Construction documentation today

Philosophy and CPM communications

Many directives are conveyed orally at a construction site. This is a dangerous practice as the instruction may not be clearly understood or carried out accurately.
Many directives are conveyed orally at a construction site. This is a dangerous practice as the instruction may not be clearly understood or carried out accurately.

Communication is vital in project management. One of the project manager’s critical responsibilities is to maintain communication links both within and outside of the project. All project managers must be aware of scheduling philosophy, and how it relates to communications. It is an overview of a number of common-sense principles developed through experience rather than a scholarly approach based on extensive research. The goal is to create interest and raise the level of consciousness in establishing and maintaining a positive scheduling philosophy within an organization.

The continued increase in the size and complexity of construction projects today has placed an even greater emphasis on proper planning and scheduling. Organizations that are involved in large projects have separate groups for the planning, scheduling, and controlling function. Personnel in these groups do not exercise actual control since that is vested with the project manager. However, the planning, scheduling, and control specialists must assimilate all information from different sources and communicate and apply an array of techniques and methods aimed at helping the project manager understand a situation, diagnose it, and then take action.

In this author’s experience, there is a mutual dependency between a trusting relationship and effective communication performance. A trusting organizational climate is required for effective communications, as well as the project manager’s daily use of CPM schedules. It is easy to recognize if the ‘scheduling philosophy’ promotes a trusting and supportive climate because communication practice would be good in the area of project time and documentation control. Conversely, if the climate surrounding project scheduling is hostile and threatening, communication suffers.

Cost data and documentation

Providing the actual dollars lost is critical to a construction claim. Use and maintenance of effective accounting methods can provide the proof of damages necessary to support additional compensation. All project managers must study current accounting systems tied to a time impact analysis (TIA) of the project CPM schedule.

Since delay, acceleration, and impact claims frequently involve inefficiency claims and loss of productivity factors, which are difficult to segregate under traditional accounting systems, a method of isolating cost not covered by the contract is especially needed.

A system allowing for concurrent segregation of unanticipated costs is not only easier and less expensive than the after-the-fact breakdown, but also more convincing in the courtroom.

Reports are often prepared to study costs or production units as the project progresses. Analysis of such cost reports may show where the contractor’s estimating department was incorrect or when inefficiencies were the direct result of contractor mismanagement.

Although cost records on each project and between contractors vary, the following list is a typical spectrum of cost data that should be preserved by the project manager for potential use in proving damages:

  • project cost budget;
  • weekly labor distribution reports;
  • labor timecards coded to CPM work activities;
  • overtime labor records;
  • labor fringe agreements;
  • certified payroll reports;
  • canceled payroll checks;
  • daily equipment cost records, including hours operated and idle, work performed by CPM activity, and repairs made;
  • purchase orders;
  • contractors bid analysis;
  • paid invoices;
  • material receiving tickets;
  • canceled accounts payable checks;
  • monthly job cost reports;
  • subcontractors cost reports;
  • revenue records;
  • progress payment reports;
  • ‘S’ curve of projected collections and actual collections
    of work in place by CPM schedule (a dollar value is given
    to each CPM scheduled activity to show projected
    monthly cost);
  • record of stored materials billed monthly;
  • change order request and approved;
  • bank loans; and
  • cost assigned to each delay and will advise the owner of current request for the cost on the project.
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