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!

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Paul Epperson CCM, PMP, PSP, PMI-SP