Schedule Consultants. What should a Project Owner Consider when Deciding which Planning and Schedule Consultant to Choose?

How does a project owner, working in an organization without an in-house planning and schedule professional, know what to look for in a planning and schedule consultant? You are going to trust this person to monitor and report on the contractor’s schedule development and updates and revisions for your project. How do you know which schedule consultant from the multitude of schedule consultants to choose?

Cost should definitely not be the deciding factor.

Cost is not indicative of the quality of service you will receive.

Should you go to a large multi-disciplined construction management (CM) firm or an independent expert (schedule consultants) in the field of scheduling?

If you have other work you need assistance with and the CM firm has the expertise to provide it, then it makes sense to use the CM firm, if you don’t mind the markup on the services. If all you need is assistance with the project’s schedule management, then it may be a better idea to go with the consultant.

There are many consultants providing schedule oversight and management services. Most are very good and it is really a matter of how comfortable you are with the individual. However, there are schedule consultants that specialize in software operation, but not so much in understanding construction sequencing and methodologies. It’s hard to find an old project or construction manager that became a scheduler. That would be the best, provided they learned all the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEi) and other industry best practices. Unfortunately, many of the old project and construction managers knew how to manage the project but didn’t understand how the schedule was developed or how to recognize the application of the AACEi and industry best practices in their schedules. If you can find a Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) Certified Construction Manager (CCM) or Project Management Institute (PMI) certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with an Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEi) Planning and Schedule Professional (PSP) certification or PMI-SP certification, you have found someone with proven project management and schedule development skills. This would be a great choice.

A few of the things you should consider when deciding which schedule consultants to use are:

  • Has the consultant scheduled or managed work similar to the project you need help with?
  • Has the consultant scheduled or managed projects of the size project you plan to have them help you with?
  • Does the consultant have the time to devote to the development phase of the planning and scheduling process?
  • Is the consultant approachable? Ethical? Going to look after your best interests?

Once you have decided on which consultant to go with, you will need to provide them with some contract information and will also want to be involved with the schedule review and analyzation process. This will help you understand what construction schedule consultants are looking at and why. Schedule consultants will analyze the software calculation settings, types of activities used, calendars, resource loading, use of lags, total float values and the reasons for anomalies, and many more detailed items that work behind the scenes in a critical path method (CPM) schedule. You really need to stay involved in order to understand what is being found and the impact it has on the schedule. Professional planning and schedule consultants will produce a report that lists any problems in the schedule construction or settings or approach that in their professional opinion is a concern which should be reviewed with the contractor. The schedule consultant does not want to cut corners or create strained relationships that will undermine the project team’s effectiveness. Listen to what they recommend. Schedule consultants only want to provide you with their analysis of the schedule, based on AACEi and industry best practice and your contract requirements.

Please visit https://conschmanservices.com to learn more about basic schedule concepts.

Please visit my LinkedIn account to learn more about me.

Please visit my “The Blue Book” ProView.

Paul Epperson CCM, PMP, PSP, PMI-SP

Scheduling Consultants. What will Scheduling Consultants Need from an Owner to Successfully Provide Schedule Support Services?

Schedule Practices
Schedule Practices

Now that you’ve engaged your planning and schedule professional, what will you need to provide this consultant for them to be able to successfully provide the schedule support services you need?

Before any schedule review can begin…..

First, they need to understand the project. To do this, they need to learn the basic scope of the project. They will need the IFB or RFP docs with addendums, the successful contractor’s proposal, the award documents (if the contract is already awarded), your reporting requirements or preferences, and a list of stakeholders.

They need to understand what the schedule requirements are for your specific project. (Hopefully, you require a critical path method (CPM) schedule with specific activity coding, calendar, schedule and calculation requirements). The schedule consultant needs to know what the successful contractor proposed and any exceptions they may have included. The schedule consultant needs to know what your reporting preferences are, in addition to whatever requirements you have provided. The schedule consultant needs to know who the project stakeholders are and how you want their reporting formatted, or if you want stakeholders getting reports directly from any scheduling consultants at all.

