This post is the third in a series of discussions regarding various aspects of time management. More specifically, we have titled the series MANAGING RISK OF DELAY, since we focus heavily on the managerial aspects of program / project management. This post addresses some ideas regarding the time management baseline.
A Critical Path Management (CPM) plan and schedule (programme) is one of the most fundamental managerial tools used in professional project management. It reflects (hopefully) the intention of the lead or prime contractor regarding project execution. Further, it reflects (again, hopefully) the intentions of all key stakeholders, including the owner (owner, developer, employer).
Ideally, this meeting of the managerial minds can be achieved and documented through a schedule approval process. Again ideally, the detailed schedule would be developed in a timely fashion and submitted to the owner. Once revisions and improvements have been achieved, the owner would approve this tool. Once approved, this baseline schedule would form the as-planned schedule (or accepted programme, as termed in United Kingdom).
An issue arises when the contractor fails to submit a suitable schedule and/or the owner refuses to approve a suitable submission.
In one case, the contractor submitted a proposed CPM schedule; however it did not conform to the contract time provisions and requirements. The owner (rightfully, by most standards) refused to issue an approval. The parties then proceeded without resolution of this key baseline matter. Ultimately, when time-related disputes arose, the contractor was unable to demonstrate a cause and effect relationship under the contract provisions. This unfortunate situation precluded the contractor from prevailing on an otherwise legitimate time-related claim against the owner.
In another case, the contractor prepared and submitted a (seemingly) legitimate schedule in a timely manner. The owner replied with some comments and requests; but, failed to take action regarding approval or disapproval. The parties proceeded to use (essentially) the submitted schedule and updates for managerial purposes including replanning and resolution of issues. This platform provided the contractor a tool for use in preparing time-related claims.
Conclusions / Lessons Learned
The message and the conclusions regarding schedule submission and approval are summarized in the following recommendations:
- Contracts should contain clear requirements and process provisions that address schedule preparation and approval.
- The contract should contain a schedule specification or procedure.
- Contractors (regardless of contract provisions to this effect) need to prepare thoughtful and complete schedules with the intent being to gain a meeting of the minds through approval action by the owner.
- Owners should insist on and review the initial schedule submissions and ensure ultimately the parties converge on a clear position regarding the as-planned schedule.
- Lacking approval action by the owner, contractors should act to legitimize their intended as-planned, baseline schedule. Actions that tend to legitimize the intended (and submitted) schedule include: use for managerial purposes, use as a basis for updates and submit the updates, include updates in the periodic progress reports, and use the most current update for actions such as change requests and dispute resolution.
Time-Management Strategy is the higher level challenge. The Time-Management Strategy must be integrated with claims management strategy. More specifically, the time-related issues must be harmonized and synchronized with the claims strategy. Issues, such as Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and notice mechanisms, need strategy, process and procedural considerations. These KPI’s and notice factors are part of the time-management strategy. The specific strategy, process and procedures are driven by the project specifics.
Good luck and let us all attempt to approach the issue of Time-Management strategy with all the factors in an integrated manner relative to other related aspects of program and project execution planning.
It is important to note that McLaughlin and McLaughlin [M&M] is not a law firm and is not intending to provide legal advice. M&M is a consulting firm providing (among other services) non-legal expertise in dispute resolution and litigation support. For further information on M&M services, please see www.McLaughlinandMcLaughlin.com.