Causes And Effects Of Delays in Projects

Project delay occurs when a project or part of the project is late as compared to the preplanned schedule. Project delay has serious effects. The cost of the project increases as the additional time required to finish the project will mean higher costs of labor and other time valued expenses. Depending on the delay, the client may require compensation for the delay plus the possible loss of the retention amount that the client had been retaining as a guarantee of the reliability and success of the project.  The delay may also have the effect of lost trust with the client, which may have the effect of possible loss of potential customers. There are many causes of project delay, among them communication breakdown between the involved departments, mismanagement and lack of proper planning and delays caused by other departments or individuals who are involved in the project. A research will be conducted, targeting different industries and different types of projects to analyze the effect of individual on the project delay. The research will be conducted within duration of 24 weeks.  Projects are mostly undertaken by a group or groups that make the project team. However the role of the individual cannot be underestimated as these teams are comprised of individuals. This research will address these issues, the effect and how this can be addressed to reduce the impact it may have on the project.

Aims and Purpose of the Research

The purpose of the research is to investigate the effect of an individual on project delays. The success of the project is dependent on each member of the team successfully playing their part in the project. This is more so if the individuals role is critical to the completion of the project leading to a critical delay in the project. There are phases of a project that if they stall, the whole project stalls. Individuals should take responsibility to ensure that they play their roles effectively because the whole project process is interdependent on each individual or group playing their roles. The research will be conducted with the objective of answering the following questions.

  • What is the effect of an individual on the project?
  • What are the possible causes of individually caused project delays?
  • Do the individual skills and experience have a part to play in the project delays?
  • What is the frequency of these types of delays?
  • Are they critical or not critical?
  • Are individually caused delays more prevalent with different types of projects?
  • Does the length of the projective matter?
  • Does the leadership style of the project manager have any effect or doest it play any part in causing this delays?
  • Were there any disagreements between the individual and administration
  • What can be done to prevent this?

Literature Review

The successful completion of a project depends on the cooperation of all the groups that make the project team and by extension the cooperation of the individuals that make the teams. The first step that a project manager should do after realizing there is a delay or a possible delays in the project would be to analyze how critical that activity is. If the activity is critical, s/he would need to strategize and analyze the effect and possible costs of getting an alternative to ensure that the project continues with minimal costs and effects. This analysis would need to address the cause of the delay, and whether the delay was expected and unexpected, preventable or unpreventable delays. Among the unpreventable causes is when the individual falls sick. These are important to ensure that the same is not repeated by any other member of the team (Brennan & D’Onforio, 2002).  The cause of the delay by the individual should be investigated as there are many reasons that would cause the delay.

The reasons may either be issues the individual does not have control over and which the individual cannot prevent, or they could be non-preventable delays. Preventable delays maybe as a result of lack of proper skills or understanding of the project requirement, individual’s wrong attitude towards the project, or personal problems that may affect the individual’s performance in general. In this case the project manager, with the help of the group leaders, will need to analyze the skills level. This research will analyze the relationship between an individual’s skill and the individually caused project delays.

An individual may intentionally cause a delay in the project. This will in most cases be done by a disgruntled employee who may decide to affect the smooth running of the project as a way for airing the grievances (Burnett, 1998). This possibility will need to be investigated and reasons for the disagreements will need to be sought so as to avoid a repeat in the future. This research will investigate the history of the individuals who have caused these delays and their relationships with their managers before the onset of the project.

The project manager will apply delay analysis which will give the results on why the project stalled. To get the best results the project manager will apply both prospective delay analysis methodology and retrospective delay analysis methodology. Prospective delay analysis will be applied to know the impact of the delay and the possible progress that the project will take to be complete. Retrospective delay analysis will be applied to analyze what actually happened to cause the delay of the project and how different it was from what had been predicted. This information of the methodology applied will be of helpful for the research as this would be important in analyzing the tread of individual related project delays.

Research design

One of the questions the research will address is to know the frequency of delays in projects. For the researcher will need historical data from various projects. The research will need to go deeper and analyze if the frequency of delays caused by an individual are more prevalent in one sector. Therefore the researcher will need to get a wide sample from various projects, and sample different industries including construction firms, computer software developers, and project managers in pharmaceutical companies, architects and designers. From these industries, sampling will be done, and those organizations that have had a project completed in the last five years will be chosen for the research (Gibson, 2003).

Internet is the cheapest and most convenient method of collecting historical data and this will be relied on especially in gathering information from any previous related researches on this topic.

Personal interviews were to be conducted in the initial stage of the research. The researcher will be conducting oral interviews with the personnel who were involved in the project and possibly interview individuals who have previously been involved in a project that had delays in its completion.  For oral interviews the research would only select an individual from each project from the sample. This is because interviews, though reliable as sources of data are time consuming. The researcher will use written questionnaires which will be sent to the project managers. The advantage with questionnaires is that they take less time as the researcher will send the same questions to different people. Where possible the questionnaires would be sent through emails, this would reduce the costs of printing the questionnaires and postage cost.

To make them more effective, there will be telephone calls to all the interviewees as a follow up on the questionnaires. The questionnaires will be addressed to project managers and to a minimum of two other members of these projects. This is to make this information more reliable.  The researcher will use both qualitative and quantitative research methods.  Qualitative data will be applied in order to understand the reasons why an individual would cause a delay in a project. Qualitative data will be used to get the number and the ratio of individual related project delays as compared to various other factors such as the experience, skills and the project manager’s leadership style.

Time table for the project

The research will take a minimum of twenty-two weeks and a maximum of twenty-five weeks. The interviewing was to be done within the eight weeks of the research project. This would be followed up by sending questionnaires which would be sent after the first four weeks, meaning there would be a time overlap between the questionnaires and the interview after the fourth week (Myers, 2002). The interviews and questionnaires will be conducted by different members of the research team, thus the overlap.

The telephone follow ups on the questionnaires would start on week ten and is expected to end on week twelve. The next activity will be collecting this data from the interviewees and posting the same to the research data base. This activity will take two weeks after which the data will be analyzed. This data will again be verified either through email or postal mail. The analysis is expected to go up to week 18. The next activity will be data verification, through telephone calls and if possible oral interviews though to a smaller sample. The data will be compiled and stored in the research data base.

Expected Outcomes

One of the challenges that the researcher encountered was in collecting reliable data. There were no records of previous researches on this topic, which meant there was no comparable information with the results of the research. Another challenge was that the information gathered from the websites maybe biased and therefore unreliable. This was countered by further verification of the information and data collected from the internet, comparing information from several websites to make it more reliable (Robson, 2002). The research had finance constraints as the research took more resources than had been expected because there was serious need to double-check on the data that had been received as some of it was too contradictory to be relied on.


As projects continue to grow more significantly in business areas, it is important that more researches are conducted to analyze the problems that are faced in project management. This research will be helpful to the project managers and project engineers as the results will be used in more critical planning of a project. The role of an individual is important in a project and the results of this research will be of use to understand the effect of an individual in project delays. Further research should be conducted to confirm the findings in this research as well as answer the queries that have arisen from this research.

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