All planning and scheduling consultants must develop a basic idea of the project work breakdown structure (WBS) and organizational breakdown structure (OBS) the contractor will likely develop. This is basically an organized list of the project deliverables broken down into work packages and a list of individuals or companies from which to assign a responsible party for each package. This is necessary for the review of the contractor’s schedule development and validation that the entire project scope is included by the contractor.

Baseline Schedule Development….

The contractor will develop a preliminary or baseline schedule, (depending on the contract requirements…), and submit for your review. This needs to be forwarded to the schedule consultant immediately. Scheduling  consultants will review the WBS & OBS for completeness and organization. Scheduling consultants will then verify calendars have been set up and assigned. They will review resource and cost loading, (If these required by the contract). They will verify schedule and calculation settings meet the contract requirements. They will review several schedule metrics and develop review comments. Scheduling consultants will verify required milestones are included and review the use of activity constraints. Scheduling consultants will review the proposed work sequence for reasonableness. They will review activity durations for reasonableness and note anomalies. Scheduling consultants will verify the schedule period of performance meets the contract requirements. They will then create reports and review comments for your use.

The baseline development process may require a couple of passes to get to an acceptable project baseline schedule. Once this is completed, the schedule consultant will set up schedule performance metrics to use for measuring the contractor’s progress against the baseline and subsequent accepted schedule updates.

This will provide you with a project baseline schedule, (and hopefully it is a CPM baseline schedule), based on the contractor’s plan to execute the project, of which you can have confidence in. You can use this schedule with a high degree of confidence, (If you have a CPM schedule).

Managing Updates, revisions, change orders and recovery schedules…

The planning and schedule professional will be able to review periodic schedule updates provided by the contractor and compare the progress against the baseline schedule or the most recently accepted update and identify delays in the contractors work and trends in work areas which could potentially delay work at a later date. They will do so by comparing the performance for the current period schedule update against the previously accepted schedule update and the baseline schedule and then analyzing changes the contractor makes to the schedule update. This is much easier if the contractor updates the schedule in a two-part process. First the contractor updates the progress only, with no revisions, and submits for review. This schedule will most likely include out-of-sequence work and total float values which are not acceptable. That’s fine, we only want to see what updating the progress did. Now the contractor can make schedule revisions as necessary to correct out-of-sequence work and model their plan to complete the remaining scheduled work. This is the schedule they will submit, and you will accept based on the review and comments of the schedule consultant.

If you need to make changes or additions to the contract, you will, of course, request pricing from the contractor and negotiate this additional work or change in scope. The contractor should also be including a request for additional contract time to incorporate this additional work or change in scope. Or they should be stating that no time extension is needed or requested. Prior to sending the contractor your request for change pricing, you should have your schedule consultant review the change and the potential impact to the currently accepted schedule. This involves the schedule consultant creating a “fragnet” or subnet of schedule activities to model the change order work and inserting it into the most recently accepted schedule to analyze the impact to this schedule. (This is the same as having an owner’s independent estimate completed prior to receiving the change order proposal from the contractor). The schedule consultant will then compare the contractors request for time to the estimate created and develop a contemporaneous Time Impact Analysis. This is the best way to manage potential time extension claims. Address them now and get them negotiated as part of the current change order. The schedule consultant will review the contractor’s “fragnet” for reasonableness and report on the impact to the project’s current critical path. This is what determines the change in contract duration, (if you have a CPM schedule).

If your contractor falls behind in their progress, based on the most current accepted schedule, you will most likely require them to develop and submit a recovery schedule. This schedule will need to be reviewed by your schedule consultant and also be accompanied by a narrative defining how the contractor plans to implement the recovery. Be it through additional work hours, an increase in resources, and prefabrication of assemblies…… The schedule consultant will look at the plan for recovery and compare proposed durations against historical project performance and production rates and verify the plan meets the required finish date. You will want to be involved in this review. If it cannot be determined that the contractor can actually implement the plan for recovery or the contractor’s plan is just not reasonable, there needs to be a discussion with the contractor. Your schedule consultant can provide this analysis and reporting to support your discussion.

