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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING.

Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

Chapter 3

Introduction to Project Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

Overview: The aim of this chapter is to demonstrate, using a simple yet comprehensive case
study, the planning and control procedure that must be followed to ensure the effective
execution of a project from its inception through to its completion. The planning and control
procedure described must be adopted irrespective of the type of tool(s) being used from the
Critical Path Method (Chapter 5) to linear Scheduling (Chapter 8).

Key concepts: planning procedure, plan development, plan application, preliminary plan, base
plan, plan objectives, objective variables, scope of work, work decomposition, resource
allocation, constraint application, constraint satisfaction, optimization of objectives, actual
progress, planned progress, projected progress, communication of plan, deviation from plan,
monitoring progress, plan modification.

3.1 Overview of the Planning and Control Procedure

The full potential of construction project planning and control can only be realized if the planner follows
a rigorous procedure for its implementation. Unfortunately, steps in this procedure are often skipped or
are not applied with sufficient diligence. Consequently, many construction operational problems are
identified too late to be corrected efficiently and many opportunities for improving the performance of
work are missed. This chapter provides a thorough introduction to the planning and control procedure,
using a bus stop construction project as a simple example. The procedure is first presented from the
perspective of the general contractor operating in a traditional design-bid-construct project delivery
environment with the contract being awarded to the lowest qualified bidder. Differences in the
procedure for other parties to a project, and for other project delivery systems and contract award
methods, will be considered later in the chapter.

Figure 3.1 summarizes the main steps a contractor must follow when planning and controlling a
construction project within a design-bid-build project delivery environment. As indicated, there are two
distinct stages to this procedure:
 Plan Development: This occurs largely before construction starts, and is where the contractor
determines a realistic approach to executing the work that will satisfy all the project objectives
and constraints. The plan development stage starts with the production of a preliminary plan in
the bidding phase of the project, and then progresses (if the contractor is awarded the contract)
to the production of a more detailed base plan.

 Plan Application: This occurs mainly during the construction phase, and is where the base plan
is used to manage the project to ensure that work progresses as planned. Inevitably, there will
be a need to maintain the plan during this stage to account for changing circumstances and
more accurate information that becomes available as work progresses on site.

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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING. Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

The preliminary plan is used by the contractor in the bidding phase to help determine a basic approach
for completing the work that is feasible and competitive in terms of price and project duration.
Contractors are often required to submit a preliminary plan as part of their bid proposal package to
demonstrate they have a viable strategy for completing the work. In this case, the call for bids may
stipulate the format (including the type of planning software to use) and the amount of detail to be
included in the preliminary plan. Furthermore, the contract may also stipulate that the contractor use
this plan during the construction phase of the project as a baseline for reporting actual progress.

The base plan, in comparison, is typically more detailed than the preliminary plan. It is used by the
contractor to determine a detailed approach to performing the work that will satisfy the project
objectives and constraints, and will act as the basis for managing the project during the construction
phase. As far as possible, the base plan should be completed before the start of the construction phase,
and indeed aspects of it may be used before work begins on site, such as to identify equipment and/or
components that need to be ordered early.

Plan Development Stage: Plan Application Stage:


Project Bidding Phase: Project Construction Phase:
eliminary Plan: B.Develop Base Plan: C.Implement Base Plan:
bjectives. Review & revise objectives, as necessary.
Communicate the plan.
pe of work. Further breakdown project into discrete worktounits.
Use plan direct work.
project into discrete work units. Update resources & constraints to produce an approximate base plan.
urces & constraints to the work units to produce a 1stplan
Adjust base approximation for the preliminary
to satisfy objectives plan.
& any unresolved
D.Update Base Plan:constraints.
minary plan to satisfy objectives & any unresolved constraints.
Measure actual progress & project the future progress.
Review & revise objectives as necessary.
Update constraints & resources to produce an approximate residual plan.
Adjust residual plan to satisfy objectives & any unresolved constraints.
Repeat from step 1.

