time & resource management —

Construction Delays and Best Practices for Contractors to Avoid Them

RhumbixMay 26, 2023 • 6 min read

Avoiding construction schedule delays requires careful planning, effective communication, and proactive management. Finding a definitive number one reason for construction project delays is challenging, as several factors can contribute to delays depending on the specific project and circumstances. However, based on industry experience, some common factors that often lead to construction project delays include:

  • Poor Planning and Scheduling: Inadequate project planning and scheduling, including unrealistic timelines, inaccurate estimations, or lack of contingency buffers, can result in delays as the project progresses.
  • Design Changes and Scope Creep: Changes to the project design or scope during construction can lead to delays, requiring adjustments, additional approvals, and coordination among various stakeholders.
  • Unfavorable Weather Conditions, such as heavy rain, snowstorms, hurricanes, or extreme temperatures, can significantly impact construction activities, causing delays in outdoor projects.
  • Insufficient Resource Management: Inefficient allocation and management of resources, including labor, materials, and equipment, can lead to delays and disruptions in the construction process.
  • Unforeseen Site Conditions: Discovering unexpected site conditions, such as poor soil quality, hidden underground utilities, or environmental issues, can require additional time for remediation or redesign, resulting in project delays.
  • Permitting and Regulatory Issues: Delays in obtaining necessary permits, approvals, or navigating complex regulatory processes can stall construction progress and impact the project schedule.
  • Lack of Skilled Labor: Shortages or inadequate availability of skilled labor can lead to delays if there is a mismatch between the required workforce and the project’s demands.
  • Change Orders and Contractual Disputes: Change orders and contractual disputes between parties involved in the project, such as the owner, contractor, or subcontractors, can cause delays as they are resolved or negotiated.
  • Financial Constraints: Limited project funding or economic issues can lead to delays if there are delays in procuring necessary funds or if the project experiences cash flow challenges.
  • Poor Communication and Coordination: Ineffective communication and coordination among project stakeholders, including the project team, subcontractors, suppliers, and clients, can lead to misunderstandings, delays in decision-making, and overall project inefficiencies.
  • Lacking The right technology that connects the field to the office: Construction software that connects the field to the office is designed to streamline communication, collaboration, and data management between construction site teams and office-based personnel. This software is a centralized platform that facilitates the flow of information, improves productivity (using mobile devices), enhances productivity, and reduces unnecessary costs.

It’s important to note that these factors are not mutually exclusive, and delays often result from several factors. However, effective project management, risk assessment, and proactive mitigation strategies can help address these challenges and minimize the impact of potential delays.

In this article, we have assembled a few best practices to help your firm mitigate construction delays:

  1. Thorough Project Planning: Invest time and effort in detailed project planning before construction begins. Clearly define project goals, scope, and objectives. Develop a comprehensive schedule that includes all tasks, milestones, and deadlines.
  2. Realistic Timeline: Set realistic and achievable timelines based on accurately estimating the project’s complexity, available resources, and potential risks. Avoid overly optimistic schedules that do not account for unforeseen challenges.
  3. Risk Assessment and Mitigation: Conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify potential risks and challenges impacting the project schedule. Develop a risk mitigation plan to address these risks proactively. Allocate resources and develop contingency plans for possible delays.
  4. Efficient Resource Allocation: Ensure that resources such as materials, equipment, and labor are adequately allocated and scheduled according to the project requirements. Regularly review resource availability to prevent bottlenecks and identify potential shortages in advance.
  5. Regular Progress Monitoring: Implement a robust progress monitoring system to track progress against the planned schedule. Regularly review and update the schedule based on actual progress to identify deviations or potential delays.
  6. Effective Communication: Promote open and effective communication among all stakeholders, including the project team, subcontractors, suppliers, and clients. Encourage collaboration and timely information sharing to address issues promptly and avoid misunderstandings.
  7. Early Issue Identification and Resolution: Bring in construction trades and procurement experts early in the design phase to evaluate concepts and designs and find design choices may have costly ripple effects down the line or reduce costs. Promptly address any challenges or roadblocks during construction to prevent them from causing significant delays.
  8. Adequate Contingency Time: Incorporate contingency time buffers into the project schedule for unexpected delays or disruptions. These buffers can help absorb minor delays without impacting the overall project timeline.
  9. Streamlined Decision-Making: Establish transparent decision-making processes to prevent delays caused by indecision or lack of direction. Empower responsible individuals with the authority to make decisions promptly and minimize bureaucracy.
  10. Regular Project Meetings: Conduct weekly project meetings to review progress, discuss upcoming tasks, address concerns, and ensure everyone is aligned. Use these meetings as opportunities to identify potential delays and collaboratively find solutions.
  11. Skilled Project Management: Employ experienced and skilled project managers who can effectively oversee the construction process, coordinate various activities, and proactively manage risks and delays.
  12. Continuous Improvement: Encourage a culture of continuous improvement by learning from past projects and identifying areas for enhancement. Regularly review project performance, gather feedback, and implement lessons learned in future projects.

Connecting the Field to the Office to Avoid Project Delays

In addition to these best practices, construction contractors connect the field to the office with incredible software that can significantly prevent project delays by improving data accuracy, streamlining communication, and enhancing overall project management. Here are some ways in which field-first timekeeping, resource management, and production tracking software can help:

Accurate and up-to-date data can facilitate better decision-making and timely identification of issues that could cause delays. Real-Time Data Capture: Field data collection software enables teams to capture data on-site using mobile devices or tablets. This allows for real-time data collection, reduces field manual data entry, and mitigates back-office errors or discrepancies.

Improved Communication and Collaboration: Field data collection software often includes collaboration features that enable seamless communication between field teams, project managers, and stakeholders. For example, instant data sharing, progress updates, and issue reporting can help identify and promptly address potential delays. In addition, enhanced communication can foster collaboration, ensuring everyone’s goals and activities are aligned.

Efficient Task Management: Field data collection software typically includes task management functionalities that allow project managers to assign tasks, track progress, and set priorities. With a centralized platform for task management, project teams can stay organized, monitor task statuses, and identify potential bottlenecks or delays in real-time. This enables proactive intervention to address issues and maintain the project schedule.

Automated Reporting: Field data collection software often offers automated reporting capabilities, allowing teams to generate customized reports with just a few clicks. These reports can provide valuable insights into project progress, resource allocation, and performance metrics. Analyzing these reports can help project managers identify trends, address inefficiencies, and make informed decisions to prevent delays.

Quality Control and Inspections: Field-first software includes features for custom forms, quality control, and inspections. These tools enable teams to conduct checks, record observations, and track compliance with project requirements or industry standards. Identifying and rectifying quality issues early on can minimize delays caused by rework or non-compliance.

Risk Assessment and Mitigation: Field data collection software can assist in risk assessment and mitigation by allowing teams to capture and document potential risks, track their status, and implement mitigation measures. By proactively managing risks, project teams can reduce the likelihood of delays associated with unforeseen challenges or issues.

Resource Planning and Optimization: Field data collection software often includes resource management capabilities that help project managers optimize resource allocation. Having a clear view of resource availability, project managers can confidently assign the right staff and resources for the best project outcomes. In addition, this efficient resource planning helps prevent delays due to resource shortages or mismanagement.


While connecting the field to the office with software can be valuable in preventing project delays, it should be implemented as part of a comprehensive project management approach emphasizing best practices. Effective software utilization, professional project management practices, and proactive decision-making can significantly contribute to keeping your future construction projects on schedule.