Most Common Errors in CPM Scheduling

Most Common Errors in CPM Scheduling

Most Common Errors in CPM Scheduling
Most Common Errors in CPM Scheduling

Critical Path Method Scheduling is a valuable tool to the all industries. However, despite more than 60 years of use (developed in the late 1950s), there are still some common CPM errors being committed by “experts”. Errors that reduce the effectiveness of even the most carefully CPM schedule. I would like to share with you the most common errors. Please feel free to share your experience in the comments. 

Lack of buy-in by the project team.    

Over the years, more owners and general contractors have incorporated CPM scheduling into their project plans. However, their enthusiasm is not always matched by their project team. Getting buy-in from other members of the team - the project manager, superintendent, architect and subcontractors - can sometimes prove difficult.

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Personnel are ill-equipped to create a CPM schedule.    

CPM, when properly executed, is a sophisticated tool that can save a client considerable time and money. But oftentimes the general contractor turns the scheduling over to an inexperienced team member. This person’s sole expertise may consist of one scheduling course and some CPM software knowledge, but lacks the kind of seasoned judgment that makes a plan work. The result: a flawed schedule that can cause significant problems.

Inadequate software for the job.

There are many CPM scheduling software packages on the market, some sophisticated and capable of handling multimillion-dollar projects and some too simplistic to be of use to anything but a small job. If your project needs “serious” scheduling – you need software package capable of delivering more comprehensive reports and doing more complicated analyses. Choosing a software package that is less than what is needed is a sure way to cause scheduling problems.

Abuse of the scheduling software.

As the adage goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” Someone who knows how to manipulate scheduling software can wreak havoc with a project’s successful completion. A CPM scheduler can choose different technical options—such as logic override, lead and lag calculations or constrained dates - when working with the schedule. If the scheduler’s “constrained” dates are artificial - chosen to create a certain result on paper—then the CPM is useless. After all, its purpose is to reflect realistic start/completion dates for the project’s activities. And the team members who rely on a manipulated schedule to make decisions are mislead, often with disastrous and costly results.

Inadequate incorporation of changes into the CPM schedule.

A CPM schedule is not cast in stone. When changes are made to a project, they must be accurately and continuously incorporated into the CPM schedule updates. Unfortunately, all too often a planner either doesn’t plug in the changes at all or waits until the end of the job, when it’s too late. Regular monthly updates to the CPM schedule, which includes proposed and altered changes, would help ensure that the changes on the project are correctly assessed and accommodated.

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Lack of communication during project.

It is not enough for the contractor to provide monthly updates of the CPM schedule and to produce updated reports. If this information doesn’t get shared with everyone involved with the project or if the information is difficult to decipher, then the updates are useless. Numerous, long and confusing reports often are issued but eventually cease to be read. One solution to information overload are short (three- to four-page) written management analysis reports that summarize all the CPM information - what has been accomplished on the project, what still needs to be done, whether the project is on time or behind schedule, and what the next critical activities are that need to be addressed. With this kind of summary, team players are kept up-to-date with easy-to-digest and understandable reports.
                                                  Dariusz Wolejszo

Project Control specialist offering more than 15 years of leadership in design, construction, project development, and commissioning of high-profile oil, gas, petrochemical and power facilities.  Strong experience in a project controls management role, working for international construction companies.
Great understanding of Planning, Cost, Estimating, and document control. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Team player, self-driven and good in high pressure dynamic situations. People and result orientated individual with strong understanding the motivational requirements whilst working in projected organizations.  
Oil & Gas (Onshore & Offshore), Power Plants, Shipyards, Railway – ERTMS

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