Figure 3.1: The Planning Procedure - Contractor’s Perspective for a Design-Bid-Construct project

There are two distinct functions performed in the application of the base plan during the construction
phase:
 Implement Base Plan: Here the base plan is used to communicate to relevant personnel the
work to be performed, its timing, and the resources involved. This information is used by
procurement staff to obtain the necessary resources, site managers to direct the work, and
planners to monitor and control the progress of work.

 Update Base Plan: Here the actual progress of work on site is measured and compared to the
base plan. This allows the planner to identify any deviations in progress from the base plan.
These deviations are then extrapolated to determine what can be expected to happen if the
project is allowed to follow its current course. If the deviations in progress represent a worse
than expected performance (resulting from, for example, delays, reduced productivity, or a need

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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING. Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

to perform extra work) then the plan may need to be modified to ensure that the project
objectives are still met as effectively as possible. In some circumstances, the project objectives
may no longer be fully attainable and may therefore have to be revised. It is, however, a
common mistake to think that updating the plan is solely concerned with correcting problems;
often, sections of a project will perform better than expected providing the planner with an
opportunity to better meet the project objectives. In these situations, the plan should be
reviewed to see how it may be modified to fully exploit this advantage.

The application of the plan is a cyclical process, often being repeated every month, or more frequently if
greater control is required such as when the risk of significant problems is higher.

The detailed steps in the procedure (listed in Figure 3.1) will be demonstrated in the following sections
using the practical example of the Bus Stop project illustrated in Figure 3.2. The project involves the
demolition of an existing curb and sidewalk, and the construction of a shelter with seating and lighting, a
new sidewalk and standing area, a bus bay, and a landscaped area. This example has been chosen for
ease of understanding, and while planning to the detail described here is probably overkill for such a
small project, these principles extend to any project of any size operating within a design-bid-construct
environment.

Cantilever Beam
Light
Seat

Sidewalk
Curb & Gutter
Spread Footing
& Plinth
Pavement (Bus Bay)
PLAN SIDE ELEVATION

Figure 3.2: Schematic Plan and Side Elevation for a Bus Stop Construction Project

3.2 Develop the Preliminary Plan

Establish the Objectives of the Plan

The first step in developing the preliminary plan (see Figure 3.1) is to establish its objectives. The
objectives of the plan should not be confused with its purpose. Its purpose is to help the contractor
determine (during the bidding phase) an approach for completing the work that is feasible, competitive
and, if requested, that demonstrates to the owner that the contractor has a viable strategy for

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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING. Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

completing the project satisfactorily. The objectives of the preliminary plan, on the other hand, are the
specific goals set for the key project performance parameters (the objective variables) such as cost,
duration, and quality. Example objectives for the Bus Stop project may be to seek a way of doing the
work that can be priced less than $25,000 (perhaps the contract amount for a similar project recently
awarded in the locality) and to complete the work before the completion date specified in the call for
bids. The objectives are thus specific to each project and tend to be quantitative although they are often
expressed in relative terms such as ‘less than a given value’ or ‘greater than a given value’.

Almost every project will have more than one objective to satisfy. A problem is that these objectives are
interdependent in that adjusting the plan to satisfy one often limits our ability to satisfy the others.
Thus, it is not possible to find an approach for completing the work that is optimal for all objective
variables. The objectives must be specified in a way that recognizes this reality. There are many ways
this can be done (as discussed in detail in Chapter #), though a simple yet effective approach is to allow
for one objective variable to be optimized while the others are assigned specific values that must be
satisfied. For the Bus Stop project, the objective might therefore be to determine the least expensive
approach that gets the project finished before the completion date specified in the contract. In this case,
the project cost (the primary objective variable) is optimized while the project duration (a secondary
objective variable) is assigned a specific value to be satisfied.

Other commonly considered objectives include assuring that work is conducted in a way that meets
specified quality standards or that minimizes the risk of accidents. Again, these objectives may be
interdependent with other objectives. For example, increasing the quality of work may require the use
of more time consuming procedures that make it more difficult to complete work on time. Similarly,
removing safety hazards may require some sections of work to be scheduled later to ensure that
personnel and heavy equipment are not working in proximity, which in turn may delay the completion of
work.