Summary

The owner absolutely needs a planning and schedule professional on their team to act as their advocate for the project schedule development and management. Not using professional planning and scheduling consultants  is kind of like just accepting any price proposal the contractor provides with a change order request or any periodic invoice amount the contractor submits without any verification of validity by a competent team member. You would not follow a process like that for cost management. Unless you have a competent team member to validate all schedule actions, you’re not really managing your project schedule…..

I realize this is a simplistic view of the entire schedule oversight process. This is intended for use by small CMa’s and owners that do not have a planning and schedule professional on their team or completely understand the necessity of CPM schedule and professional schedule oversight.

Please visit https://conschmanservices.com to learn more about basic schedule concepts.

Please visit my LinkedIn account to learn more about me.

Paul Epperson CCM, PMP, PSP, PMI-SP

Scheduling Consultant. Why would a Project Owner need a Professional Planning and Scheduling Consultant? Isn’t the Contractor Responsible for the Schedule?

It is surprising that many project owners don’t obtain any assistance with managing the general contractors’ schedule. They have PM’s on staff who look at the Gantt Charts and perhaps ask about milestone completion dates or basic duration or logic details. Universities, financial and medical groups usually employ a Construction Manager as Agent (CMa) to help with very large projects; other times they choose CM at Risk as the project delivery vehicle. Only they don’t have anyone as their schedule advocate after the project goes to construction. Or if they have medium and small projects, they don’t employ any CM assistance with at all.

The Gantt Chart is not much value to the owner if they don’t know how the schedule settings and calendars and logic are set up. Most PM’s on the owner’s team don’t have the background, training or experience to look at the schedule and check these. They really need someone to help them review the schedule development and update process to work as their advocate. That someone is a Professional Planning and Scheduling Consultant.

Without having the ability to open the schedule and analyze the settings and data, the owner has no way of validating the schedule as presented. While contractors don’t intentionally produce schedules that do not meet the contract requirements, it happens all too often. The only way to know is to have the training, experience and ability to analyze the schedule file.

The owner really needs to know what the schedule calculations are set for. Is it retained logic or progress override? How is the “critical” path determined? By longest path or a total float value? Are calendars established, and if so are they assigned to activities? What type of percent complete is selected? What type of activities are in use? Are there lags in use? All of these settings and selections impact how the schedule calculates. The owner should have specified requirements for these, and other items. The owner also needs to be able to check these.

The contract typically requires the use of a minimal set of activity codes. If it does not, the contractor should include at least a few activity codes for their own use. There is no reason the owner can’t use these activity codes to help group, filter and sort the schedule activities for their own use in analyzing the schedule for resource usage, area congestion, and activities specifically coded to the owner for responsibility. The owner can always request this from the contractor, but why shouldn’t the owner be capable of performing these tasks? Even if it is through the use of a professional scheduling consultant. That way they know exactly what the filter, layout, and grouping is set for.

And finally, why can’t the owner use the most recent update to run “what if” scenarios? Perhaps, in addition to creating a preliminary cost estimate for a potential change order, the owner creates a draft fragnet and adds it to the schedule to see what the potential time impact could be? This would certainly help with documenting and supporting the business decision to issue a request for proposal for a change order. How many times has an owner issued a request for proposal only to determine the price or schedule impact is too great after the contractor develops their proposal with time and cost included? This just wastes the contractor’s resources, often results in the contractor holding the start of the work being changed to prevent rework, and allows the owner more control over the project’s change management.

This is a simplified version of the topic of owners using a scheduling consultant or CMa services for schedule oversight and intended only to create thought and discussion of the issues surrounding this topic. Many owners aren’t aware of the benefits which having the ability to really analyze the schedule will provide. They have gotten by with looking at Gantt Charts so far, why should they change now?

Please visit https://conschmanservices.com to learn more about basic schedule concepts.

