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Dealing with Contractor’s Schedules that Cannot be Approved

Dealing with Contractor’s Schedules that Cannot be Approved” by Chris Carson, PSP, CCM, PMP


Too many projects start without approved schedules, and sometimes the schedules are never approved. This raises risks to both the Contractor and the Owner. However, if the risks of approving the schedule are higher than the risks and benefits to the project of approving that schedule, the schedule should be rejected. In the case of rejection, knowing what to do and how to deal with a project that does not have an approved schedule in place can be very important to the success of the project and protection of the two party’s interests. This paper addresses the very difficult choices when a schedule is submitted that is substandard and should not be approved.


It is in the best interests of any project to get an approved as-planned schedule in place as soon as possible to ensure that appropriate planning is done. It will allow management of the project for both the Contractor and the Owner, to provide a basis for analysis of trending, completion predictions, and delay, and to develop validated documentation in support of future resolution of disputes. This is also true of schedule updates; approved updates contribute to project success through fewer disagreements as to the intent of the schedule in addition to providing the basis for analysis. Clearly the as-planned portion of the schedules must model the Contractor’s means and methods of construction. The as-built portion must accurately represent the history, and the schedule must meet contractual requirements as well as represent a reasonable approach to scheduling all work outside the Contractor’s responsibility.

If a schedule does not support these goals, it likely does not meet industry best practices closely enough to be approved without the Owner taking on risks embedded in or resulting from the approved schedule. In addition, schedule approval is a process that is designed to improve the quality of schedules and protect the owner and contractor. Many and likely most owner representatives provide identification of deficiencies as well as recommendations for improvement of scheduling best practices.

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