Disruption vs. Delay: Analyzing the Effects on Your Project

Disruption vs Delay: Navigating the Path to Success

  • Disruption, distinct from delay, refers to instances where a contractor is unable to complete work activities within their originally planned costs. On the other hand, delays refer to situations where the contractor cannot finish the work within the initially intended timeframe. While delay claims capture the additional time and related costs due to reduced progress rates, disruption claims encompass the extra expenses incurred to complete the work.
  • It’s important to note that disruption and delay are not the same, although they might be connected. Contracts experiencing delays are likely to have also faced disruptions, often arising from the same events. Additionally, delay and disruption can influence each other, where disruption can lead to delays or vice versa. In such cases, the Society of Construction Law (SCL) suggests that a contractor might use a delay analysis to support a disruption claim.
  • Measuring delays typically involves a critical path analysis that focuses on key activities. However, this approach is insufficient for realistically assessing disruption since only a fraction of activities (20%) are usually on the critical path, while disruption can affect all activities.
  • Due to the distinct elements of disruption (cost) and delay (time), their effects should be evaluated separately using different analysis methods.

Since there are many components that are different from one another in terms of costing and time, the impact must undergo analysis independently. Not only that it must also employ various methods of differing analysis.


  • Disruption can be described as an interruption to the smooth and efficient progress of the work, resulting in additional costs due to underutilized labor or equipment. This interruption disrupts the contractor’s usual work methods, leading to reduced efficiency. Essentially, disruption is characterized by diminished productivity during work execution.

Disruption can be referred to as the imbalance in the regular as well as economic progress related to the work. This leads to add-on expenses in which labour as well as plant is not utilized in an optimum manner.  As a consequence, the normal mode of functioning of the contractor is upset thereby leading to a drop in efficiency. Hence, disruption is basically pertaining to drop in productivity in the implementation of the activities related to work.

  • When examining disruption, it’s crucial to differentiate between “production” and “productivity.” Production is measured in units of work output (e.g., square meters, cubic meters, etc.), while productivity is usually quantified as units of production per unit of effort. It can be expressed as output divided by input (e.g., square meters per man-hour) or input divided by output (e.g., man-hour per square meter).

At the time of analysis of disruption, it is vital to differentiate between productivity and production. While production can be described as a unit of work output, productivity on the other hand can be referred to as a measurement if units of production/unit of effort. In brief, it is the output which is divided by the input or m2 divided by man-hour. In another way, it can be written as man-hour/m2 or input divided by output.

  • Productivity loss occurs when a contractor fails to achieve the anticipated planned production rate, resulting in less output than planned for a given input. Disruption is the measure of the productivity loss between the contractor’s intended and actual production rates.

Loss in productivity takes place when a contractor does not achieve the rate of production that was pre-decided upon. Here, the contractor’s output is much lower than the output planned input per unit. Disruption, on the other hand is when we measure the productivity loss between what the contractor had planned as an output and what has actually been produced in the final stages.

  • Therefore, measuring disruption essentially equates to quantifying the loss of productivity. Organizations like the Society of Construction Law (SCL) and the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEI) offer techniques for measuring disruption, which will be further discussed in the upcoming article of this series.
  • As such, measurement of disruption is equivalent to the measurement if loss in p The Society of Construction Law (SCL) along with The Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEI) are the organizations that offer suggestions related to the techniques for the measurement of disruption.

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