Please visit my LinkedIn account to learn more about me.

Please visit my “The Blue Book” ProView.

Paul Epperson CCM, PMP, PSP, PMI-SP

Schedule Management. Why should a General Contractor invest in the use of Critical Path Method, (CPM) Scheduling when they have gotten by with “Schedule by Date” bar charts for so long?

Many contractors I’ve worked with in my role as a planning and schedule professional consultant, had been developing their schedules in-house using their Project Managers, (PM’s) or Superintendents. Who better knows the project requirements! They had been using the basic functions of a simple schedule program and had been setting “milestone dates” for the completion of major pieces of the work. They used some logic, but not complete logic. They inadvertently set constrained dates for most of the activities. They let the program use the default calendar, whatever that was. They did not do any coding. They did not have a schedule driven by the durations and relationships of the work. They also did not have a schedule management process.

Basically, they had a list of tasks and milestone goals and they managed their work to that plan. They made adjustments to the dates and progress as they went along, and believed they were managing the schedule and the project. If it isn’t broke don’t fix it, right?

This is definitely not schedule management!

Why not, at the very least, consider what stepping up to CPM scheduling could do for your project control and management?

If your project team is encouraged to learn more about Critical path Method, (CPM) scheduling, it will only help them see ways they can better manage their work. My most recent client, (like most of my clients), considered going through the SOW to verify all work was in the schedule to be very familiar. But they enjoyed the intensive exercise of building all the activities to support the execution of each piece of the project and then adding the relationships to “plan” how the work will be sequenced. They always remark that it makes them look at the project differently. They like how developing the complete logic for the schedule forces them and other project team members to really think about how the coordination of the various trades and deliveries and sequential logic for the submission/deliver/construct sequences impacted other areas they had not considered. They also enjoy having more direct control over their execution plan and having the ability to easily see when work is slipping, and which corrective actions will actually help maintain the project completion date.

Having the control over their planning and scheduling of the project has given these PM’s and Superintendents and their project teams much greater control over the project execution and their ability to proactively manage their work. It’s much better to proactively manage potential issues than spend your time putting out the fires that aren’t apparent until that specific trade is at a log jam in the work flow.

These PM’s and Superintendents don’t have the time to learn a new skill set specific to planning and scheduling. They already understand how logic works and how the activity relationships affect the sequencing of the work. What they don’t have is the specialized training and experience to understand how the calendars, resource assignments, and schedule calculation options work behind the scenes to deliver the schedule model they need. That is why they need the assistance of a planning and schedule professional to work with them as a schedule consultant to develop and manage the schedule. A good schedule consultant will work with your project team to model the project and set the calendars, resources and schedule calculations settings specific to your project. This relieves your project team of the burden of trying to make a software program they are not experts with work to fit their contract requirements and provides you with an as-needed expert resource for this specific skill set.

Having the true CPM schedule will allow your project team to identify slippage or trends in a particular trade or in a specific area and model what corrective action is best for the mitigation of this event. No guess work, no just tell them to “get back on schedule”. Your project team can actually analyze which options will produce the most efficient use of resources and obtain the required result. This is an important part of the Schedule Management process.

It does however, require a good bit of up front work during the CPM schedule development phase, but this work actually helps to identify missing scope and helps with the initial coordination of your work forces. Owners are also held accountable with a CPM schedule. The schedule includes activities for all work or deliverables for which the owner is responsible. This allows them to better plan their involvement and allows you to better coordinate this work. A well-maintained CPM schedule is also critical for managing change orders and delays to work. Once both parties agree on how the additional work or delay should be inserted into the most current updated and accepted schedule, there isn’t much to negotiate. The schedule either supports the impact claim or it does not.

The bottom line is that there is no really good reason not to plan and schedule your work with a CPM schedule. It aids in the planning, scope validation, execution management and change order/delay management. If the schedule is also cost loaded, it makes invoicing easier as well. There is a reason almost all large general contractors and large projects require the use of CPM schedules. They work.

