Applying Schedule Expertise to the Construction Industry during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Since 2017, Management Solutions has been analyzing construction contractor project schedules for one of the Western region’s United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) districts. This project utilizes our company’s long history of supporting USACE districts across the country with construction schedule development and analysis. Due to Management Solutions’ unique posture for schedule analysis, we can clearly observe that the COVID-19 pandemic is negatively affecting the construction industry with projects being put on hold, disruptions to supply chains, and fluctuations in resource availability. The legal ramifications are yet to be determined and claims for delays are inevitable.
Our scope on this project includes analysis of Primavera P6 baseline schedules, periodic schedule updates, time impact delays, and recovery schedules. Our deliverables evaluate compliance with all aspects of the government’s schedule requirements, including whether all mandatory tasks are represented, government activities are identified accurately, procurement sequences are realistic, and calendars are properly assigned for expected workdays and weather exclusion periods. If schedule delays occur, these written evaluations are necessary to maintain an accurate record of work, for purposes of facilitating the use of recovery schedules and valid time impact analysis, providing grounds for preventing future claims.
More importantly, in the case of a Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA) or a formal legal claim, the contractor’s schedules become the basis for their justification of delay. Promoting schedules that are both technically compliant and accurately reflect how the work will be executed benefits both our customer and the construction contractor because they become a reasonable source for calculating the time impact of each delay. Conversely, schedules that have weak integrity, such as open-ended logic and out of sequence activities, make it impossible to use this valuable tool as the basis for a time delay justification. Or worse, they are used to calculate a false time impact which could be to the detriment of either the owner or the contractor.
As part of our support on this project, our scheduling SMEs hold education sessions with the district’s project managers and engineers. These trainings expose them to many situational examples to provide education on how to apply the USACE Project Schedule specification in evaluation of their contractor’s submittals schedules. By compiling our findings over the years, we tailor these sessions to the issues most prevalent in their contractors’ schedules, such as missing scope, inaccurate cost loading, and lack of transparency with project status. These sessions empower our client to enforce the schedule requirements with each of their contractors.
As another option to support schedule compliance, we meet with the USACE project manager and their contractor to discuss methods of improving both the quality of their P6 schedule and its ability to accurately represent their current performance and remaining work scope. An opportunity to work through issues together, these open conversations help build trust between the contractor and their client. The strength of their relationship becomes increasingly important during situations like we are in today as projects continue to realize negative impacts and delays.
Projects that have established a reasonable threshold of quality with their schedules will undoubtedly be better positioned to negotiate time delay and cost impacts. Through our experience, Management Solutions has a proven ability to assist both construction project owners and contractors navigate schedule-related impacts of COVID-19.