Schedule Analysis for Construction Projects

Jason Nowell
The old adage of 'failing to plan is planning to fail' is familiar to us all and particularly rings true in the construction industry.

A simple error in the planning of a project can cost a client thousands, if not millions, of pounds; therefore particular attention needs to be paid to the project and/or programme schedule to ensure such errors are avoided.

Schedule Analysis

Schedule analysis is a needed action to identify facts, anomalies, and issues that can exist through the project duration due to intentional or unintentional actions. It is used to verify compliance with the client’s contract specification, logical sequence between activities and overall schedule coherence.

The traditional approach to developing a schedule has the contractor/preferred bidder create it on their own; an analysis is usually implemented once the contractor has submitted the schedule to the client. This cumbersome process can start a back-and-forth due to separations of service, wasting valuable time and money from the outset.

Schedule analysis is a needed action to identify facts, anomalies, and issues that can exist through the project duration due to intentional or unintentional actions.

By introducing a collaborative approach, sitting down with the contractor/preferred bidder whilst the schedule is being developed, means negotiating and advising can happen simultaneously, ensuring it meets the client requirements and all anomalies are taken out of the schedule prior to submission to the client. This can guarantee the best deliverable and realistic schedule is created at inception.

It not only ensures that the client has the best possible chance of delivering on time and on budget, whether it is a project or a full programme of works, but it also gives them the opportunity to see if the works can be delivered earlier, saving time and money. In some instances, we’ve seen almost 12 months taken off the proposed completion date due to this collaborative working approach, saving clients millions of pounds in the process.

Key Elements

The key elements of schedule analysis are:

  • Ensuring realistic completion dates. It seems simple, but confirming that deadlines are achievable is one of the most important elements of schedule analysis. Identifying potential issues impacting project completion will ultimately effect profitability. Time IS money. Questioning the logic of the programme, the duration of works and the sequence in which those works are undertaken creates a properly planned and realistic schedule which allows for a timely, coordinated and efficient project execution.
  • Highlighting client-driven risks. Appropriate time needs to be built into programmes of work for activities that clients own. Too often time is underestimated for tasks such as sign offs, approvals and access dates, which all have a detrimental effect to the programme. Being realistic about lead times and timescales up front, during the programme development, means delays to the works can be avoided.
  • Highlighting project risks. As identified within client-driven risks, it is important to establish the overall project risks. Throughout the project there should be a focus regarding potential project risks to ensure that all known risk can be managed accordingly and the likelihood of these risks having an effect reduced.
  • Managing change. Analysing the schedule for potential changes, and understanding the likely effect of a change, is hugely beneficial to programmes of work. If you consider how much of the value of the programme relies on accuracy and efficiency, ensuring effective change management is in place is key to success. Programmes with effective change management in place are more likely to meet objectives, stay on schedule and stay on budget.

In Summary

Through a proactive look at the quality of the schedule, prior to subsequent forecasting, cost loading, and risk analysis you have a much higher chance of an on-time, on-budget project. Through a few key best practices and schedule improvements you’ll be able to develop a reliable project/programme forecast and successful completion time and again.

With the addition of analysing the schedule at period ends, identifying trends that can be acted on in a timely manner so reducing the risk of delay and claims, schedule analysis is adaptable enough to apply to any sector and any environment, and is a must-have for project and programme planning.