This post was originally published on the RepOne blog.
CPM Schedules invariably become erroneous, despite best practices, when the rest of the team isn’t pulling their own weight. The integrity of the schedule may have nothing to do with why it became useless or meaningless, or as I like to say, a recorder more than a predictor of the critical path and progress. If the project is large and has multiple prime contractors, its schedule is all the more susceptible to deprecation.
“A CPM schedule ceases to achieve its intended purpose once it becomes a recorder, rather than a predictor.
Quite often, schedule failure is predictable. Even so, it may seem inevitable. However, for every obstacle to success, there is a solution, or workaround. Sometimes it’s bad medicine, and tough to take. It’s up to the scheduler to do everything he can to maintain the integrity of the project schedule. The foregoing is intended to highlight the most challenging obstacles to schedule success, and offer solutions.
Why Construction CPM Schedules Are Overlooked, Disregarded, Misunderstood And Deemed Useless.
1. Vote of No Confidence
Many construction professionals scoff at CPM schedules, perhaps as a response to past experiences, or more often, the vote of no confidence is merely intended to mask inexperience that would compromise one’s image.
Recognize that CPM is a science that is generally not well understood by non-schedulers. Ignore deconstructive criticism, or take it as an opportunity for a teaching moment.
2. Lapses in Reporting
So many contractors think they can get by with a baseline, and subsequently as few updates as possible. Perhaps they simply aren’t being compelled enough by the CM or owner.
Maintain your demand every month for proper update backup, even if it may not be forthcoming. Impress upon the contractor the importance of maintaining monthly updates, especially as it pertains to claims. Claims that have reporting gaps are more likely to be downgraded by reviewers.
3. Reporting Error and Omissions
Many contractors don’t maintain accurate records of their progress, and are forced to guess at actualized dates. Such guesswork may come back to haunt them if the owner has different dates. Others simply don’t follow basic instructions. Finally, believe only a CPM baseline is needed.
All of the above can be avoided with due diligence. Impress upon your client the importance of maintaining the schedule properly, if for no other reason than to be prepared in the event of a claim.
4. Lack of Leadership at The Executive Level
Despite their mighty MBAs, Engineering degrees, and exalted certifications, many big muckety-mucks never see a proper GANTT chart for the projects under their stewardship. They may consider themselves ‘bottom-line’ folks – as if that denoted CPM expertise. It doesn’t.
The scheduler will always be kept (by the GC or CM) as far removed as possible from project executives, because their untainted knowledge is a liability. Indeed, CPM executive briefs don’t seem to reach their intended audience before they are obsolete. These circumstances are out of the scheduler’s control.
As a project starts to lose traction, offer solutions, and request access to higher level team members who might help streamline the process, or facilitate recovery or mitigation schedules. I offer webex conferences to my clients because they seem to gain higher comprehension with the graphics and discussion format.
Not infrequently do GCs and CMs unduly skew progress reports to their advantage, or to obfuscate some other reality. They also will manipulate and seek to influence your reports to their liking, or tailored to the end-user. Finally, they may simply not issue your reports to the stakeholders.
For the first part, it’s your integrity on the line when you become aware of a discrepancy. You have to do what you feel is right, and let the reporter know. Insofar as the latter, there is nothing the scheduler can do to force the issue with stakeholders, or even induce him to publish your schedule, as he should.
Construction management team members who are ignorant of CPM can be detrimental to the process when they prove to be unwilling students – too proud to learn. They also lack technical and analytical insight. For example, as a project goes south, the schedule may be referred to as being “useless, obsolete,” or worse, as if the integrity of the schedule was contingent on its timeliness.
Again, you have to educate your audience as to the difference between projected progress, and actual progress, and how tha information is disseminated into a schedule update.
7. Lack of Intended Purpose
Many contractors think of the schedule has an unnecessary project requirement. A such, they plan only to go through the motions, giving the minimal effort, and making you work harder.
Remind the contractor that maintaining the schedule is like keeping any asset that improves in value, in proportion to its integrity, and that In the event that a disruption claim is considered, nothing short of a properly maintained schedule will suffice.
8. Ceding Project Control
CPM schedulers and estimators are project controllers. No one else, regardless of what their title is. Despite this fact, project managers often mistakenly try to micromanage schedule development, instead of facilitating it. In other words, they are taking ‘control’ of the ‘project’: which should be your job. The results are often disastrous.
Frequent, but gentle reminders usually induce project managers to be more CPM friendly. Let them know when they cross the line, or when they think outside the box, and endeavor to educate them as to best practices.
Many schedule reviewers delight in rejecting your schedule submittal. Sometimes as a matter of legal posturing: i.e., they believe that in rejecting any given schedule they gain some contractual leverage by deeming the contractor non-compliant.
If your schedule integrity is intact, and you have jumped through all the hoops in the specifications, it simply isn’t appropriate for a reviewer to outright reject a schedule based on menial technicalities, or demand a recovery schedule, when there are compensable delays.
If this is the pattern, you have to realize that the reviewer is sandbagging for your disruption claim. It may even be to your detriment to issue a recovery schedule or pre-emptive claim schedule – tipping your hand. Indeed, it may be better to discontinue publishing updates – protecting your client. That’s right: I said “stop publishing updates”: or rather, you issue them to your contractor, and he withholds them from a contentious reviewer until such time as an impartial reviewer can be installed.
10. Willful Negligence
You can lead a horse to water … a contractor may have no intention of maintaining the schedule from the get-go. This condition is one that the scheduler can do little to change, other than be persuasive in the best way he thinks he can without ostracizing his client. Besides, perhaps no one at the executive level will object to the absence of schedule updates and reports, as they don’t seem to understand, or review them in a timely manner.