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How to Develop a Schedule that Confirms to the Contractual Requirements

How to Develop a Schedule that Confirms to the Contractual Requirements

Abstract:

Schedule is a tool that helps project team achieves project timely delivery objectives. For construction projects, it is common practice that a contractor is brought onboard. In this arrangement the Contract between the owner/employer and contractor becomes the pivotal tool that sets out obligation of either party, which includes the obligation of timely delivery of information, work front, and completed works. While Schedule remains the tool that help projects to achieve timely delivery objective, however, in the employer‐contractor‐contract setting, the role of the Schedule as a tool broadens from merely time control to the areas like delay analysis, cost and time claim, internal and external communication.

In this scenario failure by a party to achieve milestone or to complete an activity, as required in Schedule, may have a contractual implication, which may result into claims and disputes. Therefore, it is mandatory that the Schedule must incorporate and confirms to the obligations set in the contract. Reading and understanding contract requirements are, therefore, the first step towards schedule preparation. Contractor's Planner/Scheduler requires a certain degree of skill and knowledge to read the contract, and skim relevant information and obligations to incorporate in the Schedule. Same is valid for the owner (or his representative) scheduler at the time of review/approval of the Schedule.

In large and complex contracts, involvements of the specialist contract professionals are recommended to advise the Scheduler to ensure that all the important contractual information are incorporated in the Schedule. I have come across several Schedules that have missed important contractual elements. Although, in my experience, such omission have not resulted into issues or disputes all the time, but at several occasions they require correction to the (baseline) Schedule and more often, and importantly, such omissions reduces the efficiency and effectiveness of the Schedule. It would be a good idea to avoid such omission at the first place than revisiting and correcting the Schedule at later date.

Sometime errors caused by not following the contract requirements, may result into rejection of schedule and in some cases it may turn out to be a financial implication to the contractor. In few instances, this may cause contractor failure to submit the schedule within the duration stipulated in the contract and eventually lead to nonpayment or withholding of contract specified sum from the interim invoices. In their more complex form, these shortcomings may weaken the position of one party in a claims situation.

As said, the contract sets out the contractor and employer obligations. For scheduling point of view, these obligations boil down into three broad categories of:

  1. Contractor obligations ‐ to deliver the project within timelines.
  2. Employer (and/or his representative) obligation to provide inputs (in a timely manner specified in the contract or requested by the contractor) to enable the contractor to complete the works.
  3. Schedule Preparation/update methodology

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