How to Calculate Percent Delay

Providing timely service to customers is essential if any business is to be successful, whether the task is completing a construction project, making a delivery or filling a patron's order. Frequent delays translate into dissatisfied clients and a poor reputation. However, delays will occasionally occur.

You should calculate percent delay for those occasions when time schedules are not met. This measure can help you identify problems and assess how serious they are. This information will help you prevent future delays and keep them to a minimum when they do occur.

Delay Percentages: Meaning and Significance

Businesses allocate specific time periods for the completion of tasks. A simple example is a pizza restaurant that promises to deliver orders within 30 minutes. Scheduling may be more complex.

For instance, a major construction project may have several phases, each with its own completion date. A delay simply means that the promised service or product isn't ready on time. Percent delay means the amount of time delay expressed as a proportion of the allocated time. Thus, if it takes 45 minutes to deliver a pizza instead of the promised 30 minutes, this is a 50 percent delay.

Delays Can Be Costly

Delays tend to be costly. First, your business must bear the cost of tying up resources and labor for the excess time to complete the task. Delays create a poor impression in the minds of your customers.

Serious delays can leave clients short on needed supplies or even lead to project failure and lawsuits. If delays happen too often, your business can gain a reputation for poor customer service and unreliable performance.

Calculation of Delay Percentage

The calculation of percent delay is pretty straightforward. Before you begin, you must determine how much time is allocated to complete a project. You also need to know how long the task actually took to finish. Suppose one phase of a construction project is scheduled for completion in 60 days. However, the work isn't finished for 72 days.

To calculate the delay percentage, first subtract the allocated time from the actual time required for the work to find the delay. Then divide the delay time by the allocated time and multiply by 100 to express as a percentage. In this example, you have 72 days minus 60 days, resulting in a project delay of 12 days. Divide 12 days by 60 days and multiply by 100 to calculate the 20 project delay percentage.

Tracking delays in complex projects is particularly important for keeping a large project on track. Suppose you know that the first phase of a project took 72 days instead of the estimated 60. The project has three more phases remaining. By tracking and analyzing delays early on, you have an opportunity to allocate additional manpower and resources to make up the existing delay and bring the entire project to completion on time.

Causes of Project Delay

Business schedules may be disrupted for many reasons. A flat tire or traffic jam can result in a late delivery to a customer. Similarly, bad weather can cause a construction project delay. There is little a business can do to prevent this sort of delay except to include a cushion in its scheduling.

Other causes of completion delays can be anticipated and preventative measures can be taken. Sometimes it takes longer to obtain permits and satisfy other regulatory requirements than anticipated. One way to minimize this problem is to file applications with regulatory agencies early on.

Effect of Inadequate Planning

Another problem is inadequate planning that leads to unrealistically low time estimates. A client may request changes to a project at the last minute. Another cause of delays in completing a task occurs when the business has difficulty obtaining sufficient financing. Finally, it is vital that management exercise careful oversight or problems may arise and disrupt the planned schedule.

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About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, William Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about small business, finance and economics issues for publishers like Chron Small Business and Bizfluent.com. Adkins holds master's degrees in history of business and labor and in sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.