MANAGING RISK OF DELAY – Schedule Specification Sources and Implementation (Part 8)

This post is the eighth in a series of discussions regarding various aspects of time management as it relates to the risk of delay.  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 implementing and using a schedule specification as a managerial tool.

The challenge associated with managing time is common to virtually all projects.  This challenge is true for most project management situations.  It is intensified in the case of larger and more complex projects.  Examples include Lump Sum Turn Key (LSTK), Engineer Procure Construct (EPC) and other similarly executed projects.  In addition to the normal issues associated with bulk progress, actions or inactions by the owner can add considerable complexity to this challenge.  Over the past seven years, M&M has program/project managed five projects exceeding $100 million (USD) in investment value (total installed cost).  Thus, practical/practioner experience is engendered in this discussion/post.

In project work, typically the contract establishes the relationship between key parties and stakeholders.  Hence, the contract represents a logical choice for implementation of time management structure and process.  Therefore, inclusion of a schedule specification, as a companion to the changes provisions, is the logical choice.

As noted in Part 4 of this Subject Series, there are several quality sources of guidance and examples regarding the development and use of schedule specifications.

There are almost as many different scheduling specifications as there are construction contracts.  Yet, as just one example, the US Army Corps of Engineers [USACE], the largest constructor in the world and a pioneer in requiring the use of CPM scheduling techniques on their projects, has not significantly changed its scheduling specification in the last ten years.  However, the US Army Corps of Engineers scheduling specification has served as a model for many scheduling specifications in both the public and private sectors.

Clearly, one of the most prominent authorities and proponents of Critical Path Method [CPM] scheduling is James J. O’Brien.  Mr. O’Brien has authored (with Fredric L. Plotnick) an excellent book (including CD) on this topic related to large and complex construction projects.  Mr. O’Brien’s publication, CPM in Construction Management is cited in this blog’s Resource Center.  In the appendix, the authors provide a sample CPM specification.  This sample is intended as a starting point for the user’s specification.

The past ten years have also seen an increase in CPM schedule related disputes ranging from entitlement to delay damages to termination for default for failing to perform according to the approved progress schedule.

Another prominent authority and thinker regarding CPM scheduling and delay liability (and claims) is Jon M. Wickwire.  Mr. Wickwire (and others) has authored an excellent book on this topic.  Mr. Wickwire’s publication, Construction Scheduling: Preparation, Liability, and Claims is cited in this blog’s Resource Center.  In the appendices, the authors provide sample scheduling specifications.  The samples can be adapted to the user’s application.

As noted in Part 6 of this Subject Series, time and progress management has proven to be a three part managerial challenge, with the three parts closely linked.  These three performance indicators are:

  • Critical Path management
  • Earned Value (e.g. bulk progress, progress S curves) Management
  • Productivity management.

The scheduling process and practices can integrate the tools and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) needed to professionally address these project management challenges.  Hence, the schedule specification can be of high value in implementation of time management.

Key points that are typically addressed in schedule specifications include:

  • Use of network analysis scheduling
  • Key methodologies, structures and restrictions
  • Preparation, submission and approval of the baseline schedule
  • Process for updating the schedule
  • Use of the schedule in managing the project
  • Use of the schedule in reporting project status and prognosis
  • Use of the network in analyzing changed work
  • Other.

The project manager and team must professionally manage the time allocated for the planning and execution of the project.  Implementation of this time management requires a clear Time Management StrategyTime-Management Strategy is the higher level challenge.  The Time-Management Strategy must be integrated with progress and claims management strategy.  More specifically, the time-related issues must be harmonized and synchronized with the progress and claims strategy.

The specific strategy, process and procedures are driven by the project specifics.

When M&M undertakes an assignment involving program/project development, planning and/or management, we integrate both critical path time management and earned value management practices and procedures into project execution.

Good luck and let us all attempt to approach the issue of Time-Management strategy with all the factors in an integrated manner (critical path progress, bulk progress or EVM, and productivity) 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.  The Resource Center is for the convenience of blog visitors and M&M does not offer this for commercial purposes.  For further information on M&M services, please see