I recommend any general contractor not currently using CPM planning and scheduling for their projects, at least, talk to a planning and schedule professional. It can’t hurt and you might be surprised at how much using a CPM schedule approach and having a schedule management process will help your projects succeed.

Please visit https://conschmanservices.com to learn more about basic schedule concepts.

Please visit my LinkedIn account to learn more about me.

Please visit my “The Blue Book” ProView.

Paul Epperson CCM, PMP, PSP, PMI-SP

Construction Project Scheduling. How does the CPM Schedule Progress Update Process Work, and What Basic Information does the Schedule Consultant Need from the General Contractor to Accomplish the Schedule Progress Update?

You have an approved baseline project schedule and you are working your plan. That is great. You are utilizing a valid tool to proactively managing your project. But, you still need to monitor the actual work progress and take corrective action as necessary to maintain your scheduled plan to execute the project. This is an important part of the construction project scheduling process.

Best practice, for most projects, is to update the project schedule progress weekly. This allows you early identification of schedule slippage. Most contracts require monthly schedule updating and reporting to the owner or Construction Manager Agent, CMa. You should really do both. Complete weekly progress updates for your own use and provide monthly reporting as required.

What progress information do you need to provide the planning and schedule professional for the CPM schedule update process?

Before you begin the update process, the frequency of reporting and report requirements needs to be established and planned for in the CPM schedule development process. (Which is part of the master construction project scheduling process).

The planning and schedule professional will require several key pieces of information for each activity in order to properly update the schedule progress.

  1. They need the data date, (as-of date) for the update. (This is probably specified in the contract documents).
  2. They need the actual start date for each activity started. (This should be recorded in your daily reports by activity number. It makes it much easier to remember the information).
  3. They need the actual finish date for each activity completed. (Again – Daily Reports)
  4. They need the physical percent complete, (% of actual work accomplished) for each activity. (This is a judgment call based on measurable work completed. Like the number of windows installed against the total quantity required for the activity).
  5. They need the estimated finish date for any activity underway. (This is a judgment call based on production to date and expected production to complete).

These five simple pieces of information, when assigned to each activity, will allow your schedule consultant to produce a schedule which provides new calculated start and finish dates for all remaining work based on the relationships assigned during the CPM schedule development process and the progress to-date with the expected production rates of in-progress activities.

Note: It is a good idea to keep a copy of this updated only schedule for future reference.

This is a great time to analyze where you’re at on your schedule and look at any corrective action necessary to “get back on schedule”. But before you do this, you need to look at any work you’ve executed out-of-sequence to the plan. Perhaps you were able to start an activity prior to the completion of the activity’s predecessor.  That’s OK. You should make any schedule revisions necessary to correct any out-of-sequence logic so the schedule progress matches your as-built progress. This is a good practice and will help with any revisions you need to now make to get “back on schedule”.

Note: Rarely is the project “on schedule” after an update. At a minimum, there is likely to be out-of-sequence work even if you have maintained the scheduled finish date.

Now you can make revisions to your planned logic and/or durations to reflect your plan of execution for the remaining work. This should be based on actual, corrective action you intend to take. You need to provide this information to the planning and schedule professional. This will most likely be an iterative process you go through with your schedule consultant.

Once you’ve completed the revision process to “get back on schedule”, you have an updated schedule which can be submitted in support of your monthly invoicing or used in-house. If you contract requires your schedule to be cost loaded, you should verify the dollar values calculated for each period update match the physical percent complete, (actual work in place or whatever your contract requirements allow). Many contracts which require the project schedule to be cost loaded base the monthly invoicing on this value, rolled up for each activity.

This “schedule update” is the schedule any future work will be measured against for period performance measurement. (In addition to measuring against the most recent approved baseline schedule).  This is also the schedule any new change orders will be based on.

Note: It is imperative you maintain an accurate schedule throughout the project. Without an accurate updated CPM schedule, you will struggle to substantiate any delay claims or requests for time for change orders.

