In How to Update a Construction Schedule – Part 1, we examined why schedules are updated, what a baseline is, and the why the frequency of schedule updates are determined by project complexity, unexpected events, and contract requirements. In Part 2, we will explore the actual steps in properly updating a construction schedule.
Step by step procedure for updating a construction schedule
Updating a construction project schedule is a systematic, step-by-step process that includes the following steps:
- Gathering activity status information
- Inputting the activity information
- Reviewing and analyzing the schedule status
- Modifying and revising the schedule to reflect the current plan
- Publishing and implementing the updated schedule
The first step in updating a construction schedule is to gather the activity status information. This involves gathering and estimating the following information about each activity in the project schedule:
- Actual Start Date
- Completion Status
- Remaining Duration
- Actual Finish Date
Actual Start Date The Actual Start Date is when meaningful work will began on the activity. Note: this may not be the first day that work was performed on an activity. Typically, it’s the day that work is started with the intention of working continuously until the activity is completed.
Completion Status At the time of the schedule update, some activities will not have started, some will be in progress, and other activities will have been completed. The activities that are in progress at the time of the schedule update should receive the most attention.
Remaining Duration For any in-progress activities, the remaining duration should be estimated based on (a) how much of the planned work is completed and (b) how much longer it will take to complete the activity. This requires a review of the level of productivity being achieved.
Actual Finish Date Like the actual start date, the actual finish date may not be the last day work was performed on a particular activity. The actual finish date is generally defined as the day when the successor activity can begin and continue without being hindered by any remaining minor work of the predecessor activity being reviewed.
Activity status information can be gathered from a variety of sources, such as:
- Walking the jobsite and directly observing the work
- Conducting update meetings with subcontractors
- Reviewing field reports such as the superintendent’s and subcontractor’s daily progress reports
- Generating and distributing update worksheets to the various superintendents, project managers and foremen to fill out and provide the required activity status information.
Once the activity status information is gathered, the information is input into the scheduling software, the status/data date is adjusted, and the schedule is recalculated. The recalculated schedule at this step in the process is often referred to as a “half-step” schedule – that is, the baseline schedule updated with the status information with no changes to logic, original durations or any activities added or deleted.
This half-step schedule can be used to review and analyze the project status. During this review and analysis, the project team should address certain key situations and events, such as:
Discrepancies between the new forecast completion and the contractual completion date. If there is a large discrepancy between the forecast and contractual dates, the baseline and updated schedule should be compared and analyzed to determine the cause of the discrepancy.
Shifts in the critical path. If a critical path shift has occurred, the baseline and updated schedule should be compared and analyzed to determine the cause of the shift and, depending on the reason for the shift, whether corrective action is needed.
Significant changes in float. The reason for any significant changes in float for individual activities should be determined and analyzed. Special attention should be paid to near critical activities.
Scope of work changes. If there have been changes to the scope of work, then activities should be added or deleted as needed and appropriate logic ties made to the un-changed work.
Delays or other impacts. Impacts such as weather, lack of manpower, lower-than-expected productivity, design deficiencies, etc. should be taken into account and the schedule adjusted accordingly.
If the construction project has proceeded as planned and none of the above situations have affected the schedule, then the update process is complete and the schedule can be published and implemented. However, as is usually the case, the schedule will need to be modified and revised as a result of changes in the anticipated conditions. These revisions and modifications take the schedule from a half step to a full and complete schedule update.
Generally, revisions made to the updated schedule to reflect current project status can be categorized as follows:
- Revisions to logic
- Revisions to activity durations
- Adding or deleting activities
The updated project schedule should reflect the way in which the project team plans to complete the project. Once the updated schedule is complete, the final step is to publish and implement the schedule – that is, use it to plan and manage the ongoing and upcoming work onsite.
The above steps for how to update a construction schedule are vital to keeping an accurately updated project schedule. An incorrectly updated schedule can result in a tool that is less useful to the project team as it manages the completion of the project. The information above and in Part 1 is meant as a guideline and not a foolproof plan for success. For true expertise from a reliable, experienced source, trust Florida Consultants to help you get your construction project off the ground, properly planned and completed on time and within budget.