Construction Scheduling. Do you have a Schedule or a CPM Schedule?

Is what you’ve created a CPM schedule? Or is it a schedule with dates and activity bars?

Can you tell the difference?

First, CPM stands for Critical Path Method and is kind of a general term often used for Precedence Diagram Method, PDM schedule development.

Almost any schedule developed, using one the many current scheduling software programs, will be created based on the precedence diagram method. Most of the current scheduling software programs are set up for that.

Creating the WBS structure or summary bars and adding activities that model the work for the project in these programs will produce a schedule.

But is this really a useful schedule? Or is it a list of activities with dates assigned through the use of incomplete logic and date constraints? We get a list of activities with planned dates. That’s all we need, right? Isn’t that a schedule…?

Not really. That may be useful for conveying the basic plan for future work. But this is not a dynamic CPM schedule that can be used to model future work based on current progress, produce a Longest Path, or model the impact added or delayed work may have on future completion dates for the project.

I run into this a lot. A PM or someone on the project team will create a schedule and assume it is a CPM schedule. There are a few requirements to meet before a schedule can be considered a true CPM schedule.

Listed below are the minimum requirements for a CPM schedule.  

  1. Calendars.            

For your schedule to be reasonably accurate, calendars need to be created to allow activities to have durations based on planned work periods. This usually requires the development and use of multiple calendars to account for various work periods such as 5-day 8-hour workweeks; 4-day 10-hour workweeks; workweeks with specific holidays set as non-workdays; anticipated non-workdays due to anticipated weather impacts….

  • Logic.

The only activity without a predecessor should be the first activity in the schedule. Usually NTP. The only activity without a successor should be the last activity, usually Project Complete or CCD… To be a true CPM schedule, all activity dates should be driven by the predecessor activities durations and logic. Having only all the predecessors assigned is not enough. There must be activities that are driven by the start or finish of a predecessor activity. If the activity in fact, does not drive the start of any work except the end of the project, then the successor should the last activity.

  • Constraints.

There are valid uses for date constraints in any schedule. However, overuse creates multiple interruptions to the forward and backward passes which determine float values. This produces snippets of paths based on the types of date constraints. Just using a constraint to set a planned start date for an activity is not a valid use of a date constraint. An interim date constraint should represent an external driving force for an activity or milestone or the contractually required date for a milestone. Limiting the use of date constraints allows the activity durations and activity relationships, (logic) to drive finish dates and produce a Longest Path to the finish of the project. This gives us the Critical Path for completion of the project.

  • Relationships and lags.

There valid reasons for using SS and/or FF relationships to model the planned sequencing of activities. But they should not be used in lieu of decomposing the work. Using SS and /or FF relationships should only be used to model work which will run concurrently even when the work is broken down to a reasonably small duration. Lags should not be used to model work or a waiting period. Lags are not transparent and using a lag with SS or FF relationships results in the work being modeled to start or finish based on a set time after the driving relationship has been satisfied, not on actual measurable work being complete to a specific point.

These are the most basic requirements for a CPM schedule.

The idea is to end up with a schedule that will model the impact actual progress to-date has on remaining scheduled activity dates. A CPM schedule can be used by the project team to proactively manage current schedule slippage, more accurately manage resources, and project finish dates and time-scaled cost flow.

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 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. Milestones and Constraints.

From time to time, I hear a project team member refer to a constraint when what they are actually referring to is a milestone.

This is really a “jargon” issue. I’ve heard people refer to a milestone with the intention of the milestone being a constraint on the project. I’ve heard people describe a project constraint as a schedule constraint.

It gets a bit confusing.

A PM may consider a required completion date of a phase of the project as a milestone. To a scheduler, this is an interim milestone and may or may not be date constrained, (Constrained with a schedule constraint assigned in the CPM schedule software program). If this milestone has a contractually required date, a scheduler may assign the appropriate date constraint. If the milestone is just for reporting purposes, the scheduler need only make sure the appropriate activities drive and are driven by the milestone activity.

A PM may refer to a project constraint, like the coordination with an owner delivery or requirement from outside of the project scope and control of the contractor. A scheduler will consider this an external constraint and may assign an appropriate date constraint. (If the date constraint would be a “start no earlier than”, I sometimes prefer to use a lag to NTP… I like to avoid the use of date constraints….).

A scheduler shouldn’t assign date constraints to every “milestone” or “constraint” referenced by the project team. The use of date constraints should be minimized and only applied when necessary.

The PM should understand that they may need to clarify when they really need a date constraint applied. The scheduler may not pick up on the requirement based on discussions among the project team.

