Monday, April 11, 2016

Guest Post: Schedule Errors -- To Correct or Not to Correct? by Fritz T. Marth, PE, CFCC, Senior Managing Consultant at GREYHAWK

The Dispute Resolver is proud to offer the following guest post by Fritz T. Marth, PE, CFCC, Senior Managing Consultant at GREYHAWK.  We are grateful to Fritz for his contribution and insightful post.  Please click here to learn more about Fritz and GREYHAWK.

Schedule Errors – To Correct or Not to Correct?
By Fritz T. Marth, PE, CFCC
Senior Managing Consultant at GREYHAWK

The forensic analysis of critical path delays to project milestones, as part of claims and litigation, initially involves the assessment of the baseline schedule.  While there is often a temptation to “correct” critical path method schedules prior to or during the schedule analysis process, one should always think twice before doing so.  It is best to remember the old adage that, “no good deed goes unpunished.”  No matter how genuine the desire to perform an accurate and objective analysis may be, that genuineness will be challenged anytime changes to contemporaneous project documents, including schedules, are made after the fact.  That is not to say that there are not very legitimate reasons for corrections to a schedule, or any other project document for that matter; however, many times these corrections can be addressed by way of explanation rather than by way of change.

For example, when clear cases of improper sequencing occur, such as a schedule indicating a wall being constructed before its footing is placed, the temptation to correct exists.  This makes sense, especially if the original critical path progresses through the wall, and then moves into something other than the scheduled footing.  In that case, a good argument could be made that that critical path is in error, and would actually be increased in duration since proper sequencing would require footing placement before wall construction.  At this point in the analysis however, the analyst should stop and ask themselves some questions, such as:

  • Going forward in time on the project (taking advantage of the benefit of hindsight), was the critical path, or the actual work, in fact influenced as a result of this sequencing error?

  • Will addressing this sequencing error as simply resulting in a de facto schedule impact provide a more understandable and accurate analysis than making an upfront change to the schedule which could affect the schedule “downstream,” in a way that would never have occurred?

If the answer to the first question is “no” or the answer to the second question “yes,” the error is likely better addressed by explanation than by change.  In doing so, full acknowledgement of the error is made, the effect of the error accounted for, and any arguments about the credibility of “making changes to the plan after the fact” avoided.  The more objective the analysis is the more credible the analysis is, and any changes made by an analyst necessarily introduce subjectivity.  Finally, one should always be mindful that when performing a schedule analysis without the benefit of having access to the scheduler, what may appear as an obvious error, may in fact not be one.

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