At least 60 percent of the project delays in KSA are because of the method of managing the other 40 percent. The delays start with a change order request, and additional delays occurs due to the strategy of managing the original delays. 60 percent of project delays could be avoided with an effective project management plan.
During my work in the construction projects for the past 5 years, I noticed that more than 80 percent of my company projects are delayed. The main reason of the delays is varied from a project to another project, however, there is a shared factor in all the project which is the strategy of managing the original delays.
I will explain below the main reasons of the construction projects delays in KSA, their impact on the project and the possibility to avoid the delays caused by each reason. I divided the reasons of the delays into two main factors (Delays Factors in Construction) involved in the project delays, external and internal factors.
1- DELAYS DUE TO EXTERNAL FACTORS:
External factors are those events of delays which are not related to the contractor and not under his control, they occurred by the client or the consultant, and affect the progress of the work or interrupt the normal sequence of the activities. The external factors are mainly change orders and successor activity, in my opinion, they represent 40 percent of the construction project delays causes.
A. Change orders:
Change orders or variation orders is the most famous factor affecting the work progress, and this usually issued to the contractor by the client or the project consultant. Change orders occurred because of design deficiencies or because of client requirement.
- Change orders due to design deficiencies:
This type of change orders is the most dangers factor which could result a massive delays to the project. This type of change orders is considered as an external factor in case the contract type is not a design and built contract. The impact of this factor could be minimized by implementing a full design review before starting the construction works in order to identify any design deficiencies as early as possible.
- Change orders due to client requirements:
Sometimes the project owner or the client change his mind about piece of work on the project, and as a result he issue a change request. Another reason for the client to issue a change order not related to the design, is because a new technology / system is available on the market latest than the one specified in the project. These two reasons are common in KSA construction projects, and there is no way to avoid or minimize their effect rather than monitor the owner attitude and add them to the risk register
B. Successor activities:
In case the contractor works linked with others works finish to start, this could be a very good reason for construction delays. An example of finish to start relationship, one contractor is responsible for the project structure (foundation and concrete), and another contractor is responsible for the finishes works. This factor cannot be controlled, but should be clearly identified in the contractor management plan to inform the client that if X activity delayed by contractor 1, Y activity will be delayed by contractor 2.
2- DELAYS DUE TO INTERNAL FACTORS:
Internal factors are completely under the contractor control and responsibility, any delays occurs to the project due to those factors, the contractor will bear all the consequences. Unfortunately 60 percent of the project delays are caused by internal factors such as poor management and lack of man power and equipment.
A. Poor management:
Lack of an effective project management plan and poor Construction Project Planning is a common reason for the project delays in KSA. It is easy for the contractors to prepare a time schedule, However, to develop a full project management plan and stick to it, this is the real challenge. Below is a list of the missing components from a regular project management plan for a construction project in KSA.
- Project procedures (who is doing what and when).
- Change order management (what the required actions are upon receive a variation order).
- Materials tracking (submittal, approval, issue P.O, manufacture, shipping and delivery).
- Shop drawings tracking (submittal, approval and issue for construction).
B.Lack of man power and equipment:
Man power and equipment are the resources to execute any activity, any lack of these resources will directly lead to a delays. The productivity is also involved with the numbers, low productivity will defiantly lead to project delays. The following reasons will explain why you may have lack of manpower and equipment in a construction project.
- Underestimation of the activity complication.
- Low productivity rates.
- No available resources in the local market.
- “The key challenge for construction companies is to complete the projects on time and within the estimated budget, as construction delays always amplify project costs (Sweis et al., 2007).”
- “A study conducted by Assaf and Al-Hejji (2006) found that around 70% of all public sector construction projects were delayed due to several factors in construction projects in KSA.”
- “The issue of delay in the construction projects in KSA is not a new problem and has created a negative image for the industry (Sweis et al., 2007).”
- “According to the study of Faridi and El-Sayegh (2006), which was conducted in the UAE, the most crucial factors causing delay were: (1) drawings on preparation and approval, (2) inadequate and poor planning, (3) lack of quick decision making from owner, (4) lack of manpower, (5) lack of proper supervision and management, (6) lack of labour productivity, (7) lack of labour skills, (8) lack of availability of equipment and material, (9) difficulties in taking approvals from government authorities and municipal committees, (10) contractor related financing during construction.”
(Albogamy, Scott et al. 2012) identified the delays factor in their statement “owner/client related factors, contractor related factors, consultant related factors, and external factors.” They perform a research regarding delay factors targeting the owners, contractors, and consultants. The survey results identifies the crucial factor as per the following:
- Owner/Client Related Factors: “low performance of the lowest bidder contractor in the KSA government tendering system.”
- Contractor Related Factors: “delays in the sub-contractor’s work’ was highlighted as a top most critical factor.”
- Consultant Related Factors: “Delay in approval of shop drawings”
- External Factors: “non utilization of professional construction contractual management’ and ‘rise in the prices of the materials”
ALBOGAMY, A., SCOTT, D. and DAWOOD, N., 2012. Addressing Construction Delays in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. International Proceedings of Economics Development & Research, 45, pp. 148.