Regrettably, most plan development exercises focus solely on the project schedule. The objective then
becomes to satisfy deadlines, and the resultant plan is used simply to identify when resources will be
required on site and which items of work are most likely to lead to delays. Other objectives, such as
minimizing project cost, are too often dealt with informally outside of the main plan. This is unfortunate
since these objectives are often equally as important as meeting deadlines and, in any case, will affect
the project schedule. The objectives must be satisfied together within a single plan; if they are dealt
with independently of each other we will end-up with multiple plans that are likely to be incompatible.

It is important that the objectives be determined at the outset of the planning procedure to guide the
development of the plan. Once established, the rest of the plan development will be concerned with
determining an approach that will satisfy these objectives.

Identify the Scope of Work

The second step in developing the preliminary plan (see Figure 3.1) is to identify the scope of work of the
project. The plan must ultimately provide an approach for completing all relevant work. For a design-
bid-construct project delivery system, the contractor will only be concerned with planning construction
work.

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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING. Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

Identifying the work, is a relatively clear-cut task that requires the planner to examine the design
documents, such as the working drawings (see Figure 3.2 for the Bus Stop project) and specifications
and, when necessary, to consult with the designers and potential component manufacturers. The type
of information being sort is the extent of the project, its constituent components, and their size, form,
and assembly; indeed any information necessary to establish the types and quantities of work to be
performed and the resources required to achieve this end.

For design-bid-construct delivery systems, most if not all design information will be available at the start
of the bidding phase. However, there are occasions when either part of the design, or the amount of
effort required to complete a section of work, cannot be fully determined until that work is being
performed. For example, the depth to which friction piles must be sunk to achieve the required load
resistance might have to be determined during the pile sinking process if the properties of the soil are
uncertain. In such situations the planner will have to make a reasonable estimate of the amount of
work. If there is significant risk associated with the uncertainty (if, for example, it could result in long
delays or significantly higher costs) then the planner should consider using a planning tool designed to
handle uncertainty. Such tools are the subject of Chapter #.

Breakdown the Project into Discrete Work Units

A plan is in effect a model of the construction process. There are many types of model that can be used
for this purpose, each with its own point of view. However, one thing they all have in common is that
they decompose each project into a set of discrete work units which act as the main building blocks of
the model. Examples for the Bus Stop project may include work units such as ‘Roof Deck’, ‘Sidewalk’, and
‘Planting’. Decomposition of the work into discrete units is the third step in developing the preliminary
plan (see Figure 3.1). This step provides the main components from which the plan will be constructed
and so decisions made here will have a profound impact on its integrity and usefulness.

Decomposing a project into an appropriate set of work units can be a daunting task for the
inexperienced planner and for planners dealing with unfamiliar types of work. Fortunately, there is a
simple yet very effective approach that helps overcome this problem, that of the Work Breakdown
Structure (WBS). The WBS method is sufficiently versatile and powerful that it should really be used to
help develop all but the simplest of project plans, although in reality it is often omitted. The method
eases the task of decomposing a project into an appropriate set of work units, while helping to ensure
the integrity and enhance the readability of the resultant plan.

A detailed explanation and demonstration of WBS’s is provided in Chapter #, although the following
provides an overview sufficient for following this chapter. The WBS method uses a top-down approach
to decomposing a project that produces a hierarchical representation of the work. Figure 3.4(a) shows,
in a tree format, the result of applying this method to the decomposition of the Bus Stop project. Each
box in the tree represents a discrete work unit in the project, while each branch shows the
decomposition of a work unit into a set of more specific constituent units. For example, the work unit
‘Shelter’ is made-up from the constituent work units ‘Fixtures’, ‘Paint’, ‘Roof Deck’ and ‘Structural
System’. The further a box is to the left of the tree then the broader is its scope of work. The box
furthest to the left represents the entire project.

