What are the best construction delay analysis methods?

ALICE Manage can serve as a recovery tool and help you get your delayed construction project back on track.

"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth"
-Mike Tyson

Large construction projects start with a lot of fanfare. Plans are made, analyzed, changed, and reworked until the major players agree. Construction may begin – depending on the project type – with a ceremonial groundbreaking. And then construction starts. This is when the much deliberated over plans are put into action. But things happen, and delays occur. 

So, what are you going to do about it? How do you adjust and get back on schedule? Before you can tackle that challenge, you need to analyze and understand the cause of the construction delay

Let’s start by assuming the back-up was not caused by an excusable delay. These unanticipated delays may be weather-related or happen due to labor actions. Let’s also assume that the delays are not due to significant change orders. Like those due to weather, such changes will obviously cause delays and schedules will simply have to be adjusted and extra time granted.

The type of delays we’re looking for are not easily detected. For example, there’s insufficient crew, or a sub(s) are not working at the rate that was projected, or materials are not on site as needed, etc.

When analyzing the cause of a construction delay, the first step would naturally be to look at the schedule that was developed prior to beginning construction. Pinpointing where/when things went astray should lead to understanding why a project is delayed.

Construction Scheduling Methods

In a previous post, we listed the top seven scheduling methods for construction projects. The list includes Critical Path Method (CPM) which is the most common project scheduling method, Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT), Line of Balance (LOB), Q Scheduling, Resource Oriented Scheduling, Last Planner System (LPS), and Gantt Chart.

Of course, each method has its pluses and minuses.

Both CPM and PERT are visual. A strength of CPM is that it makes clear that each step in a project impacts the other. If one thing goes astray, a domino effect can occur – ie pushing everything off schedule.

 However, using CPM for large and complex projects is challenging “… due to thousands of activities and their dependent relationships.” Instead, CPM may work better in tandem with other methods.

Like CPM, PERT is labor-intensive and expensive.

Limitations noted about the other scheduling methods include: 

  • Does not incorporate the effect of crews on productivity rates.
  • Takes a good deal of front-end effort and resources to establish the schedule. 
  • Not appropriate for projects with many resources to allocate.
  • Contract methods could discourage responsible parties.
  • Tends to get complex, especially when a project has more than 30 activities.

Analyzing the schedule can indicate when a project went astray and perhaps how/why, but then what?

Analysis is Step One

The purpose of analysis, of course, is to recognize the issue and make the necessary adjustments. Although it is easier to do this after the fact so that the next project goes according to schedule, every project that is delayed is costly. And if a delay can be minimized, there’s a chance budget integrity may be maintained. 

How can that happen? If time is lost, it can’t be recovered.

Hold on now. 

ALICE Manage can serve as a recovery tool and help you get your delayed construction project back on track. And it starts with gaining a clear understanding of how far off schedule you’ll deliver vs. your original plan.

Once this is done, you can review scenarios on how to make up the time. Considering adding another crew? Bringing in more machinery? Re-sequencing the remainder of the project? ALICE can create and analyze multiple scheduling options that can help you to make up for lost time. You may even beat your original baseline.

Analyzing construction delays can be a money saver. However, that only happens if it is followed by action that will allow you to make up the time and complete your project on time. ALICE can help you do this.

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