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.

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Paul Epperson CCM, PMP, PSP, PMI-SP