Construction Scheduling. Schedule Revisions and the Reality Check.

When we finish updating Actual Progress for the Schedule Update, (See previous post), how do we revise the schedule to maintain the contract completion date or whatever period of performance is required?

How do we get the Project Schedule back on-track?

More often than not, the Schedule Update models actual performance which does not support an on-time project completion. Work slips, production isn’t what was planned, deliveries are late…..

The Project Team usually has to make Schedule Revisions to “recover” the lost time. This is sometimes called “crashing” the schedule.

This is an exercise based in future failure.

When most schedules are developed, they are already overly optimistic because the Project Team had to “crash” the schedule to even create the Project Baseline Schedule. Once the work starts and progress slips, the work starts to stack. Even if the Critical path work is completed sufficiently to maintain the Critical Path, all the other work activities have to maintain or beat their dates. If not, that work pushes out and soon stacks up to double the resources necessary to complete the work later. If we couldn’t complete the work as-planned, why will we be able to complete it later, when we have fewer resources to work with? What is going to change?

Back to the Schedule Revision process. The process is basically looking at the current Critical Path and deciding which activity duration can be shortened cost-effectively or which logic for sequential activities can be changed to have them run concurrently, with a slight bit of lag time. Then the schedule is calculated again and this process is repeated until the schedule is “on-track”.

Unfortunately, this is also when contractors are pressured into completing work in less time than they may have budgeted or have the resources to support. But, this is often exactly what happens.

Now we have a schedule for the remaining project work which is most certainly impossible to execute. Sure, the owner will issue change orders which may provide some concurrent delay the contractor can attach their lack of progress to. But most likely, there will not be enough changes to cover all the time lost.

It is my opinion that the best thing the Project Team can do, is establish the most realistic expected Finish Date for incomplete work. This also applies to establishing the most realistic delay (lag) in concurrent work planned to recover time. If these revisions are not realistic, the contractor can’t support the shortened duration or additional resources necessary, then we are just kicking the proverbial can down the road.

We should, as Schedule Professionals, provide the “reality” of the project performance and the realistic plan to execute the remaining project work and let the Project Stakeholders know sooner than later that the project cannot, under the current cost or resource constraints maintain the contract completion date or period of performance.

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

I’d love to hear what you think!

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Paul Epperson CCM, PMP, PSP, PMI-SP