One way Contractors can cause themselves difficulty with claims is by not being completely truthful in progress reports to the Employer’s team.

It can be tempting to report good news and an inexpert Consultant may even believe such reports because good news will save them work.

The problem with this is that even if the Contractor is entitled to an extension of time, it will be difficult for him to later ask the Employer’s team for that entitlement after repeatedly denying there was any delay to the completion date.

Progress update, as-built programme, or updated programme – whatever you call it, it is created by using the latest agreed programme, converting the planned start and finish dates and the percentage progress for any activity started but not finished to actual dates up to the data-date of the update. The logic contained in the programme and the programming software will then predict the completion date based on progress to date.

Before specialising in contractual matters and claims, I was a project manager for both Contractors and Consultants. The only thing I wanted from project update reports was accuracy.

Updates that predicted early or on-time completion let me know we were doing okay. Updates that predicted a delay meant I needed the planners to tell me the cause(s) of the delay so that we could take action.

For delays either caused by us or due to something that was our responsibility under the contract, we had to make an effort to recover the delay – work longer hours, mobilise additional resources or mitigate delays caused by a supplier or subcontractor.

On the other hand, if the Employer caused the delay or it was something considered Employer’s risk under the contract, then we needed to identify it, ensure that we submitted the necessary notices, and make preparations to submit a claim.

So, what would I report to the Employer’s team in our monthly progress reports under such circumstances? Quite simply: the truth.

Many Contractors disagree with this approach. They are reluctant to tell the Employer’s team that the project will be delayed for any reason at all. If the Contractor admits to his own delays but explains the steps that he is taking to mitigate, then the Employer’s team will usually accept that delays happen and that the Contractor is working to manage them.

Telling the Employer’s team that the cause of the predicted delay gives the Contractor the right to an extension of time will only support subsequent claims.

Of course, this only works if the Contractor is not going to just bury his head in the sand and hope that the delay will go away. (It won’t.) The Contractor must take mitigating action to recover his own delays or ensure that the necessary notices are sent and a claim must be submitted without undue delay.

So, what is the alternative to telling the Employer’s team the truth? Unfortunately, what many Contractor’s do is manipulate the forecasted parts of the programme so that it no longer predicts a delayed completion date, thereby avoiding giving the Employer’s team any bad news.

However, this automatic response is not sustainable through many progress updates and will not support any legitimate claims for extensions of time.

Should your progress report be fact or fiction? I will leave you to decide the best way.

This blog was written by ICCP Executive Officer and Fellow, Andy Hewitt

If you would like to learn more about claims, check out our training partner, Claims Class.

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