Mitigate construction risks: Top 10 tips and techniques

Top 10 tips and techniques to mitigate construction risks and ensure successful outcomes.

New solutions and mission-critical technology ensure construction projects are completed on time, completed within budget and completed in a way that mitigate construction risks.

Every construction project starts with clear plans to avoid delays, cost overruns, and mitigate construction risks. However, best-laid plans often go awry due to many unforeseen events; contractor errors, owner changes, raw materials cost overruns, and changes in market financing environments. The numerous and insidious ways that projects come off the cost rails are often not even a function of a miscalculation but the results of external events that can cause catastrophic cost over-runs and/ or significant delays in project completion.

1) Owner might push to make up for lost time though it is unrelated to the project. This acceleration of scheduling is rarely successful in making up for lost time. More often, it creates a cascading set of new and costly mistakes. 

2) Unanticipated external events force an unexpected change of plans which impacts financing options.  

3) Real-time labor and/ or supply chain shortages can catch project leaders and managers by surprise. This is especially true in the current cycle where shortages are severe post-pandemic. According to CNN, construction materials, such as lumber, have skyrocketed by 340% compared to last year and apply to most construction supplies like steel joists, insulation, and PVC piping. 

Effective job site management requires the ability to understand and respond appropriately to the severity of these delays by evaluating extenuating impacts and responsibly readjusting the timeline. Therefore, avoiding construction delays is not just a good management requirement but necessary to keep the project viable in the long term. 

Here are the top ten tips and techniques to keep a project on budget, on time, and on track. 

1. Create a risk mitigation plan 

The best project includes a detailed forecast of possible risk factors to proactively have a game plan to manage risks when they inevitably happen. Creating a risk mitigation plan is harder than it sounds because it must distinguish between minor risks versus risks that are most critical to a project (more on this in point #9 Critical Path Method Planning). To mitigate construction risks effectively, a risk mitigation plan must identify risks based on three factors; the likelihood of the risk occurring; the scope of the risk on the overall project, and the interdependencies of tasks. Examples of risks include supply chain risks, occupational risks affecting workers, and financial risks. 

Once the expanse of risks has been identified, a detailed risk mitigation plan can be developed. For instance, to mitigate supply chain risks, data from 3D digital scanning can provide a precise audit of locations ensuring the right amount of building materials are ordered. For occupational risks, clear communications and standardized processes will be key to reduce the impact of these risks. Financial risks are best mitigated with due diligence on all the financial aspects of a project such as labor costs, variances, and certifications.  

2. Improve process methods

Construction projects are inherently complex and thus are ripe for potential delays that are unavoidable. One risk that is most responsive to remediation is improving the project processes including project oversight. 

Standardizing the processes in a construction project and elevating the skills of the managers in process management can go a long way to minimize delays that jeopardizes the project schedule, and therefore to mitigate construction risks.

3. Data is at the heart of every successful project  

Detailed project plans require detailed and updated data as the foundation to keep the project moving forward smoothly. This is where technology can be invaluable as they are all powered by data. 

a. Project management platforms provide data to manage timetables and interdependencies (see Exhibit below). These are good options for construction project management to streamline project planning, forecast key milestones, understand critical independencies that can put a project at risk, and ultimately mitigate construction risks.

Exhibit A

b. 3D scanning can create precise data for project scoping and project management eliminating costly errors that could jeopardize completion dates at critical stages. 

Pre-Build Benefits:   

· Precise data for project scoping eliminating costly errors that could jeopardize completion date  

· Detailed, digital layouts to document what is on-site and what supplies are needed  

· Digital data to coordinate planning, avoiding downstream cost surprises 

Project Management during Construction Benefits: 

· 3D project snapshot to confirm the project is being built to spec as the project progresses

· Capture “As-Is” environment and dimensional spatial planning information to manage changing spaces and budgets

· Proactively spot diversions from specs that may cause cost overruns or delays 

c. Another important technology that can be utilized is document control software to keep all documents, reports, emails in one place where they can be easily accessed by anyone at any time. Not only does this provide a shared knowledge base but it can improve the efficiency of information gathering that can waste time. 

4. Assign clear roles and responsibilities

Construction projects have many stakeholders: owners, employees, contractors, architects, subcontractors, and project managers among others. It can become chaotic if clear roles and responsibilities are not established from the beginning. 

Without clarity around roles, critical tasks aren’t completed, decisions can be delayed and wasted procurement procedures can all create significant project delays. It’s best to document who has ownership for what functions so that as people come and go in a project – there are efficient business continuity processes that will ensure projects stay on track. 

With roles and responsibilities established, anticipating potential obstacles is a proactive way of giving the team the tools to respond quickly and effectively. It’s a key point to mitigate construction risks.

5. Establish clear communication at all points between key stakeholders 

Closely related to the above point, swift communication up and down the chain of command is vital. Communication delays can cause small issues to quickly spiral out of control making remediation much harder and often more costly. 

A good rule of thumb is that any change (even if it seems small) needs to be communicated. 

