Article Date: 05/24/2013

Experts Suggest Ways to Address ‘Inadequate Scheduling’ in Construction Projects

By Steve Rizer


What are the key defenses against “inadequate scheduling,” a “game” that is intended to instill confusion or hide time-related issues? During a recent discussion of various games and defenses relating to baseline schedules -- as-planned schedules that typically are submitted by contractors soon after a notice to proceed is issued -- Navigant Consulting Inc. Managing Director Stephen Pitaniello provided several suggestions for addressing schedules whose lack of detail makes them inadequate.


To confront problems involving inadequate scheduling, “you need a detailed scheduling specification,” Pitaniello said. “Number one, it’s important that the owner provide the guidelines for the schedule expectations, not only about submission times but [about] what’s required in the schedule itself. If it’s not specified, and I think rightfully so, it would be deemed not important for the owner by the contractor….”


It is also “very important” for an owner to be aware of “the capability of its own staff to manage the scheduling requirements, whether it’s in-house resources or external,” Pitaniello said. It can prove quite beneficial for owners to establish contract terms and the roles and responsibilities related to scheduling for a given project “so that everyone can use this as a project-management tool.”


As far as detailed scheduling specifications are concerned, “one option would be to specify the minimum number of activities,” Pitaniello said, noting that one symptom of inadequate scheduling is the presence of “too few activities.”


Pitaniello acknowledged, though, that defining a minimum number of activities in a scheduling specification can be tricky. “It may be a little difficult for an owner to define the exact number of minimum activities because it’s not in control … of the resources, the subcontracting methodology, and how a given contractor will subcontract its work…. So, sometimes really what we’re talking about is maybe setting parameters and not absolutes in your specification.” Defining a minimum number of activities or parameters “in your scheduling specifications [can] ensure that you’re getting a relatively detailed schedule from the contractor.”


In describing the causes of inadequate scheduling, Navigant Construction Forum Executive Director Jim Zack pointed to the following specification, which he said resembles what the Engineers Joint Contract Documents Committee once used: “Prior to the start of construction, contractor shall submit a proposed schedule for the engineer’s review.” He told webinar attendees that “this language literally invites inadequate scheduling.”


Zack explained that inadequate scheduling makes analysis of delay and impacts “really difficult, if not impossible. [The game] denies the owner the opportunity to perform a detailed analysis to ascertain cause, effect, and responsibility for delay.”


Pitaniello, Zack, and Navigant Consulting Associate Director Emily Federico delivered their presentations during “Construction Scheduling Games People Play -- Revisited,” a three-part webinar series sponsored by WPL Publishing that collectively identified more than 15 scheduling games and offered more than 45 recommended defenses against such gamesmanship. Other games that they discussed involved a failure to provide a schedule, submittal review time, delivery dates for owner-furnished items, a failure to show procurement activities, phony early completion schedules, and other areas.


A recording of the series of three 90-minute webinars can be purchased via the following link:



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