Construction Scheduling. “All the Other Work” Progress Update Information for Owners.

As a continuation of my previous posts, I will continue to discuss some of the important progress update items we review and analyze.

I will now discuss the process of analyzing the actual performance of work NOT on the Critical and Near Critical Path(s).

When the contractor adds the actual Start and Finish Date and expected Finish Date data to the schedule update, the new scheduled completion date if most often not what any of us want. Usually, there has been slippage in work progress in an area that must be addressed.

This is most often caused by a lack of adequate progress for work on the Critical Path and/or the Near Critical Path(s).

However, we must not forget to monitor and address non-performance for work not on the Critical Path or Near Critical Path(s).

One of the reasons we work to make the schedule logic as complete and defined as possible is to allow the planned sequencing of finite work activities to drive the schedule. This provides a dynamic logic network for the planning and control of the project.

The result of all the work breakdown, resource allocation, and logic assignments produces multiple network “paths” through the schedule. The paths we’re always looking for is the Critical Path, and then the Near Critical Path(s). These are determined by the scheduling algorithm and have Total Float values based on this calculation.

But what about the “other” activities that are not Critical or Near Critical? They have higher Total Float values, so they can be done anytime as long as we don’t let them get Critical, right?

That is not a good idea. I believe it is best to complete the work, when you can; efficiently, of course. Letting the work push out because it is not “Critical” or has “Float” only sets the project up for failure.

If you’re cost or unit loading the schedule, you typically produce a Baseline Curve of some sort to plot the resource or cost spread over time. This curve is comprised of all the activities. Letting work slip pushes the curve and the required cost and resources out and this can quickly overwhelm the availability of resources to complete the work when it “stacks” up. Unfortunately, this is all too common.

Many Superintendents push their work everywhere, all the time, and for good reason. They learned early on that letting work slip will come back to haunt them.

The owner needs to monitor for work slippage. The project can easily show an on-time completion with the Critical Path looking very pretty. But, they should also be concerned with the Schedule Performance Indicator. This will show if work is pushing out because the projected curve will push out. Of course, we have to balance the work, so we maintain the curve and the Critical Path to achieve on-time completion, in the most cost-effective manner. This is another item the Owner’s scheduler should be analyzing and reporting on. We can list activities which did not start as planned, did not finish as planned or could have started but did not. We can also list activities which have started but made little or no progress. While there are going to be valid reasons for some work not starting, finishing or progressing as planned, the reasons should all be explained in the schedule update narrative provided by the contractor. They know the reasons and can best explain them. If they do not provide this information, the project team really needs to investigate and determine what is driving the slippage. It is much better to tackle this kind of problem early. It is rare that a project can recover if slippage continues very long at all.

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

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