What are the causes of delays in implementation of Projects?

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“A project” is a discrete set of inter-related work activities constrained by a specific scope, budget, and schedule to deliver, performed in a logical sequence to attain a specific result and achieve the strategic goals of an Organisation. Each activity, and the entire project, has a Start and Finish date.

“Project Management” is the tools, techniques, and processes for defining, initiating, planning, organizing, controlling, and leading a project to conclusion and delivering the predefined results. Projects are parts, or subsystems, of much bigger systems called businesses of the organisation. Projects, of course, are not implemented and operated in a vacuum. Each project has or uses elements such as processes, participants, policies, procedures, and requirements, some of which are dependent upon and interact with related elements in the larger business system.

A conflict between project and system can result in disequilibrium. More important, it is easier to identify potential project failure by recognizing the disequilibrium. If left unmanaged, disequilibrium can result in project failure. So what types of disequilibrium make a project a success or failure?


In almost all cases, a project’s success or failure is attributed to one or the other of following mentioned common reasons:

1 Delay in handing over of project site i.e. Right of Way (RoW);
2 Unforeseen ground conditions for implementation of Project, at project site;
3 Conflicts between owner and other Stakeholders of Project;
4 Improper Macro & Micro level Planning of contractor during bidding stage;
5 Improper and Poor means of contracting and subcontracting work under the Project;
6 Inaccurate specification of site conditions and project scope;
7 Unrealistic time schedule given in contract and accepted by Contractor;
8 Faulty Geo – investigation report;
9 Slow decisions on project issues from the owner or poor follow up by the Contractor;
10 Bureaucracy in client’s organization;
11 Ambiguity in specifications and conflicting interpretation of the same by parties;
12 Ambiguity in General or Special Terms and Conditions of contract and conflicting interpretation of the same by parties;
13 Unrealistic inspection and testing methods proposed in contract;
14 Delay in approval of completed work by client (i.e. stage passing);
15 Delay in approval of shop drawings and samples;
16 Non availability of drawings / designs on time by the Design Consultant;
17 Consultant or Architect’s reluctance for change i.e. Specifications, Drawings, Detailing etc.;
18 Delay in obtaining permissions & approvals from Local Authorities;
19 Poor organizational structure of client or consultant;
20 Financial Constraints of contractor;
21 Delay in payment of running account bills by client to the contractor;
22 Inadequate experience of contractor i.e. technical incompetence for specific job;
23 Poor labour productivity;
24 Lack of control over sub contractor ;
25 Frequent change of sub contractor;
26 Poor site management and supervision;
27 Use of improper or obsolete construction methods;
28 Increase in scope of work beyond provisions of Contract;
29 Rework due to errors in execution of project activities;


30 Rework due to change of design or deviation order;
31 Delay in finalization of rates for extra items;
32 Delay in Issue of deviation order;
33 Poor coordination among parties i.e. poor co-ordination management;
34 Delay in material delivery by vendors ;
35 Delay in material to be supplied by the owner i.e. delay in issue of free issue materials by Client;
36 Delay in material procurement (action by the contractor);
37 Change in material prices / price escalation;
38 Improper storage of materials leading to damaged material when necessary
39 Inefficient use of equipment
40 Lack of skilled operators for specialized equipment;
41 Extreme weather conditions;
42 Local political conditions;
43 Restricted access at site;
44 Poor standard of Safety Management: Site accidents due to lack of safety measures;
45 Poor standard of Safety Management: Site accidents due to Negligence;
46 Lack of motivation for contractor( viz. provisions of Incentive or bonuses for early finish etc in the contract );
47 Changes in Govt. regulations and laws;
48 Other force majeure reasons, beyond the Control of Client or Consultant or Contractor.

You can download What are the causes of delays in implementation of Projects in pdf format here

We at are thankful to Sir Sanjay Sharma, BE, MBA, PhM (Infrastructure) for submitting this very important topic on the main causes of delays in implementation of projects. We are sure that this will be of great use to all civil engineers in studying and then rectifying the major delay causes in the projects.

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  • osward nkondola March 20, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I appreciate the work, congratuation to you

  • Mesfin Gezahegn December 9, 2016 at 1:28 am

    Thank you very much for your important and short documents .

  • misheck Mwape January 31, 2017 at 5:37 am

    Iam research on the causes of project implementation delays in projects dealing with basic needs mainly controlled by the Government especially in Developing Countries like Zambia.

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