Important Concepts in Scheduling

The project schedule is a given for any construction project. For the project team, particularly the Project Manager, it is the most important tool in setting priorities for the team. For all other stakeholders in the project, it can be an incredibly useful tool as well. In order to take advantage of this however, there are a few important concepts to understand and to ask your contractor about regularly:

  • Progressive Elaboration - This is a concept that many schedules take advantage of, it involves bringing additional detail into the project schedule as it becomes available; typically as the team comes closer to performing the work. For instance, it is not reasonable to expect a project team to have a detailed breakdown and sequence assigned to the finishes portion of the schedule at ground break, but that portion of the schedule should look much different when you're wrapping up drywall work.
  • Level of...

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The Case for Construction Technology — Productivity Loss

The conversation around the use of technology in construction management has changed dramatically it tone and frequency over the last several years. At least, that's the way it seems; but what do the numbers say about this? Turns out, it's not just a feeling. From 2011 to 2017 McKinsey measured $10 billion in investment in construction technology (stylized as "Con-tech") firms, and separately JLL measured already $1 billion in the first half of 2018 alone. Those numbers aren't surprising when at last count Skanska USA determined there were over 2,100 individual companies looking to take up some of the space that opened up in what was a pretty uninteresting sector for so many years. So con-tech is definitely on the rise - but why? Well, it's no secret that the construction industry is suffering from and diminishing workforce and rampant issues meeting schedules. We have a productivity problem. It isn't getting better...

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Prompt Payment and Risk Management

An interesting study was published recently on the impact of slow payments in the construction industry. It estimated that the average payment cycle for subcontractors is 54 days, and that is costing the industry over $40 billion dollars each year. That's a staggering figure, but one that makes sense when you consider the cost of construction rising and the amount of financing it takes for subcontractors to stay in business. This added cost comes from a number of sources:

  • Finance charges from lines of credit subcontractors must take out to afford materials.
  • Late fees assessed by suppliers when subcontractors can't pay bills due to non-payment.
  • Lost revenue from liquid assets being stuck in accounts receivable versus short-term investments.
  • The inability for subcontractors to obtain discounts from their vendors for prompt payment.
While this stresses the importance of making prompt payments on construction projects for the benefit of subcontractors succeeding, there is...

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