Six Common Scheduling Mistakes That Cost Contractors Time and Money

The unpredictable and complex nature of construction leaves little room for seamless time management. Avoiding six common scheduling mistakes enables contractors to do what a construction company does best––build.
September 25, 2017

At the heart of every project management system is the control of time. In a perfect world, the project schedule runs smoothly and on course. But the unpredictable and complex nature of construction leaves little room for seamless time management.

Construction teams are constantly in a race against time to reach project targets and deadlines while working through the day-to-day challenges that arise with each new project. None of these challenges are ever the same and come with their own unique set of issues. It is no surprise then that if the schedule is not managed correctly it leads to mistakes, which can lead to a loss of productivity, rework and may even cost the company its reputation.

Six common scheduling mistakes continue to cost contractors time and money. Be proactive and avoid them in the first place to stay ahead of the game and have the extra time to do what a construction company does best—build.

1. Unrealistic Resource Projections

Every company has a set amount of unique resources available for a project. Problems and delays occur when schedules are set in place without considering available resources or with the unstated assumption that resources are unlimited. When creating a schedule, maintain a realistic sense of available resources. Critical resources can be properly utilized and allocated with this level of planning, and delays can be avoided that result from waiting for resources to become available.

2. Missing Dependencies

Within every construction schedule there is a logical order of dependencies. If not properly defined, missing dependencies can lead to more than just missed deadlines. It can lead to difficulties in arguing fault during litigation, arbitration or lawsuit. For example, wall foundations must be constructed before the walls themselves, and this must be properly represented on the schedule. Schedules should be thoroughly checked to ensure all dependencies are in the proper logical order to avoid delays.

3. Not Enough Details

A lack of dependencies can lead to a lack of detail. One way that project managers get rid of this stress is by providing a simplified high-level view of daily tasks. This is fine for providing insight at a glance, as long as more detail is available at a sub-task level. As the build progresses, details should be regularly added to the critical path and fully describe the required work.

4. Being Reactive, Rather than Proactive

Overseeing schedules isn’t suited for optimists. This is the sort of task that requires project managers to be proactive and to plan ahead. It’s important to understand that in construction, it’s not a matter of if, but when, things will go wrong.

Be proactive by planning and allocating extra funds or buffer time to handle the unknowns. Using this method, when a schedule is updated, the completion date is then justified according to the realistic project’s progression. This scope of reference makes it easier for owners to cope with added overhead.

5. Lack of Concurrency

Claims of concurrent delay are used as both a sword and a shield in fighting schedule delay claims. A contractor may use concurrency to defend against a claim for liquidated damages by an owner, while an owner may use it to ward off the contractor’s pursuit of delay costs. This grows out of the developing trend by courts and arbitration panels to require critical path analysis as defense against delay claims.

6. Ineffective Documentation

Concurrency leads to the need for proper, accurate and consistent documentation. Having an organized and integrated system of documents that spans all stages of construction could mean economic life or death. It also allows for decision makers to stay in the loop and make informed decisions that can prevent schedule delays from occurring. Inherent in today’s litigious nature of business is the need to document virtually every aspect of one’s activities. In delay disputes, the party with the best records has a great advantage.

A proactive schedule is one that is constantly adapting and evolving to serve each unique project. This means the team must also do the same to stay ahead of scheduling mistakes. Over time, this will become second nature, and instead of racing against time to meet project goals, the team will be welcoming deadlines.

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