FALLING BEHIND SCHEDULE IS A NORM IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY.
One of the core objectives of project management is to deliver projects within time; and it is not a luxury contractor to finish on time, a whole lot of money (liquidated damages) might be waiting for him down the line.
Sometimes liquidated damage is not the biggest problem, what if you are working on a project with a sensitive completion date, for example, a world cup stadium or another project that have political importance, finishing behind schedule impact could be even worse.
Through my interviews with a lot of planning engineers about how to respond to schedule slippages I get ONE classical immediate one-size-fits-all answer was (crashing and fast tracking)!
Here is what I believe the right way to think of resolving/absorbing slippages:
First, Calculate Slippage and allocate the delay responsibility: suppose your project is 60 days behind schedule, before doing anything you have to make sure that you are responsible for what you are recovering. What if the owner or the Engineer did something that disrupted the contractor’s performance?
Recovering others delays is called “Acceleration” and usually the contractors do not accelerate their project free of charge, even though it is done with the same techniques.
Second, carry out a CURRENT SITUATION ANALYSIS by considering the following:
- Specify critical and near critical activities.
- Check remaining activities’ logical relationships and remaining durations for ERRORS; YES, there would be a flawed logic ties or over-estimates of durations, the planner has to spot these errors.
- Review current subcontractors’ performance.
- Study upcoming subcontracts requirements and timing.
- Check long lead items status.
- Check weather forecasts during the upcoming period.
- Revisit project’s remaining scope to make sure nothing is overlooked.
- Check overall trades performances using a “Tipper (TPR) Report” TPR report measures the performance efficiency by calculating the ratio between actual duration and original durations (AD/PD), so for example, if you have an activity with AD of 10 days while it was planned to be done (OD) in 7 days the TPR ratio would be (10/7 = 1.4). The same calculation could be made to calculate the TPR ration for all trades and/or subcontractors performance. TPR should help you determine the trade that can help you recover better, for example, if Firefighting activities have TPR of 2 and the Mechanical TPR is 5, then, the firefighting can help you better. So if you need to decide which trade would be better to increase the resources, you should choose firefighting over mechanical.
- Define long activities and activities that have sub-processes.
- Find activities that was performed out-of-sequence.
- Specify soft logic that used to phase activities.
- Study current labor resources situation, do you have any shortages or surpluses? How about the productivity rates, is it good or needs enhancement?
- Review actual site traffic plan, is giving causing any disruption to labor/equipment movement within the different site areas?
- Review the construction method for delayed trades; can we do better without increasing costs? If the answer is no, how much is it going to cost us Vs the time saving?
Third, decide upon the recovery action….but be careful,
YOU HAVE TO START WORKING ON ACTION THAT WILL NOT COST THE PROJECT EXTRA MONEY.
Start working on the flawed durations and logical relationships, resolve the out-of-sequence logic ties, discuss if you subcontractors can perform better if you improved the payment terms, can you squeeze the duration of long activities, how about the lessons learnt from past performance would it help you perform better?, resolve all outstanding problems with labors, re-map the site traffic paths for better maneuvering……
After investigating and applying all possible FREE recovery actions, you will not be at the same point. You will notice that even if those actions could not help you absorb a big chunk of the total delay, your project plan shall in a better position than before.
Forth, start suggesting methods that imply extra cost, for example, offering incentives for higher production rates, add crews to critical tasks, use equipment with higher capacities….etc.
ANALYSING AND UNDERSTANDING THE PROJECT’S SITUATION AT THE TIME OF RECOVERY IS KEY FOR DECIDING WHAT TO DO.