Whether you're a small contractor or a multinational construction firm, project delays and their impact on your budget remain a major headache. And the larger the scale of the project and the more parties and subcontractors involved, the more risk of delay creeps in. Here we explore some tips from successful project managers around the globe on getting your project delivered on time and on budget.

Avoid scope creep
While the ultimate scope of your project may be about delivering the final result, there are multiple steps along the way to achieving that goal. Some of these may seem trivial but each step is of equal importance, as work on larger aspects of the project often cannot proceed without them. By carefully managing and controlling your project’s scope
, you’re able to make the most out of all the resources at your disposal.

Some aspects to consider could include:
Have the roles, duties and deadlines for each and every contractor and supplier been determined?
Have training and hand-off requirements been considered?
Have you reviewed similar or previous projects which could prevent you from making the same mistake again?
Do all parties agree on and understand the project scope?

Explore materials and techniques that get the job done faster
Projects which manage to come in under budget and ahead of schedule generally have significant benefits for every party concerned. Contractors are able to move on to new projects, the managing firm gets a free PR boost, and the public or private client who ordered the project can start taking advantage of their new resource sooner. One way you can achieve this is by considering different materials and building techniques, which perhaps not common, have a proven track record of delivering ahead of schedule.

One notable example was the 7.6 km long road, codenamed Route TRIDENT, constructed by the British Army Royal Engineers 28 Regiment in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Designed to provide safe and reliable transport for the local civilian population as well as connect army patrol bases normally dependent upon air-dropped supplies, the project faced challenges on all fronts: getting across a 300 meter wide valley and irrigation system, obvious security concerns from sniper fire and explosive devices, and exorbitantly high aggregate prices in the hostile region, meaning its use would be severely limited. Speed was also of the essence.

The solution they came up with was a Neoloy Geocell road designed for heavy vehicles. A layer of geocells was filled in with locally dug soil (zero material cost), creating a cellular confinement system
which distributes loads laterally and reduces sub-grade stress. This meant aggregate was only required for the upper wearing course – resulting in an overall 75% reduction compared with a ‘normal’ aggregate road. Their simple and quick installment process meant the project was delivered under budget and ahead of schedule.

Considering alterative construction methods and techniques can clearly have a massive impact on project budget and delivery time.

Set smaller, more easily visualized deadlines
“We want the place watertight by winter” may be a great goal, but it’s difficult for workers on the ground to understand what needs to be done today and the next day and the next to keep that goal on track. By breaking the construction project down into smaller milestones and adhering rigidly to these, you can avoid delays caused by guesswork followed by a mad rush to get the entire project completed. Paying extra attention to the schedule of work and spending a bit more time on planning and making sure deadlines are realistic can prove to be a great investment down the road.

Learn from previous mistakes
While unexpected and uncontrollable factors will always be a reality in the real world, falling into the same trap twice is never good for morale. Learning to recognize the signs of an imminent delay and dealing with it promptly comes with experience, but the lessons of the past are just are valuable. Making sure your crew on the ground is trained in the possible causes of a delay, what they need to do if one arises, and how to recover from a delay can help the entire team stay on track.

Whether it’s the software you use to track your progress, forecast and budget, or having regular meetings in-person or online between various stakeholders, great communication will always be the best way to keep a large project on track. From the highest level of management to temporary workers on the ground, everyone should have a clear idea of their responsibilities and the resources at their disposal.

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