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This is something I’ve blogged on about recently but is, IMHO, such an important issue I’m at it again!

In my career, especially when I became a certificated smart-a*se, I had a lot of project turnaround contracts. I’d wander onto the site, find where my new office was supposed to be and start trying to find out what was going on. Amongst the (often) un-filed paperwork I’d come across a “Construction Programme” (CP). “Ah, good!” I’d mutter to myself – but that was before I’d had a good look at the damned thing!

Once I had I would become clear that all it amounted to was a quick and easy re-hash of a Master Build Programme that someone had cobbled together to go with the Tender that had been submitted! Absolutely useless for Construction Management! It would have a list of Tasks something like:-

  1. Set up Site – 2 weeks
  2. Erect Tin Shed No.1 – 12 weeks
  3. Fit out – 12 weeks
  4. Erect Tin Shed No.2 – 12 weeks
  5. Fit out – 12 weeks
  6. Erect Tin Shed No.3 – etc.!
  7. Fit out -etc.!
  8. Handover

What Use is That To Man or Beast???

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It doesn’t give anyone any idea of who should be doing what, when or where!!! Even if the site management and the subbies had a bit of a chat about it and came to some sort of agreement about what order things should happen in, nobody had thought to make sure that the material procurement periods were such that they had some stuff to work with!!! So what happens if the name gets changed from “Construction Programme” to “Detailed Programme to Completion” (DPC)?

“Headology”, my dear fellows! Just the word “Detailed” makes someone think “Gosh, we’d better think about this!” That means they’ll get someone capable of doing planning to get on the job! The Planner will have a good study of the drawings, inspect the site then hold discussions with the Subbies about time scales and material availability.

Once they are happy with what they have come up with on their nice new DPC a copy will go out to everyone involved in the Project, including, probably, the Client. Instead of the 8 Tasks on the CP there will probably be about 20,000 on the DPC! Everyone will know what they should be doing, where and when! – and when materials have to be ordered!

Work starts and Progress will be marked up on the DPC at least once a week (hint: GenieBelt keeps this all up to date for you automatically). If any Task is running late, then everyone will know and something can be done about it pdq! If that Task happens to be on the Critical Path then drastic action can be taken!

The down-side of a DPC, from the Main Contractors point of view is, of course, that Planning experts don’t come cheap and it can’t be done in one day! They will have to cough up about £20,000 in wages to get it done by a competent Planner. However, however …..

It comes to the end of the project and, had that £20k been spent in the beginning, it would have been a darned sight cheaper that the Delay and LAD they now face! In fact, the harsh reality is that many construction companies never actually get to the end of the project without their DPC! They over-run on time to the extent that they run out of cash and go bust!

So, my advice to everyone is never, ever start on site without a Detailed Programme to Completion already done and dusted! If you can’t afford to pay for a Planner, don’t tender for the work!