Architect in hardhat waiting near truck at construction site; mitigate project delays concept

How Centralized Data Helps Trade Contractors Mitigate Project Delays

Delays on construction projects are the norm, not the exception.

According to a survey conducted by Cornerstone Projects in 2022, 91 percent of construction professionals were involved in a project that suffered delays, up from 85 percent in 2016. Those delays come at a steep price. On average, delays cost companies up to 20 percent of the original project cost estimate, reports the team at Tungsten Capital

There are a wide variety of factors that contribute to project delays. Some, like adverse weather and economic conditions, cannot be controlled. Others, like lost hours, labor shortages, change orders and miscommunication, however, can be mitigated. 

The key is centralizing data so you have access to real-time information that enables you to quickly adapt to issues that threaten the on-time delivery of projects.

Workers during idle time at job site; mitigate project delays concept

Common Causes of Project Delays are Exacerbated by Decentralized Data

“The construction industry produces vast amounts of data every day,” writes Liam Stannard, chief technology officer at BigRentz. “Huge data repositories continue to fill with information.” 

This is good for construction companies; there is no such thing as too much information. The problem, explains Stannard, is that “these repositories are often unstructured.” Essentially, the data is scattered about in multiple places which makes it difficult to gain real-time insights to use to make quick decisions.

Here’s how that decentralization of data makes common project delay problems worse. 

Lost Hours Stay Lost

Lost hours are a headache for construction companies. 

“Getting stuck waiting around is a nearly universal problem in the construction industry,” writes the Trekker Group team. Too often, workers have to sit idle for hours or even days waiting to do their work. Every minute that workers aren’t productive is another minute added to the completion of the project. It doesn’t take long for those hours to add up to significant project delays. 

Those lost hours can then snowball from one project to another. When crews are held up at a job, those delays often impact the next job that then runs behind schedule.

Decentralized data makes this problem worse. If your labor data were in one place, you would be able to track lost hours in real time. With that information, you could reallocate your labor from a job where workers are idle to one where they could be productive.

When labor data isn’t centralized, there’s no way for you to know where those hours are being lost and how that time might be recovered. The hours simply stay lost and contribute to delays in project delivery.

Skills Gaps Go Unrecognized and Unfilled

Another labor issue impacting the delivery of construction projects right now is a labor shortage. “When there’s a shortage of available labor, it can influence the entire project plan,” explains the team at Park University.

According to data from Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the construction industry will need to bring on 501,000 workers in 2024 above normal hiring numbers to fill the labor shortage and meet industry needs. That high number means, for the foreseeable future, construction companies will continue to confront skills gaps that contribute to project delays. 

To compensate for those gaps, most trade contractors have to find ways to do more with the workers they have. They have to be smarter about labor allocation. Such decisions require data. 

If your data isn’t centralized, it’s nearly impossible to gain real-time visibility into your labor resources. You need to see where you have labor gaps and where you have labor waste so you can more efficiently allocate the labor to get the work done on time. You can’t accomplish that if the data isn’t there. 

Change Orders Create Chaos

Change orders are inevitable and everyone knows they often lead to project delays. Just how harmful those delays are depends on your processes for approving and executing change orders. The faster you can assess change orders and forecast their impacts, the more efficient you can be at implementing a new project plan. 

When data is decentralized, those processes are clunky and time-consuming. 

If teams control their own project data, it limits your accessibility to the documents and information you need to make quick, informed decisions about project scope changes. You can’t effectively execute changes with the least amount of impact to timelines when you don’t have access to accurate project data.

Communication Becomes Difficult

Communication between stakeholders is a critical element to delivering projects on time. “Poor communication slows down production schedules, causing project delays and making it difficult for team members to work together efficiently,” explains Adam Arndt, president of Catalyst Construction

Data decentralization invites miscommunication. 

Data provides the evidence that drives good communication. If everyone is on the same page, communication is more seamless. It’s when different stakeholders are looking at different data that communication becomes problematic. Siloed information prevents universal access to updated project data. 

The key to softening the impact of all of these project delays is using construction project management software, like eSUB, to centralize data.

Workers in safety gear and hardhats using laptops and other devices; mitigate project delays concept

Why You Need to Centralize Data to Mitigate Project Delays

“Construction project delays can strike at any time,” writes the team at HSE Contractors. The faster you can react to them, the more likely you are to minimize their impact. That’s why you need access to real-time project data. With accurate insights, you can make quick decisions when faced with delays. 

The problem is that centralizing data is not a standard practice in the industry. Too many companies still rely on manual data entry on paper or in spreadsheets which keeps data siloed.

The solution to the problem is construction project management software which streamlines data collection processes and stores data in a central location so everyone can easily access all project information. This allows you to be flexible in the project plan and make quick decisions to hopefully circumvent project delays or, at the very least, mitigate their impact. 

Data Informs Labor Reallocation Decisions to Maximize Productivity

Allocating your labor resources effectively is one of the most critical elements to finishing jobs on time. You need your best crews on each job doing their best work or your project timelines will collapse. Technology allows you to easily and accurately track time so you can maximize worker productivity on every job. 

The software centralizes data so you can find lost hours and identify skills gaps. The data shows you where you can reallocate resources to get projects back on track by keeping workers busy and closing skills gaps. Essentially, the software gives you more control over productivity and project outcomes.  

Data Saves Time on Change Order Implementation

The successful implementation of change orders relies on data and streamlined processes. Construction project management software centralizes data so you can more efficiently and effectively implement changes. 

With the technology, you can better predict how a change will affect a project’s timelines so you can plan accordingly. Access to real-time data also provides greater visibility into projects so teams can track progress and maintain better control over costs and timelines. Trade contractors can also get change orders processed and approved faster when all of the information is stored in a central location. 

3G Drywall has seen vast improvements in the efficiency of their change order process with the software. “eSUB makes it really easy to enter change orders,” says project executive and co-owner Mathew Gurley. “I can go in there and enter it really fast. And then in the change order log I can extract out and send to the GC as an FYI.”

Data Improves Communication Between All Project Stakeholders

“Good communication is key to the successful completion of all construction projects,” writes ConstructConnect’s Editor in Chief Kendall Jones. Good data helps keep everyone on top of potential issues, with less friction in communication which can lead to project delays. 

When data is centralized, everyone involved in a construction job has access to the most up-to-date information at any point in time. There’s no confusion about what information is accurate. This allows for more efficient communication and collaboration so teams can make decisions faster and avoid unnecessary project delays. 

To learn more about how software can help you mitigate project delays, schedule a demo of eSUB Cloud today.

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