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Critical Path Method (CPM) Schedule - Preparation and Review


For some time now, the construction and aerospace and defense industries have embraced the practice and use of critical path method (CPM) scheduling as a project management tool to plan, coordinate and schedule the execution of construction-related projects. Through the identification of discrete work activities required to complete the project and the relationship of those activities to one another, CPM scheduling allows for the determination of what activities are critical to completing the project, those that must be performed on their early start and finish dates to avoid any delay to the project’s completion. Therefore, non-critical activities have the ability to be delayed in their start and/or finish by some defined amount of time, commonly referred to as “float,” without the risk of delaying the project.

On or about the commencement of a project, a baseline CPM schedule is developed, typically by the general contractor or construction manager, to provide an understanding of how the contractor intends to orchestrate its subcontractors and timely execute the project. Once this baseline schedule is published, the contractor’s progress can be periodically monitored and evaluated to determine what activities are critical to completing the project by updating the baseline schedule. This updating process requires the observation of work completed to date and an understanding of how the contractor intends to proceed with the balance of the work remaining as of the observation date, or data date.

Exponent assists its clients by providing services related to the project’s baseline, or as-planned, CPM schedule, as well as the updating of a CPM schedule to recognize progress achieved through a date certain. Exponent’s Construction Consulting staff has expertise in preparing a baseline CPM schedule to ensure that the schedule is reflective of the project’s scope, and consistent with contract prescribed scheduling specifications and the contractor’s intended planned for executing the project. Additionally, Exponent recognizes the importance of properly updating the CPM schedule to include the current scope of work remaining, actual start and finish dates for activities completed, and the work sequencing for the balance of the work remaining as of the data date.

Whether it’s a baseline or an update, if a CPM schedule review is required, Exponent can provide these services to clients so details of the plan or the reported status can be thoroughly understood and management actions taken, if necessary, to reduce risk. Exponent also can examine a project schedule to determine whether logic and/or duration issues exist that could skew the forecast depicted in the schedule. In order for this management tool to be effective, it must accurately reflect the scope of the work and plan remaining as of the data date.

Exponent Construction Consulting staff has performed baseline schedule and update preparation and review services for clients on a variety of project types.