Until just a few years ago, there was no generally accepted formal procedure to aid in the management of construction projects. Each project manager had a different system, which usually included the use of the Gantt chart, or bar chart. The bar chart was, and still is, quite useful for illustrating the various items of work, their estimated time durations, and their positions in the work schedule as of the report date represented by the bar chart.
However, the relationship that exists between the identiﬁed work items is by implication only. On projects of any complexity, it is difﬁcult, if not virtually impossible, to identify the interrelationships between the work items, and there is no indication of the criticality of the various activities in controlling the project duration.
The development of the critical path method (CPM) in the late 1950s provided the basis for a more formal and systematic approach to project management.
Critical path methods involve a graphical display (network diagram) of the activities on a project and their interrelationships and an arithmetic procedure that identiﬁes the relative importance of each activity in the overall project schedule. These methods have been applied with notable success to project management in the construction industry and several other industries, when applied earnestly as dynamic management tools.
Also, they have provided a much- needed basis for performing some of the other vital tasks of the construction project manager, such as resource scheduling, ﬁnancial planning, and cost control.
Today’s construction manager who ignores the use of critical path methods is ignoring a useful and practical management tool.
In the early 2000’s there was a boom period in the apartment market with a number being constructed concurrently. What was evident was the lack of skill in planning these projects past the superstructure phase.
Many apartments buildings had from 10 – 30 small shoebox size apartments on each floor and an average of 8 – 10 floors, this made a required number of resources in a small place at the same time. Some projects I was asked to review were impossible and just could not be completed in the timeframe, as too many trades were required to be inside a room in short space of time. There were some obvious errors like paint drying time was not allowed for; tiles were being laid at the same time as the ceiling was being painted.
Projects that I was involved with at the planning stage were resource leveled so there was no doubling up of resources. Projects were completed as planned.
The right time for professional planning
The right time to get professional planning is in the design stage. We can advise on possible quicker methods of construction so the project is more efficient and better timeframes indicated. Our involvement does not end at the tender phase, there is a lot to be gained for either the client / developer or the construction company. A lot of emphasis is placed on the project duration. This needs to be monitored on fortnightly / monthly basis to make sure there is an independent record/report of all construction and project activities. Any extension of time (EOT) can then call on this information as required. Any delay by the client or builder can be quickly analysed and a report can be produced. This takes the uncertainty out of construction programme issues.