Labor/Labour Productivity – Overtime Impacts (Part 12)


This is the twelfth posting regarding labor/labour productivity and disruption.  This contribution provides thoughts on the evaluation of impact of overtime on labor productivity.  The Subject Series can be viewed here.

Overtime or Extended Working Hours represent one of the widely recognized causes of loss in labor/labour efficiency or productivity.  A key issue for project planners and managers is the notion of how to evaluate this impact.  The evaluation challenge is present whether the analysis is prospective (contemporaneous) or retrospective.  Retrospective analyses can be used or required during project execution or part of forensic analyses.

Regarding the evaluation techniques, K Pickavance (please see below for citation) organizes the methods as follows:

  1. “Planned (undisrupted) versus actual (disrupted)”
  2. “Actual  (undisrupted) versus actual (disrupted) – the measured mile approach”
  3. “Historic (undisrupted – on other projects) versus actual (disrupted)”
  4. “Industry productivity norms (undisrupted) versus actual (disrupted)”
  5. “Time and motion study (undisrupted) versus actual (disrupted).”

As previously posted, project planning is one of the major challenges for program and project management teams.  Past posts have discussed many aspects of project planning.  The series regarding Project Management Challenges is here.  Part 5 of this series is particularly relevant or germane to the discussion regarding the impact of overtime on labor productivity in this post.

The impact of overtime on labor productivity is a relevant and serious consideration in many aspects of program and project management.  In the case of impact assessment, the anticipation of a particular analytical methodology is a planning consideration.  Said differently, the project planning should consider the data needed and the collection techniques to be used relative to the assessment of overtime impact on productivity.

Again, the impact on the schedule duration must consider the planned and forecasted progress using the proper productivity.  As overtime is introduced, progress may well be impacted.  The time impact of more work hours per week is mitigated or offset by the lowered productivity.

The following key references are provided and most are linked in the Resource Center.

Regarding Actual versus actual (the “measured mile” approach), Pickavance states that: “17.79 Whilst a comparison with planned data may frequently be the easiest approach for parties to adopt, the most widely accepted method for analyzing productivity is that which is referred to as the measured mile or measured productivity approach.  As the SCL Protocol puts it:

“The most appropriate way to establish disruption is to apply a technique known as the ‘measured mile’.  This compares the productivity on an un-impacted part of the contract with that achieved on the other impacted part.  Such a comparison factors out issues concerning unrealistic programmes and inefficient working.  The comparison can be made on the man-hours expended pr the units of work performed.”

“In the words of Schwartzkopf: The measured mile calculation is favored because it considers only the actual effect of the alleged impact and thereby eliminates disputes over the validity of cost estimates, or factors that may have impacted productivity due to no fault of the owner.”

The references above are sources of information regarding techniques and factors that can assist in the planning and evaluation process.  A key point is to plan for the methodology that may or will be used.  Contemporaneous collection and analysis of appropriate data are planning and execution considerations.

Once the planned work schedule or work week is established and reflected in the Project Management Plan, departures from this baseline can have widespread impacts.  For example, negative productivity impacts due to working additional hours per week may require added field labor workers.  The additional staff may strain the limits of the project’s (among many parameters) infrastructure, supervision and/or tools and equipment (plant).

Again, the references above are sources of information regarding techniques and factors that can assist in the planning and replanning process.

Project professionals should approach the issue of project management with consideration for labor/labour productivity and with all other factors in an integrated manner.  Labor productivity must be integrated with other related aspects of program and project execution planning or forensic analysis.  In planning for these practices, consideration must be given to progress planning, labor/labour crew requirements, progress impacts and professional forecasts.  The managerial approach should include methods and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that provide the feedback needed to detect and identify variances from the Project Management Plan baseline.

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