Time, Time and Time Again! How many time you hear this:
Time is of the essence!
Time is critical!
Delivery Time is important!
Liquidated damages for delay in delivery time will be enforced!
Right for Termination and or Rescinding of a contract for delays in delivery!
The above phrases and similar sounding clauses are heard, read and seen, time, time and time again, in almost all types of contracts, whether for infrastructure construction industry or for oil & gas EPCIC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction, Installation and Commissioning) contracts. In oil & gas EPCIC contracts, where delays can result in billions of dollars of losses and multiple law suits, the prudent parties often start scheduling for a project from the ITB stage itself. Invariably across the globe, the focus remains on estimation of durations for tasks, milestones, networks and dependencies etcetera. The monitoring and control in conjunction with risk management programs also focuses on meeting the target dates. The simplest project scheduling software to the more complex applications, are devoted in producing simulations of what-if scenarios and optimum schedule and resources. We have yet to see any systematic and structured schedule of potential vs actual loss time Gantt charts against all tasks, activities and milestones. This is the type of analysis which is often conducted for delayed projects and during dispute resolution stage to collate evidence. It is termed as forensic analysis.
The question arises, why can’t we plan a schedule showing potential delays in each task for which a duration has been estimated and then update it based on actual delays (if any)? What can we call such a Gantt chart, certainly not a forensic chart as the project would still be in progress? Let us first identify the benefits of developing such a schedule, which can be one or more of the following, for a start, and more will depend on the respective contexts of projects and types of contracts.
Potential Benefits of Loss Time Schedule
- Shift in focus on prevention strategies then on loss time or contingency management;
- Real-time indicators of delays act as tell-tale signs, which can help in avoidance of detrimental consequences and damages;
- Improved cost-variance controls and claims planning;
- Risk avoidance and conflicts management; and
- On the job learning and implementing lessons learned in the upcoming tasks instead of future projects at the expense of losses in current projects.
So what shall we name such a schedule? Can we name it as “Preventive Time Loss Schedule?” Well it has to be tested to provide valuable insights for the future projects.
Now to address the key question: how shall we produce such a schedule on an objective basis and not a randomly drawn subjective and coercive tool in the hands of aggressive or idealistic (unrealistic) clients?
Inputs for Preventive Time Loss Schedule Development
- Set clear objectives for such a schedule so as not to confuse with actual project schedule;
- Project Risks Register detailing the risky activities, sources of risks and ranking;
- Planned durations and Pessimistic duration of activities in the project schedule;
- Real-time progress reports and updating of actual work done; and
- Decision on the difference between planned duration and pessimistic duration or alternate value, as the potential loss time to be treated as “Time Loss” duration for scheduling purposes.
It may appear that the Project Management Team will be faced with daunting task of monitoring two different schedules, which may lead to overlap and loose its intended significance. However this has to be consciously managed by not assigning to the project manager but the task shall be within the purview of Risk Manager.
The critic and comments on the title as “Preventive Time Loss Schedule Management” and rationale above will be duly appreciated. The readers are welcome to send an email enquiry for further details or consultancy services from Tiberias MC, your innovative management consultancy services providers.