By Emily Newton

General contractors can use a few key tactics to keep projects on schedule easily. These tips can help you reduce pesky delays when you manage construction projects. Keeping things on schedule is half planning and half execution. The right approach allows any team to minimize delays and setbacks and impress shareholders with speedy delivery.


A major element of managing construction projects is having a clear road map. This is the bread and butter of keeping things moving on schedule. Planning in detail may not keep you from running into delays, but it will make it crystal clear when something is slowing down progress. The idea is to have a game plan that is detailed enough that you and your team will notice right away when you are starting to slip.

People who manage construction projects do the bulk of the planning for construction work, but general contractors also have their own things to do. They need to know the finer details of how progress will unfold on-site and when and where subcontractors will be required. A general contractor’s detailed plan should include documentation, such as applying for building permits, and site waste management.

In general, a strong project plan will include key team members and their responsibilities, clear and measurable goals, incremental benchmarks, and trackable success criteria to measure progress.


Every general contractor has been there — something goes wrong on-site and the entire project schedule is at risk. Maybe a piece of concrete-pouring machinery malfunctions and you figure that if you simply rush the process, you can make up for that lost time. This is rarely the case. Rushing can lead to quality issues down the road that creates even worse delays.

There is no substitute for high-quality work. It is much easier to explain a delay to a project owner when it is caused by a simple equipment malfunction rather than poor workmanship. This goes for equipment and materials, as well. It is often worth it to wait a little longer for better-quality products. In fact, experts have found that poor craftsmanship is the No. 1 cause of failure for building transformers.

It is important not to hold up progress over little imperfections, but taking the time to deliver a high-quality structure is worth it. It can help you avoid even larger delays or setbacks due to low-quality craftsmanship or materials.


Proper vehicle and equipment maintenance is one of the best ways to keep projects on track. On the one hand, regular upkeep has a slew of benefits for your construction machinery, like increasing their life spans and minimizing downtime. It can also play a key role in keeping work on schedule.

Predictive maintenance is a game-changer. It typically involves tracking vehicle performance using technology like IoT sensors. Teams that do this can perform quick, small tuneups and repairs rather than long, intensive work after a major breakdown. This will ultimately save significant time.

Your vehicles and equipment will have more uptime since predictive maintenance prevents major failures. Plus, regular upkeep lets machinery operate at peak performance, maximizing the productivity you get out of each piece. Even small productivity gains can add up.


Project managers take care of most of the needed paperwork. However, general contractors are responsible for a few key pieces of documentation, such as building permits and licenses. Creating an efficient process for handling paperwork can save you and the project significant amounts of time.

In general, it is best to block off more time than you think you’ll need for paperwork to get processed. You never know when a certain municipality’s permit office will experience delays. Everyone has a different work style that helps them get things done. Taking a little time to figure out what works for you and making a habit out of it can help you minimize the time you have to spend on documentation.


At the end of a construction project, you may be able to look back and recognize periods of the building process that took longer than expected. However, by then, it is too late to address the problem. General contractors can take steps to resolve bottlenecks before they cause delays by actively monitoring productivity and progress every day.

There are several ways to track productivity on-site, but technology can make it much easier and more effective. IoT tools can monitor vehicle downtime and operator behaviors. Smartphones and tablets are great for taking photos to record progress on tasks on-site. Tracking specific tasks can be a simple and effective tactic, as well. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Subcontractors can simply check in frequently on updates, allowing a productivity manager to track how long everything is taking.


One of the easiest ways to keep projects on schedule is simply to make good communication a top priority. Poor communication often leads to rework and delays that back up an entire project. General contractors can take steps to facilitate things throughout the entire project team, from the project manager to all the subcontractors. Work can proceed much more smoothly when everyone understands what is going on and has an open line of communication.


People who manage construction projects every day probably have a lot on their plates. Keeping things on schedule is a real challenge because there are so many elements to track. However, some key strategies can help general contractors minimize delays and setbacks.

About the Author

Emily Newton is an industrial writer who specializes in covering how technology is disrupting industrial sectors. She’s also the editor-in-chief of Revolutionized where she covers innovations in industry, construction, and more.