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Are Your

Projects at Risk?
10 Questions to Ask and
5 Tactics to Get Back on Track
Table of Contents
3 Introduction

4 An Industry Hesitant to Change

5 Why Paper Will No Longer Cut It

6 Top 10 Questions to Determine if Your Projects Are at Risk

12 5 Ways to Help Projects Stay on Track and on Budget

16 Conclusion

17 About Smartsheet


As construction projects continue to become increasingly complex, both in scope and number
of stakeholders involved, organizations must be able to scale their processes and operations to
maintain a competitive advantage and continue to win business. When one slip up can result
in millions of dollars in re-work, delays, and potential legal costs, it’s essential that your projects
are set up for success.

Despite these high stakes, a recent study found that construction

projects seemingly aren’t set up for success, as they continue to fail in
being on time and on budget. And, although 64% of those surveyed
said that their project management controls are either ‘optimized’ or
‘monitored,’ only 31% of projects came within 10% of budget and only
25% of projects came within 10% of original deadlines.

What is causing this huge gap between project management

controls and delivery success?

An Industry Hesitant to Change

In another report, consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that large capital projects
typically take 20% longer to finish and are up to 80% over budget.

The report states: “The [construction] industry has not yet embraced new digital technologies
that need up-front investment, even if the long-term benefits are significant.”

Many would argue that this choice to not embrace technology stems from the construction
industry’s traditionally conservative nature, and could be rooted in the following concerns:

• Cost and risk of adopting new technology seems too great

• Challenging change management - new technology would
force construction industry veterans out of their comfort HE
• Perceived time and effort associated with onboarding
: CH
their team and coordinating disparate tools ON

Why Paper Will No Longer Cut It

This resistance to technology results in much of the industry defaulting back to paper-based
construction management processes. This antiquated approach doesn’t support cross-team
collaboration, efficient document management, or real-time decision making.

Further, relying on paper results in the following issues:

• Delayed information sharing
• Stakeholders working from different versions of project files
• Inefficient data capture and inaccurate analysis
• Mismanaged, unorganized paper trails
• Time wasted on redundant, manual tasks

Even with the right technology, projects can have challenges and hiccups - it’s inevitable as
some issues can’t be avoided. But with smart planning and real-time information, these delays
and costs associated can be dramatically reduced.

Top 10 Questions to Determine if
Your Projects Are at Risk

Top 10 Questions to Determine
if Your Projects Are at Risk

One day late delivering a construction project can result in major costs. Ask yourself the
following questions to assess whether your projects are headed for costly delays.

1. Do you find out about issues as they happen?

Your ability to anticipate risk is essential to the success of your project.
However, when you lack a real-time view into work as it’s getting done, you
end up learning about issues as they happen or even after the fact - leading to
potential delays and increased costs.

2. Is there a lack of communication between field employees

and the office?
Status of work done in the field needs to be reported back to the office for
records and next-step decision making. When this communication is done
manually, significant time is lost both in physically delivering details, and
manually inputting records to the project tracking system.

Top 10 Questions to Determine
if Your Projects Are at Risk

3. Do you regularly uncover that documents are

incomplete or inaccurate?
Project admins are responsible for entering documents into their system,
checking document accuracy, and reporting on document status. When
admins receive documentation that is incomplete, they waste valuable time
tracking down the correct details.

4. Is information provided, gathered, and reported on

in a consistent format?
Without a consistent approach to managing project details, information
becomes varied and hinders your ability to verify project specifics
like inspections conducted, completed work, change order details,
documentation, and more.

Top 10 Questions to Determine
if Your Projects Are at Risk

5. Are you able to alert team members or stakeholders of

upcoming tasks and deadlines?
With multiple moving parts occuring at any given moment, it’s essential
that the right people are in the right place at the right time. If this
scheduling is done manually, it can lead to overlaps, rework, and
potential safety risks.

