A well-prepared construction schedule helps the project manager manage project tasks, other parties in the contract, and the various risks inherent in any project. Since all participants have some role in the successful project and some interests and risks at stake, it is important to bring each party into the planning and scheduling process. There are often many parties involved in the project management process and each one has their issues and risks to manage. For example, the project owner has a goal for a quality project delivered on time and within budget. Usually one or both of these issues drive the project finish from an owner’s perspective. Time is the driving factor when the owner is willing to accelerate a project (and pay for it) in order to meet a certain deadline. The budget is the driving factor when time extensions are granted instead of paying for acceleration costs.
When project delays occur, it is important to clarify what the owner’s driving factor is in order to resolve schedule delay issues early. For example, if a delay occurs and the contractor accelerates to pick up time and, after the fact, submits a claim against the owner in order to recover the extra costs associated with the acceleration, the owner may respond that the budget was the driving factor and that a promptly submitted time impact analysis may have resulted in a time extension and no acceleration would have been necessary so the contractor bears the risk of those costs. Contractors often finish a project late when there were legitimate delays, only to find that a time extension is not granted at the end of the project because the driving factor for the project was time more than budget. Therefore, the owner argues that a promptly submitted time impact analysis would have resulted in an acceleration order at the owner’s expense in order to meet the construction completion milestone, so liquidated damages are enforced.
Well defined scheduling processes will give the contractor and owner an effective tool to identify these driving factors early in the project and resolve issues impacting these factors.