Project Schedules

One of the Key Tools to Reaching a Project’s Milestones

One area often overlooked during the development of a project and the selection of a contractor is the project schedule. Project schedules at the proposal phase often only consist of the anticipated award and anticipated completion dates and sometimes are simply the duration of calendar days. Unfortunately, this information does not properly convey to an Owner the whole story. The difference in contractor’s proposals, and often their price, is in the details of how they plan to meet the project schedule and whether or not they have the resources both necessary and planned to make it a reality.

A well-defined schedule at the proposal, or preliminary, the stage is much more simplistic than the final construction schedule, but it should be able to demonstrate such activities as contract award, permit drawing development and permit review times. It should also include such internal milestones as site mobilizations, foundation start, building enclosure, temporary occupancy, and final occupancy. Each of these dates is important ‘checkpoints’ along the way to make certain that the project is still on track. Too often, time is lost early in the project on delays in decision making, mismanagement of the material organization, approvals for procurement, or simply not staffing the project correctly to meet the schedule commitments. By tracking progress against these key internal milestones, the project team can work together to maintain the project objectives.

Successful project schedules take time to build and take into consideration input from all of the key stakeholders of the project, including major subcontractors and suppliers. By integrating this group into the scheduling team, the contractor is more likely to create a construction schedule that will resemble the final field progress. This process also enables each contractor to raise their concerns early and to resolve any coordination or staffing issues well before they are realized on the project site. This team then continues to meet periodically during the project to update the schedule progress, incorporate any Owner scope changes, and discuss if the overall schedule is still on target. By having a well-developed schedule, this level of communication becomes much easier and improves the likelihood of a successful project.

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