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News & Press: 2019 News items

The Critical Path: Critical to Project Cost Control

Saturday, 16 February 2019   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Bert vd Heever
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The old adage that “time is money” also holds true when it comes to the construction industry but QS’s as the “financial managers” of the project, tend to leave revisions of the date for practical completion to the principal agent instead of getting actively involved and so assisting and empowering principal agents in their task.

Contracts generally used in the local construction industry do not specify how the duration of a project should be monitored and adjusted.

The latest version of the JBCC PBA says the contractor shall (in clause 12.2.6): “Prepare and submit to the principal agent within fifteen (15) working days of receipt of construction information a programme for the works in sufficient detail to enable the principal agent to monitor progress of the works” (emphasis is mine).

A simple bar chart will suffice in monitoring the progress of the works but will be of little value when considering extension of time claims unless it was derived from a critical path programme.

Clause 23.2 of the JBCC PBA lists thirteen events that lead not only to a revision of the date for practical completion, but also to an adjustment of the contract value. The contract, however, offers no assistance in how these events should be evaluated.

Contract instructions, for instance, could lead to concurrent delays where two or more instructions are issued that happen concurrently but only the instruction that impacts on the duration of the works should be evaluated and considered when adjusting the time-related items priced in the P&G.

Here is a 15 minute overview of the critical path method that you may find interesting:

Small- to medium-sized and even some large contractors seldom have the in-house ability to provide the principal agent with a CPM programme and this leaves us in a quandary if we wish to control costs associated with the duration of the project.

Project teams sometimes do not have the knowledge required to interpret a CPM programme when it is presented to them and are then at the mercy of the contractor when events impact on the critical path.

In my opinion this may be one of the reasons why many projects are tackled with a "hope-for-the-best" attitude and why so few projects finish on time.

So what are some of the possible solutions to these problems?

  1. Familiarise ourselves with Project Time Management as defined and explained in the PMBOK Guide that can be obtained for about R1,300.00 from Takealot or Loot.
  2. Specify in the P&G what will be required for an acceptable programme. The contractor can then price against this item to have the programme compiled and updated by a skilled person. If we insist on “proper” programs, contractors will develop the capacity to do so.
  3. Include a rudimentary CPM programme with the procurement documents, preferably in electronic format so that tenderers can use it to determine whether they have the resources to meet the programme.

These are my personal suggestions, but what do you think should be done to improve time management in the built environment in South Africa? Please leave your comments below.

Article by Bert van den Heever

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Association of South African Quantity Surveyors


Bennett Fendt (Umhlanga Rocks) says...
Posted Sunday, 17 February 2019
Nice Bert, I wonder if ASAQS could run a seminar on this at a reasonable charge. Kind regards Greg Fendt