There is more detail which can be measured when updating the schedule progress such as units completed and labor hours expended. These are great to measure and track. But I consider these more advanced items than the typical small to medium size general contractor will have the resources to accurately forecast or manage on a daily basis.

Revising the schedule for delays or change orders is another topic. Developing the projects’ CPM baseline schedule and managing the periodic CPM schedule update process are basic building blocks of schedule management and the construction project scheduling process.

Please visit https://conschmanservices.com to learn more about basic schedule concepts.

Please visit my LinkedIn account to learn more about me.

Please visit my “The Blue Book” ProView.

Paul Epperson CCM, PMP, PSP, PMI-SP

Construction Scheduling Services. What will the Schedule Consultant Need from the General Contractor to Successfully Provide CPM Schedule Support Services?

Now that you’ve engaged your planning and CPM schedule professional, what will you need to provide this consultant for them to be able to successfully provide the construction CPM scheduling services you need?

The easy part….

First, they need to plan the basic schedule and sequencing of major work. To do this, they need to learn the basic scope of the project. They will need the IFB or RFP docs with addendums, your proposal docs, and a list of stakeholders. They need to understand what the schedule structure and quality requirements are for your specific project. Are there required milestones? What is the contract duration? Are there any interim milestones that may need to be constrained? Are specific calendars required? Is resource and cost loading required? Are there specific activity code requirements? The requirements vary greatly, and the scheduler has to start out with this information.

The planning and CPM schedule professional will develop a basic project work breakdown structure (WBS) and organizational breakdown structure (OBS). This is basically an organized list of the project deliverables broken down into work packages and a list of individuals or companies from which to assign a responsible party for each package. This is the basis for any resource assignments or responsibility activity code assignments.

You will need to work closely with the schedule consultant to assure the entire project scope is included in the WBS and all the stakeholders are included in the OBS. You can provide the sequencing of the work packages at this point. This will help with the activity logic developed later. This also a good time to assign any costs to the work packages. This can be distributed to the supporting activities once they’re developed.

At this point, you have a list of deliverables with the parties responsible for their delivery. Now it is time to add supporting activities.

Now for the hard part!

The planning and CPM schedule professional will be able to build out most of the supporting activities. But they will need continuous open communication with your project team to get the sequencing correct. A good schedule consultant can develop most of the hard logic, such as “develop submittal package-submit submittal package-review submittal package-approve submittal package” or “foundation before SOG before above slab work”. But there is also preferential logic that reflects the project team’s plan to execute the project. This must be provided by the project team. Remember, the planning and CPM schedule professional only models the execution plan. The plan is yours to communicate to the schedule consultant.

Note: If activity coding has not been assigned yet, now is the time. It is best to add the activity coding when developing the activities. It is useful for filtering and sorting the schedule for the “crashing” exercise.

Once all the activities and relationships are in place to support the work packages, you will need to work with the schedule consultant to help develop the activity durations and distribute work package costs across the activities, (if cost loading is required or desired). It is best if this information comes from the responsible parties. They also need to understand the logic for the work assigned to them and agree to the plan.

Now you have a schedule with all the work package deliverables, all the activities to support the work packages, and all the activity relationships and durations assigned to sequence the work as planned.

Now for the painful part!

Constraints have probably not been assigned yet. (I do not assign them until I’ve developed the full schedule). So, most likely, the finish date for the project schedule will not fall where you need it to. This is when you must sit down with the project team and the planning and schedule professional and work through the sequencing and durations to “crash” the schedule until the project duration meets the contract requirements. It is vital the responsible parties are involved in any reduction of duration or resequencing of work. You need them to “buy into” the finished plan.

Now is the time to analyze the schedule and prepare it for use and submission to the owner. Once approved, this schedule becomes the project baseline schedule. You will measure all progress against this schedule and track trends and slippage.  You now have a validated CPM schedule you can rely on to manage your project.

This is your critical path method, CPM schedule!

As you can see, you have a lot of input into the schedule development. You have a lot of responsibility too. Hiring a planning and CPM schedule professional is not a hire and forget it process. You will work closely with this consultant, so you need to trust them and be comfortable working with them.