6. Do you have a way to track schedule progress in

Weekly progress meetings are a common way to keep all stakeholders up
to speed throughout any construction project. But when questions come
up or issues require that work be adjusted, you need a way to see the
impact to project schedules in real-time, at any given moment.

Top 10 Questions to Determine
if Your Projects Are at Risk

7. Do all stakeholders have access to project details

and status?
Large-scale construction projects require transparency and trust between
the stakeholders. True transparency means that you are able to provide
visibility to stakeholders, whether internal or external, at any given moment
so they can see how the project is progressing.

8. Are details spread across multiple tools -

email, Excel, paper?
When work is tracked across disparate tools communication becomes
siloed, making it difficult to track and manage the details. This results in
time spent consolidating information to ensure every aspect is accounted
for and can hinder your ability to quickly make decisions.

Top 10 Questions to Determine
if Your Projects Are at Risk

9. Do you have an audit trail or system of record?

Because project timeframes can range anywhere from one day to
five years, you need a system of record to document your every step.
Without one you may find yourself in hot water when it it’s closeout
time and there is a discrepancy between the plans and what was
actually built.

10. Are teams using the prescribed tools and processes?

Not only do you need consistent workflows in place, but you need to
ensure that your team actually uses the prescribed tools and processes.
Often construction organizations look to a clunky, rigid construction
management system, only to find that their team won’t use it.

5 Ways to Help Projects
Stay on Track and on Budget

5 Ways to Help Projects Stay on
Track and on Budget

Today’s construction managers must find ways to do more, faster. You can no longer stick to
static, disparate processes, held together by paper, email, and Excel. With the right tools and
processes in place, you can increase control and visibility and help ensure success.

Here are five ways to keep your projects on track and on budget.

1 Increase Control
Implement repeatable processes that everyone is
aware of to increase project success. With processes in
place, you’ll ensure that your team follows a consistent
workflow, so that they can quickly identify potential
issues before they occur.

5 Ways to Help Projects Stay on
Track and on Budget

2 Automate Work
Reduce manual effort with a tool that has built-in process
automation and dashboards to roll up all necessary documents,
status updates, and timelines. Ensure you have automated
alerts set to notify you and relevant team members as changes
occur, deadlines are approaching, or status is updated.

3 Keep Teams Connected

Enable field employees to submit site inspections, issues,
and updates right from the job site. By using their phone and
project specific forms, you can streamline communication
between the field and office, to dramatically reduce time spent
communicating details and ensure accurate data entry.

5 Ways to Help Projects Stay on
Track and on Budget

4 Create an Audit Trail

Generate a system of record and share it with everyone to
help your team and other stakeholders understand schedule
adjustments, decisions made, and milestones they should be
tracking to. This sets expectations up front, and provides a
baseline for discussion when your client requests changes that
impact scope.

5 Improve Transparency
Use a work management platform to create a single source of
project and process tracking, to keep work moving forward and
make sure everyone is in the loop. That way, no team member
is left behind, and no client is stuck in the dark.


With only one-third of all construction projects completed on time and on budget, it can feel
impossible to lead new projects to success. And with increasing project complexity, not having
consistent workflows in place can not only lead to increased costs per project, but also have
major impact on your ability to win new business.

The secret to construction project success is to understand the

potential inefficiencies and catch mishaps before they snowball
out of control. By embracing digital technologies that increase
consistency and improve visibility, you’ll find the long-term benefits
are well-worth the initial investment.

Want to learn more about how to keep your

construction projects on track and on budget?
Try Smartsheet for Construction

About Smartsheet

Organizations need a way to get work done, not just talk about it. Smartsheet is the best
way to plan, track, automate, and report on work, enabling you to move from idea to impact
- fast. Smartsheet cloud-based work management platform empowers collaboration, drives
better decision making, and accelerates innovation for over 70,000 brands in 190 countries,
including more than 50 percent of the Fortune 500. Named by Forbes as one of the world’s top
private cloud companies, Smartsheet complements existing enterprise investments by deeply
integrating with applications from Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, Atlassian, and many others.