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.
- They need the data date, (as-of date) for the update. (This is probably specified in the contract documents).
- 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).
- They need the actual finish date for each activity completed. (Again – Daily Reports)
- 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).
- 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.
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Paul Epperson CCM, PMP, PSP, PMI-SP