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The True Impacts of Late Deliverables at the Construction Site

Publication No
Research & Development Product
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2014
Research Team
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The outcome of every construction project depends upon the delivery of all the proper resources delivered to the site at the appropriate time. Although this is common knowledge in the construction industry, late deliverables to the site continue to be a major impediment to project success. While it is common to track the cost and schedule impacts of late deliverables on projects, neither the full range of immediate impacts nor the secondary knock-on impacts of late deliverables are typically recorded in any systematic way. Rather, project teams tend to become reactive when dealing with late deliverable events. This type of response leads to increased pressure on the traditional project goals: cost, schedule, safety, and quality performance. Furthermore, with the stress placed on meeting these goals, inordinate pressure is also placed on individuals, teams, and organizations; as a result, the collective functionality of all three—the project’s “organizational capacity”—is often impaired.

In order to understand the far-reaching impacts of late deliverables at the construction site, the Construction Industry Institute (CII), in collaboration with the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT), chartered Research Team (RT) 300, The True Impact of Late Deliverables at the Construction Site. CII asked the team to investigate how various types of late deliverables affect the cost, schedule, quality, safety, and organizational performance on a project. RT 300 was particularly charged with identifying the most common types of late deliverables and their full range of impacts on projects.

The research team developed two main research thrusts: 1) understand and document the full range of potential late deliverables and the associated impacts on and risks to construction projects; and (2) examine how the construction industry currently perceives and manages late deliverables. The research project consisted of several parallel data collection efforts to identify types of late deliverables and determine their impacts on the five project pillars: cost, schedule, quality, safety, and organizational capacity. Using 324 years of collective team expertise, a review of the existing literature, 240 industry surveys, 54 case study questionnaires, and nine in-depth case studies, RT 300 compiled two extensive lists: first, a list of potential late deliverables, from complex engineered equipment to design decisions to various types of human resources; and then an even broader list of risks posed to projects. After categorizing and defining all of this information, the research team developed a database and an industry tool, the Late Deliverable Risk Catalog (LDRC). The LDRC tool, an MS Access-based database tool, provides filters as means of navigating the large database of impact and risk descriptions collected in the RT 300 research process. (See Implementation Resource 300-2, Volume I, Late Deliverable Risk Catalog: A User Guide, and Volume II, The True Impact of Late Deliverables: Case Study Summaries, for detailed instructions, implementation recommendations, and proposed uses of the LDRC.) RT 300 developed the LDRC in a Web “app” format.

As RT 300 developed the LDRC, it also investigated how the construction industry currently perceives late deliverables and their impacts. The quantitative data the team collected provided several insights. First, industry professionals did not readily recognize safety and quality risks associated with late deliverables. Second, while owners and contractors are aligned in understanding many of the impacts of late deliverables, there is room for improvement on several specific impacts. Third, according to industry professionals, the most common late deliverables are also the most severe. With these findings in mind, RT 300 designed the LDRC to enable project teams to recognize risks, improve alignment, and proactively manage late deliverables for reduced frequency and severity. Along with its recommendations for LDRC implementation and use, the team also formulated prevention recommendations for the highest-risk deliverables in the construction industry. All these resources can guide CII member companies and others involved in construction projects to an improved understanding of late deliverables, their impacts and risks, and prevention techniques. RT 300 is confident that the industry can use these materials to improve project delivery, productivity, and predictability, and to enhance safety, quality, and organizational and individual performance.

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