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There’s a word in the business world that we all dread. And it’s ‘delay’. Given that we work in a fast-moving dynamic environment, it’s just something businesses cannot afford. 

If you’re someone who often experiences delays in their work or their teams – know that you’re not alone. Delays are so common in today’s working culture that it is starting to become the norm. 

For a lot of teams, delivering work later in the evening that was supposed to be submitted before the first half is a common casualty. The PMI Pulse of the Profession survey stated that approximately 43% of completed tasks/projects exceed the discussed budget and 48% experienced delays and missed the initial deadline. 

The hidden impact of delays

“One day’s delay is another day’s lack of progress.” – Stuart Bowen

There can be multiple reasons for delays that vary from each other by a mile. From inaccurate client briefs to a lack of team members’ skills – it all leads to a single thing. Even natural causes can cause work to get delayed, remember the pandemic?! 

There are two types of delay. These can be grouped into pure delays and hiccups. Pure delays are typically due to task execution. They usually lead to extended conditions, increases in estimated cost/budget, etc. Hiccup delays are those that lead to a temporary halt in the task’s execution. They lead to rescheduling or re-sequencing of work from the initial plan. 

Delayed work can cause significant cost overruns and reworked schedules. Is that all? Actually, no, there’s a more to it. Even a delay by a single day leads to additional, unnecessary costs. 

Not to forget the direct impact on the business’s reputation. Delays experienced by one client/customer/project can reflect negatively on others too.


Common reasons for delay in work

Several aspects of work need special attention for team members to be able to finish them on time. Here are some common reasons why delay happens. We’ll further discuss how to overcome these hurdles and take your team to success. 

Poor planning

Poor planning and schedules are one of the main causes of delays in tasks. It’s unrealistic to expect a task to finish well if it doesn’t start well. Poorly planned task management results in chaotic schedules and poorly allocated resources. It further creates uncertainty around tasks making them difficult to accomplish. 

Team members do not have a clear picture of what is expected of them, and there is a sense of disconnection as the task lacks clear goals and direction. This can only mean that delays are inevitable.

But they are not. Adopting the right technology and following simple everyday work hygiene can help you plan your tasks better. 

Lack of clear communication

Good communication is the cornerstone of completing tasks on time. But many teams suffer from ignorance, lack of proper communication tools, and time and geographical differences.

If critical communication is overlooked, it can disrupt work processes and inevitably delay task execution.

According to David Grossman’s report, the cost of communication barriers stands at $62.4 million per year, per company. 

When communicating work, it is highly important to pay attention to what is to be done, how to do it, when it should be done, and what resources are required to get it done.

Unforeseen situations

A lot of times delay happens due to unforeseen circumstances. This might not be limited to a natural calamity like a storm. What if the team member responsible for the tasks falls sick? You cannot expect someone to work when they are unwell. 

So how do you overcome these situations? 

Ideally, it is best to add a few extra while assigning a deadline to tasks. Since you cannot always efficiently predict these upcoming hurdles, it is best to prepare for them well in advance. This way, if you do come across an undesirable surprise on your way – you would have the resources and information to move ahead of it. Similarly, assigning a team member who would substitute as the owner of the task in case of unforeseen circumstances will help you keep things going smoothly in someone’s absence. 

Procrastination by team members 

Procrastination can be the destroyer of one’s productivity. And is perhaps among the more difficult things to tackle. But you cannot avoid its possibility and must find ways to overcome it. 

To find the right solution, you need to know what you’re looking for. There can be various reasons for procrastination – work stress, unclear tasks, lack of resources, anxiety, poor work environment, etc. Overcoming each obstacle one by one will ensure that team members stay focused. You can also implement technology that will ensure that your team is on track and completely rule out the possibility of delay in work. 


Outdated technology

Technology plays an important role in today’s digital business world. And any business that isn’t making the most out of it, is falling behind. Businesses that continue with the traditional ways like excel, manual entry, and endless email threads, face many challenges along the way. 

Similarly, you can adapt tools that will enable you to reduce delays. Here are a few things that you would ideally look for in a tool to eliminate delays – 

  • Easy task delegation 
  • Clear communication 
  • Effective action tracking
  • Real-time updates 
  • Delay management 
  • Automattic reminders and updates 

Of course, you need to evaluate your team’s needs as they often differ. But adapting technology today is what your team essentially needs to eliminate team delays. 


It is surely possible to eliminate delays by implementing the right technology and following some guidelines in your everyday work. Here are some more quick tips –

  • Early identification of issues is essential to avoid delays. Tools can help you with real-time updates on the progress of all work. 
  • Define task ownership for even the smallest tasks. 
  • Keep transparency in data for quick and easy access. Documentation and data are resourceful for everyone on the team. 
Poorvi Naithani

Content Marketer

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