This article started out as a review of a schedule specification clause in a recently updated standard form document. In the process of getting comments on the form from the author’s local contacts, I received instead a range of comments on the use, or non-use, of schedules, and blaming specs for being either too detailed or non-existent. As a reader of ConstructionPro Week, you may have noticed we often advocate for active use of schedules on construction projects. Larger and more complex projects can benefit from the use of critical path method (CPM) scheduling software.
This past December, the ConsensusDocs coalition announced updates to more than a dozen of its standard form contracts, some released this past December and others in early 2017 (see ConstructionPro Week Vol. 5 – Issue 48, 12/16/2017). ConsensusDocs® 200, Standard Agreement and General Conditions Between Owner and Constructor received an important update to the project schedule clause. Article 6.2, Schedule of the Work, now requires the use of critical path method (CPM) scheduling concepts, including “… (a) a graphical representation of all activities and events, including float values that will affect the critical path of the Work, and (b) identifies dates that are critical to ensure the timely and orderly completion of the Work.” While many schedulers may protest that this language may not conform to traditional CPM definitions, the language was intended to be generic and flexible, according to Brian Perlberg, AGC Senior Counsel for Construction Law and Contracts and ConsensusDocs Executive Director & Counsel.
From our perspective at the ConstructionPro Network, this is a step in the right direction. Scheduling is key to successful projects. Several studies over the years have shown that projects that proactively use CPM schedules show a higher percentage of successful completion than those that do not. The reason for this is simple – a CPM schedule is in effect a planning tool that allows the user to model the sequence and duration of activities required to complete the project. When bringing in subcontractors and other members of the team, it helps even more as the various parties can collaborate to optimize the use of work space, determine the best crew flows and uncover potential risks and bottlenecks.
The second ConsensusDocs document to get the new schedule specification is ConsensusDocs 500 Owner & Construction Manager Agreement (GMP with Preconstruction Services Option). The Design-Build documents (410 and 415), which have not received the CPM specifications, have made a new distinction between the "construction" schedule and the overall "project" schedule to make sure the design and construction phases are separately managed and coordinated.
Public contracts have included detailed CPM schedule specs for years, including use for progress payments and for support of time extension requests. While some specifications may be overly detailed in requirements and use of specific software programs, the importance of CPM schedules is well recognized and public agencies have no intention of removing them. In addition, construction case law has well established the use of CPM schedules for support of delay claims, with the strongest support attained when the schedules involved were updated each month and actually used to manage the project.
Let us know your opinion on the matter, and please feel free to share your experiences with CPM schedule specs.