eight-out-of-ten or higher.

But all that good news comes crumbling down when we see that only four in 10 projects covered by the report came in on time. Just imagine how budgeting and client satisfaction scores would benefit if we could stop so many delayed projects from over-running!

Delayed projects failing to hit deadlines is a trend that we at Kenzie have seen all over the UK for decades, but we believe that a shift is taking place among contractors and project owners who are waking up to the ease with which they can transform their prospects using simple project management.

Scheduling for success

At the outset of a project, everyone is keen to get cracking. Often, the subject of proper project scheduling receives little more than the lip service required to satisfy the contract, but this is a costly oversight.

Far from being a box-ticking exercise, project scheduling is vital to hitting deadlines and avoiding potential prolongation costs, and it should start at the tender stage.

All too often, contractors create a simple bar chart that illustrates wildly optimistic durations, and they call it a schedule. The client gleefully signs it off, happily unaware that the timescales quoted are never going to be met in a million years.

We advise contractors to err on the side of caution when presenting a project schedule, and to discuss their reasoning with their clients. If a client understands your schedule properly from the beginning, your working relationship with them will benefit hugely and you won’t suffer the stress of working to an utterly unrealistic deadline.

Deal in details

Major projects stand and fall on the amount of detailed preparation that goes into them. That’s why we are working with a major contractor to put together a pre-construction schedule for a £200M scheme.

The schedule will cover all the requisite permits, licenses, access and approvals so that work can begin on time with a developed design and no procurement or construction delays.

But time estimations don’t stop being important once the planning is done; we will work with our client to ensure accurate progress reports and schedule updates are delivered throughout the project – reports and updates that are not forged in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

We frequently see contractors trying to paint a picture of their progress that is all sweetness and light, when the reality is they are up against it. This benefits nobody, and instead we advise maximum transparency, honest reporting of delays, and slippage analysis that describes in detail what has gone wrong. These steps can save huge costs when it comes to the completing the project.

Don’t wait until it’s too late

Keeping accurate records are key to supporting any claim for an extension of time, but you can’t simply make them up when you need to. A project owner will quite rightly take scrutinise your claim, and you need to be able to back everything up with solid records and data.

By using slippage analysis, you can identify client-driven problems and ascertain on a monthly basis any critical activities and critical delaying events. You can also monitor key interfaces such as access and approvals, raise contract notices, and submit any substantiation required along the way.

We all want to live in a world where projects are not just delivered on budget, but where they are delivered on time and contribute healthy profit margins for contractors. We believe that, with some common sense project management and scheduling in place, that world is just around the corner.

This article, written by Kenzie Group MD, Joseph Bond was featured online in Construction News in November 2016.

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