In a previous article I discussed 10 mistakes that occur in construction schedules or programmes. (Read part 1) These mistakes could mean that the contractor is working to a schedule that is incorrect or unworkable and the project is likely to be completed late.
Here are a few more common errors to avoid:
- Making the program fit the client’s contractual dates without considering if it’s possible or how you will make it happen. Some contractors are eager to please the client or owner and will agree to contractual completion dates that are impossible. Careful planning needs to be done to see how the schedule can be made to fit the completion dates. If the dates are impossible the client needs to be advised. Sometimes it may be possible to give the client partial completions and access which may be sufficient for the client to continue their work.
- Not allowing for statutory holidays. These holidays can impact the project as workers usually have to be paid additional rates, and some services and suppliers may not be available during these times. Sometimes it is also more than the time lost directly because of the holidays – sometimes projects close a half day earlier the day before holidays, or in some areas there could be a tardy return of all workers which impacts production immediately after the holiday.
- Not considering the ground conditions. Excavating in rock can be a slow and difficult process and take much longer than excavating in soft material.
- Not getting the client to agree and accept the schedule in writing. The accepted contract schedule/programme will form the basis of delay and acceleration claims. Many clients delay accepting the schedule as it gives them time to issue drawings and get their ‘house in order’ before the contractor is able to lodge their claim
- The schedule doesn’t take into account the methodology of construction.
- No thought is given to the availability of materials or their rate of delivery.
- Safety isn’t considered. This is particularly a concern when cranes have to operate in close proximity to each other, or loads are lifted over working areas and where workers are working above work areas below.
- The movement of materials and equipment aren’t considered. Large heavy items may need to be installed before buildings can be closed-up and completed. The movement and handling of materials often causes bottlenecks with production – particularly with high-rise projects, congested sites or projects that are in difficult mountainous terrain such as power transmission lines, bridges, railway tracks, etc.
- The scheduler or planner accepts the first schedule they produce. It’s sometimes possible by varying sequencing to change the critical path items. By starting the project elsewhere or tackling it simultaneously from different points it may be possible to shorten the overall project duration. Small changes to a schedule can sometimes make significant changes to the project duration.
- The schedule allocates too many activities or trades to happen in an area at the same time. For instance it’s difficult and unproductive to have other trades working in a room where floor tiles are being laid.
The scheduler or planner should be experienced in preparing construction schedules. The project manager should ensure that the schedule takes into account the conditions on the project site, the available resources and the chosen methodologies. Where necessary the key subcontractors should be consulted to ensure that time allocated to their tasks is sufficient.
Preparing the best workable schedule is an art, a science and one that needs expertise and experience.
But of course even a good schedule is worthless if it’s not followed or isn’t updated correctly. But this is a discussion on its own which we will discuss in 2016.
What mistakes and pitfalls have you experienced with project schedules?
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