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Enhancing Your Project’s Baseline Schedule

By Bob Jones

April 27, 2020

Enhance your construction project's baseline schedule

Over my 30-year career in heavy highway construction, I know firsthand the advantages of accurately and thoroughly scheduling projects for both the Owner and Contractor. The baseline schedule is not simply a task to be checked off. It is a scientific tool that can save your transportation agency time and money, providing benefit to both Owners and Contractors.

Done right, the project baseline schedule provides both the Contractors and Owners with a well thought-out and detailed plan for the project at its outset. An accurate schedule offers the entire team the ability to evaluate changes and identify issues accurately during the project to mitigate negative impacts to the overall schedule.

 

Why is an Enhanced Baseline Schedule Important?

The baseline schedule lays out the entire project, step-by-step, beginning to end. It clearly identifies the fastest path to complete the project along with activities that are on the critical path and activities that may be near-critical and do not have much float. This allows teams to plan, prepare and pivot contributing to the project’s overall success.

Utilizing a wide range of scheduling metrics and forensics to evaluate the baseline schedule will improve the accuracy and functionality of the schedule, allowing the team to utilize the schedule to its fullest ability and mitigate impacts to the two most critical aspects of every project: time and money.

 

The Science Behind Our Baseline Schedule Review Process

RS&H’s unique and tested approach to analyzing the baseline schedule makes the process quick, efficient, and effective. Our process further enhances current standard processes to better identify and mitigate schedule risk with today’s trends toward alternative delivery, expedited schedules, and larger, more complicated, high risk projects.

We have developed, vetted, and tested an innovative set of analytics in partnership with scheduling and transportation industry experts and agencies including the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and the Government Accountability Office.

RS&H’s method is grounded in analytics, providing an evaluation of the schedule well beyond standard reviews. Our process utilizes advanced software to analyze a schedule rapidly and provides detailed recommendations and measurable scoring. In due diligence, we have reviewed previously accepted baseline schedules from various state DOT’s. In our analysis, we have found a steady stream of projects that are scoring 90% to 100% when using the standard criteria. However, when we take those same schedules and run them through more comprehensive analytics, the scores are cut in half. Often, these are the same projects that run into delays, issues, and claims. As you can see, expanding the criteria can help enhance your current review process to help mitigate that risk.

RS&H’s approach is customized to fit each project’s needs and specifications, which could include analyzing the schedule quality, characteristics, durations, logic relations, earned value vs. planned value, status, as well as several other diagnostic tools. When there are known potential impacts or delays at the onset of a project, we utilize multiple software packages, allowing our experts to drill down into individual activities to review the anticipated work.

RS&M Metric Ribbon Scorecards

Once an agreed-upon baseline schedule is implemented, our team continues providing the same level of complete analysis for updated schedules throughout the course of the project. While maintaining our focus on analytics, forensics and scoring, which go beyond the standard review process, we provide executive briefing reports for each of the updated schedules. These reports provide a detailed summary of the total float and identify any cases where it may be misrepresented. Along with this, we will provide recommendations to improve the accuracy of the schedule. If potential impacts are identified or forecasted, a more detailed investigation can be performed to provide further details and possible solutions to help ensure the performance of the schedule. This allows a project team to make preventative adjustments to the project schedule and allocation of resources if necessary, to mitigate possible impacts to the project’s critical path.

 

Efficiency in the Approach

You may be wondering if this approach slows down the baseline schedule approval process at the start of the project. The answer is no. In fact, it streamlines what could be a laborious process.

RS&H’s automated baseline schedule analysis is done in a matter of days and covers three major areas: attributes, logic, and quality. The 360-degree perspective from both the Contractor and Owner provides feedback on every relationship or activity outlined. The turnaround is essentially the same whether the project consists of 50 or 5,000 activities. RS&H’s nationwide network of scheduling experts can interact with internal or external construction management teams to review logic, activities, durations, and relationships in-person or virtually using video-calls. These discussions provide valuable information sharing regarding the project and schedule and enhance the construction management teams ability to guide the project through challenges.

Our comprehensive analysis allows potential risks and challenges to be identified and addressed before the project starts, so the team can resolve challenges in advance of potential impacts to the critical path. Additionally, we can provide monthly reports during the project that assist the team with identifying and correcting unforeseen problems before they start to affect the project’s timeline.

 

Benefits of a Detailed Baseline Schedule

RS&H’s comprehensive yet streamlined schedule analysis will assist the Department of Transportation agencies and construction teams with identifying potential challenges sooner while providing an improved schedule to evaluate the project impacts. This analysis can help reduce costs and time.

An enhanced baseline schedule allows both the Owner and the Contractor to identify potential impacts before they begin. Understanding and knowing the critical path of the project provides early identification of issues and allows the Contractor to utilize their resources efficiently and effectively to minimize critical path impacts, saving both time and money for all parties involved.

If you are interested in learning more about ways in which RS&H can help enhance your current review process to help mitigate risk, saving time and money, contact Project Controls Group Leader Bob Jones at bob.jones@rsandh.com.

Topics: Insights, Construction Management, Transportation, Project Controls

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About the Author

Bob comes to RS&H after a 30-year career as an owner of a 97-year-old bridge, concrete paving, and excavation company. Bob’s tenure has included the pursuit and completion of projects under all contract formats; unit price, lump sum, negotiated, A+B, lane rentals, CMGC, T&M, Design Build, Emergency, and P3 in both the United States and Canada. This experience has resulted in an extensive history in all types of schedule and cost claims totaling millions of dollars across multiple disciplines. He can be reached at bob.jones@rsandh.com.

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