For contractors who are vetting CPM scheduling consultants as well as those who undertake scheduling, there are some common pitfalls to avoid. Here is a look at the 5 biggest mistakes made in CPM construction scheduling:
#1 – Calling on middle management for scheduling responsibilities
Far too often scheduling responsibilities are delegated to middle management despite their lack of expertise and training. In an effort to slim down expenditure and avoid hiring a schedule specialist, general contractors may ask project managers to construct a construction schedule. These in-house schedules are invariably rejected and are often sent back to the drawing board. Not to mention that this bad habit often spirals into another – failing to have the schedule reviewed by a qualified professional. In an effort to avoid scrutiny, mid-level managers may sidestep a third-party review process, opting instead to move forward with a draft filled with flaws.
#2 – Inability to balance overlapping operations
Complex construction projects typically necessitate overlapping operations and aggressive deadlines require schedulers to envision a complex sequence of activities involving numerous trades. Orchestrating overlap however, is full of pitfalls. Too much overlap leads to congestions and declining productivity, while too little implies inefficiency. Executing the perfect balance not only requires conscientious CPM scheduling, it also demands the cooperation of all contracted teams.
#3 – Undervaluing field experience
The most successful CPM schedulers are those who immerse themselves in the hammer-swinging reality of the actual building effort. Construction schedulers with field experience are able to visualize the project in real time and command the respect of the contractors and their personnel. Schedulers without on-site experience should make a special effort to involve major trades in the development of the baseline schedule in order to provide this vital perspective.
#4 – Failure to effectively communicate with owners
The critical path method is confusing for many construction professionals, and may be entirely foreign to owners and investors. Presenting construction schedules in a user-friendly format is necessary in order for owners (and their associates) to provide educated opinions during the early stages of scheduling.
#5 – Underestimation of the submittal-approval process
Once the CPM schedule has been created and transmitted into an accessible format, it undergoes an approval process. Construction schedulers tend to severely underestimate the length of this submittal-approval process, which involves detailing, preparation, issuance of submittals & resubmittals. While project specifications typically contain review terms & conditions, inexperienced schedulers may miscalculate the time it takes to achieve full approval.