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The True Impacts of Late Deliverables at the Construction Site

Publication No
Academic Document
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2016
Research Team
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Given that a construction site is both temporary and unique, the outcome of every construction project is dependent upon having all of 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 or the secondary knock-on impacts of late deliverables are typically recorded. Rather, project teams tend to be reactionary when dealing with late deliverable events leading to increased pressure on traditional project goals: cost, schedule, safety and quality performance. Furthermore, with the strain placed on meeting these goals, inordinate pressure is also placed on individuals, teams, organizations, and the relationships between all three (collectively, “organizational capacity”) on the project.

In order to better 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), commissioned Research Team (RT) 300 to investigate how various types of late deliverables affect the cost, schedule, quality, safety, and organizational performance on a project. Particularly, RT 300 was charged with identifying the most common types of late deliverables and their full range of impacts on projects.

Two research thrusts were developed to guide the research process: (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 how they impacted 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 9 in-depth case studies, RT 300 compiled extensive lists of both potential late deliverables, from complex engineered equipment to design decisions to various types of human resources, and an even broader list of risks posed to projects. After categorizing and defining all of this information, a database and industry tool – together the Late Deliverable Risk Catalog (LDRC) – were developed as a means to navigate the myriad of impact and risk descriptions collected in the research process using queries or filters.

Concurrently, RT 300 used some of the same research methods to understand how the construction industry currently perceives late deliverables and their impacts, and quantitative data 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 believes the Late Deliverable Risk Catalog can help project teams recognize risks and improve alignment while proactively managing late deliverables to reduce both their frequency and severity. Towards these goals, RT 300 has also developed implementation and use recommendations for the research and the LDRC and prevention recommendations for the highest risk deliverables in the construction industry. These recommendations, along with the Late Deliverable Risk Catalog, 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. It is the hope of RT 300 that this can be used to improve project delivery, productivity, and predictability and enhance safety, quality, and organizational and individual performance.

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