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What Do You Do If the CM Micromanages The Contract’s Schedule and Withholds Approval?

Angry Construction Worker

Here’s a question. What do you do if the Construction Manager  micromanages the contractor’s schedule and withholds approval so the project proceeds for months without a schedule and, as a consequence, the contractor has their own in-house schedule that is different? Can the contractor use their in-house schedule as a basis for measuring the delay?

The short answer to this question, in my opinion, is yes. Ultimately, the right answer is whichever schedule is best. In other words, if the CM’s position is that the schedule is tragically flawed, and the reason for their rejection of the schedule was this tragic flaw, and because of this flaw the schedule is not an accurate representation of the contractor’s plan for completing the work, the CM has a point.

I often say, at least to my staff, use the contemporaneous project schedules to measure delay, but don’t hold tight to those schedules and jump off a cliff with them. The point I’m trying to make is that nobody believes the right way to measure a delay is to use a schedule that is truly, deeply flawed.

I think if the contractor has developed a workable, reasonable, sensible schedule that truly and honestly sets forth the contractor’s plan for executing the project, the contractor keeps that schedule updated, and the contractor revises the logic as necessary to deal with the conditions that it’s encountered…the contractor should be able to use that schedule as a basis for measuring delay.

Now, I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. I’m not saying every CM will agree with me on that point. Matter of fact, I’m not going to say that everybody will agree with me on this point.

I think the key point here is, if this is a reasonable, sensible schedule (the accurate plan the contractor is following for executing the project) then you can have some confidence that somebody looking back on the project will be able to use it as a basis for evaluating delays.

What I think CMs are particularly concerned about — and I know that owners are concerned about this —is they’re very worried about contractors playing games with the schedule. Probably the worst game played is the one where the contractor inserts activities into a schedule to represent delays. The purpose and effect of these insertions can be to mask the contractor’s own faults or problems.

Those are the kind of things that, I think, concern most CMs and owners. There is a lack of trust there. Certainly, there is a belief by some owners and CMs that on certain projects, certain contractors manipulate the schedule to get it to say what they want it to say.

Those would be the kinds of things that you need to be careful of. If someone could look at the schedule and develop the perception that the schedule is actually being used as a tool to manipulate the accurate picture of the project, then that kind of schedule will probably not be accepted by the CM and frankly, probably will not ultimately be useable as tool for measuring delays on the project.

Be careful. Wear the white hat. If you want the schedule to be the tool to use to measure delays, then it has to be a reasonably accurate measure of the status of the project, and reasonably accurate measure of what the contractor intends to do.

Scott Lowe is a Principal of TRAUNER and is an expert in the areas of critical path method scheduling and construction claim preparation and evaluation, and specification writing. He can be reached at scott.lowe@traunerconsulting.com.

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