· If a timeline has been adjusted or expectations have been altered 

· If there is an unexpected delay in material deliveries 

· If there is a change in labor resources 

· If there is a weather event that can impact workflow or create a work stoppage

Maintaining a well-informed, multidisciplinary, competent communications plan is a vital element to ensuring a positive outcome for all involved. With open communications channels, teams can quickly diagnose, assess, and communicate the problem to all key stakeholders, and get to a resolution as quickly as possible. This practice pays off big dividends because it produces the fastest resolutions to allow the work to continue, and thus mitigate construction risks.

6. Stabilize materials and labor supply chain far in advance

Today’s construction landscape is far different than in previous years. Both building materials and labor are in short supply due to post-pandemic activity. As a result, this is one of the most important aspects of successful construction project management. To get this right, data is key to help avoid disastrous delays. Some ways to mitigate construction risks include 3D imaging that can take the guesswork out of the footprint of a site thus ensuring enough materials are ordered. Another way is Construction Estimating Software. Typically, these solutions streamline and improve the process of creating cost, material, and labor estimates for construction projects. 

7. Training new and old employees

To maintain project momentum, training is mission-critical. This includes everything from project initiation and onboarding through project completion. It also includes training for people who come into the project in the middle and knowledge transfer protocols when people leave. 

With best-in-class training practices, new processes can quickly be introduced, early warning indicators can quickly surface issues, and confidence that people are adhering to set procedures. Training is the ultimate safety net to ensure action plans are most effectively implemented. 

8. Constant quality assurance

The old adage, “Measure twice, cut once” is part of the bigger quality assurance discipline that construction projects need to succeed. With regular and consistent quality assurance processes, unexpected risks can be managed early on before they can become very expensive. 

This requires clear owner(s) to be in charge of checking for quality in a systematic and standardized way. This is another instance where project management software can be helpful with checklists and indicators suggesting an intervention is required. With excellent communication flows between onsite workers and project managers (Point # 5), the team can collaborate to resolve the issue in real-time when the costs are significantly less.

9. Critical Path Method Planning

Any project of any complexity will utilize the critical path method of planning. Unlike a standard work plan, the critical path method of scheduling lists key milestones and tasks that are mandatory for project completion. 

For instance, some tasks can be completed in parallel, while others but must occur sequentially. This is where the critical path planning can be extremely helpful to isolate functions that determine the critical path to completion so adjustments in resources can be effectively made. Not every issue is a show stopper but knowing which issues put the project at severe risk is an important aspect of the overall project plan.  

10. Know the legal scope and relationships of all parties. 

Related to point 4 above, “Assign clear roles and responsibilities”, this takes a deeper look at how the different stakeholders interact with each other on a contractual basis. This becomes an important part of the project as project delays are driven by entities that have no direct contractual relationship with each other yet have a profound impact on project consequences. 

Mapping those relationships and tying their scope to key project milestones is an essential risk management step. Contracts need to have remedies in place to accommodate delays caused by indirect participants. Some key factors to consider include:

· Precise scope definitions

· Defining performance compliance provisions

· Payment provision defining how/ when payments are made after proof of performance

· Project changes and Change Order Provisioning

· Indemnification Provision which protects against third-party claims that might arise during the course of the construction so the responsible party can be identified

It is often helpful to get legal expertise in this area so that, if necessary, a forensically accurate set of facts can be used by all parties in a dispute. 


A building construction project is, realistically speaking, a high-risk activity that must be managed holistically and at all stages, to avoid delays and cost overruns. By using tools, technologies, and techniques you can proactively prevent and/ or mitigate the impact of issues that occur in virtually every project. Yet should an overrun occur, with proper planning and management, the negative impacts of overruns can have little effect on the success of the overall project. 

ABOUT IFTI and PROvision 3D scanning solution 

IFTI®, a leading provider of Professional Solutions for the construction industry since 1997, including its flagship solution, Concrete Moisture Testing. IFTI has expanded its offering to include PROvision 3D Imaging solution to ensure construction projects are managed on time and to spec. Managing and mitigating cost delays is the mission of PROvision as the data in PROvision can save projects from cost overruns or delays in construction timelines.

Key features and applications of PROvision: 

·     3D “Mirror” of construction sites interior and exterior: The precision of 3D scanning provides an unparalleled view of every site in detail. With its 360- degree imagery, there is an accurate “virtual tour” available for planning and management.

·     3D data for alternate business applications: The dimensionally precise data is available to be utilized in various construction applications including CAD software used by architects, engineers, or construction managers to create precision drawings or illustrations.

·     3D scanning ensures projects are delivered as designed: Managing the construction process of new locations to ensure they are completed as designed is complicated if specs reflect outdated as-builts. With 3D scanning, spec data is captured to generate up-to-date as-built drawings that are accurate.

·     3D scanning can reduce the time to completion of projects: With 3D data, planning and scoping is accurate and precise accelerating decision-making. This reduces the time needed to complete projects.

·     3D dashboard for data management and collaboration: Each client gets its own portal and project management dashboard. This provides access to all departments, vendors, or contractors, making collaboration easier and more efficient compared to the manual processes of managing emails, drawings, and spreadsheets.

Contact: James Duffy | Vice President of Business Development 


Direct: 925.305.2906

HQ: 1390 Willow Pass Road, Suite 1010 | Concord, CA 94520   

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