by Steve Pinnell, Principal

Importance of Scheduling
A good schedule will save time and extended overhead costs, avoid delays, eliminate most overtime, ensure a more efficient construction sequence, and substantiate claims for owner delays or impact. Scheduling software is helpful but will not guarantee a good schedule. Schedulers, including project managers and superintendents, need to master critical path scheduling (taught in an intensive one-day seminar). A working knowledge of the software and access to an expert will aid in special applications or resolving problems.
The project team is often too busy mobilizing and running the job to spend enough time on scheduling. Because they need to “own” the schedule, I advise using a scheduler to assist the project team in preparing their schedule. An expert will prevent staff wasting time struggling with software and the problems that occur when updating or trying to prove owner-caused delays.

Crew Chases
   Resource leveled schedules are desirable, but they are too much work for most projects. Instead, show “crew chases” by tracing major pieces of equipment (cranes, scraper fleet, etc.) and key labor crews from activity to activity. This prevents scheduling them for two places at the same time or leaving gaps which cause multiple mobilizations, lowered morale, and poor productivity.

Subcontractor Scheduling
To schedule your subcontractors: (1) prepare an initial schedule with all subcontract work; (2) get each subcontractor’s commitment to meet their dates; (3) save some float in the schedule for unexpected problems; (4) write your subcontracts to clearly define the subcontractors’ scheduling responsibilities; and (5) hold everyone (including your crews) to the agreed schedule.
If you are a subcontractor, schedule and resource load all of your projects on a master schedule at your home office. Otherwise, you may run short of work or become overcommitted, delay some projects, and be back charged.

Monthly Updates
Update your schedule every month: record actual start and finish dates, percent complete or days remaining of ongoing activities, delays or impact, and revisions if needed.

Short-Interval (Look-Ahead) Schedules
Tie your superintendent’s weekly short-interval schedules to the master schedule to avoid overlooking critical activities. Use an Excel™ spreadsheet or Microsoft Project™ to show actual progress for the previous two weeks, planned work for the next three weeks, and the previous month’s schedule activities below the activities for the current schedule.

Scheduling for Changes and Delay
Revise the schedule as changes occur or it will become inaccurate and unusable, which may preclude time extensions and compensation. Use fragnents (network diagrams of only the affected work) to identify and explain delays to the critical path.
Analyzing scheduling claims may require a Detailed As-Built Schedule. This schedule economically and quickly creates a very detailed and accurate as-built schedule from the basic job records (daily reports, correspondence, inspector’s logs, cost reports, and other record of progress, impacts, crew size, weather, etc.). Spreadsheet macros make this a relatively fast process. For details, visit our web site

Steve Pinnell has provided scheduling and claims expertise on over a thousand projects for several hundred contractors since 1975. He is the author of HOW TO GET PAID for Construction Changes. See our website for details.