For commercial contractors, whether from GCs or submarines, a successful project is one that is completed on time and within budget. The customer is happy with the final product and the contractor walks away with a good profit. Everyone wins. When a project fails, it is usually because of conflicts and issues that cause cost overruns and schedule delays. If not managed properly, it will eventually lead to over-budget and over-date of major completion. Exceeding the budget will damage the contractor’s profit in addition to his exposure to liquidated damages for each day after the agreed completion date. It can also affect upcoming projects if contractor workers and equipment are restricted in an effort to finish a failed project. “Failure is not to choose.” – Ed Harris as NASA Flight Administrator Jane Kranz on Apollo 13 So what causes construction projects to fail? Any number of factors can cause a project to fail, but most of the time it boils down to how well the project manager or project management team is doing to oversee the project. Even the toughest projects burdened with issues can be successful if they are managed properly. Here are five reasons why construction projects fail and how to prevent them from happening on your next project: Inadequate Planning Poor planning leads to poor execution. The more time and effort you put into project planning, the better off you will be when work begins. This begins with carefully reviewing and fully understanding plans, specifications, scope of work and client expectations. Good planning involves working with the client, architect, subcontractors, and suppliers to establish construction schedules and project milestones. Planning goes beyond just creating a construction schedule. Additional elements include conducting a risk assessment and management strategy, developing site-specific safety plans, developing contingency plans, site logistics, and preparing the delivery of materials and equipment. Keep in mind that the plan and schedule are living documents that must be updated and modified as work on the project progresses. Fail to Communicate Good communication is critical to delivering a successful construction project. When communication between stakeholders is disrupted or mishandled, this can lead to delays, accidents, costly rework, and unsatisfied customers. Keeping everyone up to date with changes to work or schedule goes a long way in preventing major problems from developing that lead to project failures. Develop a communication plan and establish document control procedures. Define a major point of contact through which all communications will flow. All communications must be documented and shared with appropriate stakeholders. This includes meeting notes, submissions, requests for information, invoices, daily reports, change orders, and submissions. All correspondence, whether emails, phone calls, or personal conversations, must be documented and archived. This goes a long way in settling any disputes or disagreements that may arise throughout the life of the project. The flow of communications affects the flow of a construction project. Problems and delays happen when people stop communicating or responding to inquiries. Projects run more smoothly and are completed on time and within budget when everyone communicates and collaborates effectively. Scope creep and change orders is the ongoing expansion or changes to the initial scope of a project beyond what was initially intended. Factors that lead to scope creep include poorly defined scope, incomplete plans and specifications, poor communication, poor change order management, and customers changing their opinions on what they want. Change orders are similar in that they involve changes to plans outside of the original scope. Change commands differ from scope intrusion in that they can include additions and deletions from the original scope. It can also be initiated by the owner, but public calls and submarines can also order change orders and do not always result in additional costs or deadline extensions. Obviously, you shouldn’t take on a project with a poorly defined scope or incomplete plans and specifications. All construction methods, finishes and materials must be specified long before the contract is signed and work begins. The construction contract should clearly state how any work outside the original scope will be requested and documented. No further work shall commence until a written change order has been executed and authorized by the Customer. Additional costs and schedule extensions must be identified and agreed upon. Don’t forget to work with your subscribers to determine how change orders will affect their schedule before signing on for additional work. Productivity issues and delays We will ignore delays caused by events, such as natural disasters, that cannot be controlled by any of the parties involved. These excused delays are dealt with under force majeure clauses in construction contracts and protect the contractor from having to pay damages due to failure to implement or complete the project on schedule. Project schedules are based on productivity forecasts. Each task or task requires a certain number of working hours to complete which is used to determine the number of workers you will need to complete each one within a certain period of time. When workers don’t turn up, are injured, or run out at work, it can lower your productivity levels, cause delays and mess with your schedule. This may force you to bring in additional workers or lay off more work, which in turn reduces your profit margins. Labor shortages and lack of skilled workers have exacerbated the productivity problem over the past several years. New workers do not have the skills and confidence to complete tasks as quickly as the experienced warriors on your crew. Understanding the capabilities of your workers is vital when determining the schedule for your project. Run background checks and provide training to your employees to ensure they have the skills to do their job. Assign specific roles and responsibilities so everyone knows what they have to do each day. Equip your workers with the right tools and equipment needed to complete tasks efficiently. Work with your subcontractors to determine if they have the workforce available to perform contracted work as scheduled. Ignore the red flags When projects are running smoothly, it’s easy to ignore the early warning signs that a problem may occur. Small issues can quickly turn into big problems if left unchecked, leading to project failures. This can happen due to workers failing to report problems or not closely monitoring projects. These minor issues are often put into the background while dealing with other aspects of a project. All issues should be prioritized and dealt with accordingly as they arise. Project managers must be able to analyze problems and troubleshoot problems as soon as possible to avoid delays. Quick thinking and good decision making are what distinguishes great project managers from good ones. Do you need more leads in the project? ConstructConnect finds you the best construction projects to bid and win more business.