The communication between the project team and the planner / scheduler is critical to the successful development and management of the project schedule. The different “jargon” we use can make this more difficult. We need to be aware of this and be sure to clarify when we’re unsure.

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 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. Including Inspection, Testing, and Commissioning Activities in the Construction CPM Schedule?

Are you including activities for the testing of equipment and systems, inspections for acceptance of systems and areas, and the commissioning of systems when you develop your baseline schedule?

People often focus on the “construction” activities when developing the schedule.

But the construction activities are only a part of the plan to execute the project. There are submittals and procurement, permits, and the closeout process.

One of the areas often overlooked is the inspection, testing, and commissioning process. There will be all kinds of inspections for the acceptance of specific work and entire systems. While it’s not a good idea to try and add all the specific installation inspections and tests that occur on an almost daily basis. We should include the inspections and tests for systems.

It makes sense to include an inspection and pre-operational test for the fire alarm system, fire suppression system, elevator, security system, electrical system, and mechanical system for a specific area or structure. There may be more for your specific project… Unfortunately, I see schedules that only have an activity at the end of the schedule named “commission” or “punch list inspection”. These activities are vague and can’t really address the need to test the systems individually and as necessary, in conjunction with each other. (Think Fire Alarm and Elevator or Fire Alarm and HVAC system zone controls).

Sometimes, the schedule specifications will include specific requirements for the inspection, testing and commissioning processes. Usually, the specification requirements are more general. Regardless, it is in the best interest of the project to include activities for these quality assurance activities in the schedule.

Not having a series of activities for the development, submittal, review, and approval of a fire alarm test plan or mechanical system commissioning plan creates a large risk for the schedule. While everyone may understand these plans are necessary and the testing is required before substantial completion can be obtained, many project teams don’t include the entire process in the project schedule. We also need the actual start-up and pre-operational inspection and testing work, the commissioning of the system, and the performance testing in the schedule. Depending on the size of the project and system, these may or may not occur at the same time. For a smaller renovation project, it’s not unreasonable to expect the inspection, testing and commissioning of a system will all happen at the same time over the course of a couple of days. On a larger more complex project, there may be a third-party commissioning agent and the system may be large and complex enough that the inspection and pre-operational testing will take several days with additional coordination with other systems.

Not including activities for this work will create a delay situation at the back end of the project, when you can least afford it.

We need to put a lot of effort into looking at the end of project QA and closeout work to make sure we include everything we need. If we do not have the time for this work allocated at the beginning of the project, we will certainly not have any room to execute this work at the end of the project.

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 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. Developing the Project Schedule Plan.

When you’re bidding a project, do you start developing a schedule plan? Or plan your schedule?

Before we ever start developing activities, we should plan the project, and this includes planning the schedule.

We need to determine how we plan to sequence the major portions of the work, establish required and preferential phases, break the project down into smaller deliverables based on area, CSI code, sub-contractor, type of activities – contract milestones, procurement, administrative activities…

This information is probably part of the cost proposal development process and provides us with the building blocks for developing the WBS.

We also need to have an idea of what type of activity calendars and coding we will need to use. The resources we will need to develop can be based on the subcontractor or CSI deliverable list.

As a CPM Schedule Consultant, I use this information to develop a schedule plan. I use this plan to develop the project WBS, activity coding, resources, and project calendars. I develop these before I ever start creating the activities for the schedule. Having the WBS developed helps ensure we have the entire scope of work in the schedule. Having the activity coding developed allows me to assign these items to the activities as I create the activities. This helps with filtering and sorting to assign hard and preferential logic and for reviewing work for specific resources or subcontractors for trade stacking and for reviewing specific areas for trade congestion. It’s just easier to assign the Responsibility and CSI activity coding along with assigning the resources. This saves time and avoids mistakes. Having the calendars developed helps with setting the original durations once we have all the logic assigned.

Planning the project as well as the schedule is the important first step in developing the project schedule.

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 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

CPM Consultants. How does the CPM Schedule Progress Update Process Work for the Project Owner? What should the Owner be Concerned with?

CP PertYou have an approved baseline project schedule, and now you are ready to receive the first periodic schedule progress update from your contractor. That is great, progress is good. You are sharing a valid tool with your contractor to proactively managing the project. But, you still need to monitor the actual work progress and ensure the contractor is realistically updating the progress and taking corrective action as necessary to maintain the project’s scheduled plan to execute the project. How do CPM consultants approach this task? Continue reading “CPM Consultants. How does the CPM Schedule Progress Update Process Work for the Project Owner? What should the Owner be Concerned with?”

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 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.


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 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 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 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.

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Paul Epperson CCM, PMP, PSP, PMI-SP