If you utilize the planning and CPM schedule professional for the development of your project schedule, (as part of their construction scheduling services) you will start the project with a measurable project plan you can use to manage the execution of the project. This will allow you to spot problems early and develop the most efficient mitigation strategies.

Now all you have to do is follow the plan, update the progress periodically, and make adjustments to the remaining plan based on the actual progress each period. But this is another topic.

I have generalized the development process above for use by small to medium-sized general contractors without the planning and schedule resources in-house to develop and maintain project CPM schedules. There is much more which can be said about the process and there is also additional schedule risk analysis which can be utilized to identify schedule risk based on probability and more detailed labor, material & equipment loading to measure productivity rates and project shortfalls or trends. These are also topics for another day.

I’m sure many of you have comments or additional insight into this subject. Please share!

I’d love to hear what you think!

Please visit http://www.conschmanservices.com to learn more about Construction and Schedule Management Services, LLC

Please visit my LinkedIn account to learn more about me.

Please visit my “The Blue Book” ProView.

Paul Epperson CCM, PMP, PSP, PMI-SP

Construction Scheduling. What Should a General Contractor Consider when Deciding which Planning & CPM Scheduling Professional Consultant to Choose?

For a small general contractor or a project manager working for a medium size contractor, knowing what to look for in a planning and scheduling consultant can be overwhelming. You are going to trust this person to model your execution plan for your project. How do you know which construction scheduling consultant to choose?

Cost should definitely not be the deciding factor.

Cost is not indicative of the quality of the service you will receive.

Should you go to a large multi-disciplined construction management (CMa) firm or an independent expert (construction scheduling consultant) in the field of scheduling?

If you have other work you need assistance with and the CMa firm has the expertise to provide it, then it makes sense to use the CMa firm, if you don’t mind the markup on the services. If all you need is assistance with CPM schedule development and management, then it may be a better idea to go with the consultant.

There are many consultants providing CPM schedule development and management services. Most are very good and it is really a matter of how comfortable you are with the individual. However, there are schedule consultants that specialize in software operation, but not so much in understanding construction sequencing and CPM methodologies. It’s hard to find an old superintendent that became a scheduler. That would be the best, provided they learned all the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEi) and industry best practices. Unfortunately, many of the old superintendents knew how to build the project, but didn’t understand how the software worked or how to apply the AACEi and industry best practices when developing their CPM schedules. If you can find a Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) Certified Construction Manager (CCM) or Project Management Institute (PMI) certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with an Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEi) Planning and Schedule Professional (PSP) certification or PMI-SP certification, you have found someone with proven project management and CPM schedule development skills. This would be a great choice.

A few of the things you should consider when deciding which scheduling consultant to use are:

  • Has the consultant scheduled or managed work similar to the project you need help with?
  • Has the consultant worked with similar CPM schedule specifications? This can be a big deal if they have not….
  • Has the consultant scheduled or managed projects of the size project you plan to have them help you with?
  • Does the consultant have the time to devote to the development phase of the planning and scheduling process?
  • Is the consultant approachable? Ethical? Going to look after your best interests?

Once you have decided on which consultant to go with, you will need to provide them with a lot of information and will also have to be very involved with the schedule development. This is the only way to get a schedule that models your plan. If a consultant says they can build the schedule based solely on the contract docs, they will be building the project based on their interpretation of the project, not necessarily the way you planned or budgeted for. You really need to stay involved to maintain some control, but you also need to allow the planning and schedule professional to utilize best practices. The construction scheduling consultant does not want to cut corners or use techniques that will undermine the schedule’s validity. Listen to what they recommend. The schedule consultant only wants to provide you with a schedule based on AACEi and industry best practice.

I’m sure many of you have comments or additional insight into this subject. Please share!

I’d love to hear what you think!

Please visit https://conschmanservices.com to learn more about basic CPM schedule concepts.

Please visit my LinkedIn account to learn more about me.

Paul Epperson CCM, PMP, PSP, PMI-SP