With the natural complexity of construction projects, it’s no wonder the construction industry is notorious for its costly delays. Unexpected events come in all shapes and sizes, from last-minute change orders and scheduling issues to weather delays. And when operations come to a grinding halt, there’s a good chance that cost overruns are just around the corner.
Construction leaders understand common job site challenges all too well, but they may be surprised to learn how much power they have in preventing potential delays before they happen. Here are 4 easily avoidable mistakes that push projects past their deadlines.
1. Poor Estimates
Cost estimators have a tough job: they manage multiple projects and work long hours to meet tight review deadlines. When trying to complete high-quality, accurate estimates under a time crunch, it’s easy to make mistakes or miss steps in the process. Unfortunately, overlooking crucial information can threaten the outcome of a project. And if the mistake isn’t recognized until halfway through the project, the project may be significantly delayed or abandoned altogether.
To make matters worse, every construction project comes with its own set of unique variables. Cost factors for one project may not apply to another, no matter how similar the two projects are. This makes it difficult to base estimates solely on past projects or cost estimating guides. The best way to avoid unexpected costs that could throw off the estimate is to research the individual factors of a project and gather information from other team members. When estimating labour costs, for example, you can reduce the margin of error by having a quick meeting with a seasoned foreperson. They will be able to double-check the projections and help make adjustments where necessary.
Creating an accurate and workable project estimate is the foundation of delivering a project on-time, so make sure that you end each project with a post-mortem to compare estimates and final costs. This will help your firm develop ways to improve the estimate process.
2. Scope Creep
A strong estimate sets out a clear vision for the project ahead, but any changes made during the life of the project can get messy quick. Scope creep can happen if stakeholders aren’t on the same page when it comes to project goals, clients change their minds about project details or new information arises that affects the project plan.
Whatever the cause, scope creep can place construction managers in a tight situation. Initial budgets are strained and become more difficult to manage. Team members may be forced to conduct costly re-work, working overtime to make the necessary changes while keeping to the schedule. Even profit margins suffer, as leaders are forced to revisit estimates and make revisions that will keep their clients happy.
While scope creep is a common phenomenon, it is by no means a foregone conclusion. To keep a close eye on budgets and project specifications, construction firms must involve stakeholders early in the planning process and keep them in the loop throughout the duration of the project. The best way to make sure everyone is on the same page is to invest in project management software that facilitates strong communications and collaboration.
To drastically lower the impacts of scope changes, get stakeholders involved early and keep them in the loop. An ERP platform with a single database makes it easy for stakeholders to view relevant milestones and data with apps that present the information in intuitive analytics dashboards. In addition, firms can invest in mobile technology, which allows for on-site workers to upload data to the ERP system in real-time.
With the lines of communication open and operations streamlined, it’s much easier for construction teams to create change management strategies that are sure to prevent scope creep.
3. Stunted Decision Making
The last thing any project manager wants is to keep workers waiting around on the job site. But when approvals are needed before a team can move forward, delays in executive decision-making waste time and money. To make confident decisions in a timely manner, leaders need to be well informed and they must be able to contact stakeholders and suppliers at a moment’s notice. A shared construction software platform with a single database is the best solution for empowering decision making. With advanced ERP platforms, leaders can access real-time information, send stakeholder reports using standard templates and coordinate with other decision makers on a single platform.
4. Poor Visibility & Collaboration
Balancing the day-to-day job site management with big picture key performance indicators can be incredibly challenging for project managers and construction leaders. When the field and office are disconnected, project managers and executives can’t coordinate data.
Without access to project-level and enterprise-level key performance indicators, project managers can’t make the adjustments necessary to ensure that a project remains profitable. Similarly, poor visibility into progress, efficiency and productivity on the worksite prevents executives from standardizing protocol or streamlining operations.
Mobile apps that are part of a larger ERP system are the best way to connect the field and office. An advanced mobile app can allow workers in the field to fill out daily checklists or send pictures of equipment malfunctions and other material issues. Leaders can address job site problems and project managers can get a bird’s eye view of the project with analytics dashboards.
A modern approach to construction has changed the way we view project delays. With a balanced combination of traditional expertise and advanced software, construction leaders are gaining control over challenges that were once simply taken for granted.