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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING. Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

Bus Stop
Light Shelter
Fixtures
Fixtures
Light
Seat
Seat
Paint
Paint

Roof Deck
Shelter Roof Deck Cross Beams
Structural System
Frame Cantilever Beams Frame
Cross Beams

Structural System Columns Cantilever Beams

Spread Footing Columns


& Plinth
Spread Footing & Plinth
Bus Stop
Sod
Sitework
Landscape
Landscape
Planting
Sod

Planting
Sidewalk
Sitework Site Improvements
Site Improvements Pavement Sidewalk

Pavement
Curb & Gutter
Curb & Gutter

Underground Electrical Underground Electrical

Site Preparation
Excavation
Site Excavation
Preparation
Demolition & Clear Demolition & Clear

(a) Tree format (b) Nested format


Figure 3.3: Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) for the Bus Stop Project

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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING. Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

The depth to which a WBS should break down a project into work units depends on the extent of the
analysis and control of the project required by the contractor, and the time and resources available to
develop, implement, and maintain the plan. The preliminary plan may not go to the same depth as the
base plan since there is less time available for its development and, from a risk-analysis perspective,
there is a significant chance that the time and money invested in its production will not be compensated
by an award of the contract. The WBS must cover all work in the project, though care must be taken to
make sure that nothing is represented more than once. In addition, each work unit must represent a
well-defined product. ‘Concrete Work’ would not normally be considered a well-defined product since it
may involve components situated at different locations on site, performed at different points in time,
and undertaken by different crews or even different subcontractors. ‘Structural System’ or ‘Curb &
Gutter’ are, on the other hand, good examples of well-defined products. That said, this is not an exact
science and there are few examples in construction of perfectly-defined products. The better defined
they are, the less complex, more insightful, and easier to use will be the resultant plan.
It is helpful when developing a WBS to arrange the work units in the order in which they are likely to
start on site. This has been done already for the Bus Stop WBS shown in Figure 3.3, with start time
increasing notionally from bottom to top. For example, ‘Sitework’ is expected to start before ‘Shelter’;
similarly, ‘Site Preparation’ is expected to start before ‘Underground Electrical’, ‘Site Improvements’ and
‘Landscape’. The order does not have to be exact, but setting the WBS out in this way adds to its
readability and will help with the next stage in developing the preliminary plan, that of adding the
constraints and resources.

Apply Resources and their Constraints

The fourth step in developing the preliminary plan (see Figure 3.1) is to add the resources and the
constraints on their usage. Resources are the items required to execute the work such as materials,
prefabricated components, equipment, labor, supervisors, space, time, design documents, permits, and
money. They are included within the plan for two reasons:
1. To monitor their usage and the progress of work.
2. To ensure the plan avoids conflicts and irregularities in the usage of resources.
Constraints are restrictions placed on the resources to avoid conflicts and irregularities in their
usage. The plan must determine an approach to completing the work that satisfies these
constraints. Common examples of constraints are:
1. Restrictions on the order in which work must be performed. Example: to complete the
construction of the foundations before starting erection of the steel frame.
2. Limits on the times at which resources can be used or processed. Examples: to have
crews work a five day week; to not seed a lawn until the fall.
3. Limits on the quantity of a resource available at any time. Examples: to keep the
differential between payments made and payments received within a line of credit; to
keep the demand for excavators at or below the maximum number available.
4. Minimizing fluctuations in the demand for a resource over time. Example: to ensure a
smooth demand for general laborers required on site (large and frequent fluctuations in
demand will result in portions of the labor force spending time idle).
There are many resources involved in the execution of a project although, fortunately, just a few of these
need to be monitored or are likely to lead to conflicts in use that will impede the progress of work. Only
these key resources should be included explicitly within the plan. This will help reduce the time required

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to develop the plan and prevent overloading its users with irrelevant information. This is especially
important for the preliminary plan since the time available for its development is often very limited.

The addition of the resources and their constraints provides a first estimate of the likely performance
and demands of the project such as its duration, the schedule for key resources, and the elements of the
plan that may need changing in order to meet the project objectives. It should be emphasized, however,
that the plan produced at this step is only a first approximation and will likely have to be modified to
satisfy all the objectives and any unresolved constraints.

The order in which the resources and their constraints are added to the plan does not, in principle,
matter since the plan cannot be applied until they have all been included. That said, most planning
software tools allow the plan to be updated on-the-fly, as resources and their constraints are added, in
which case it can be helpful to start with those that are likely to have the greatest impact on the
performance of the project. This way, the planner can get a better feel for the viability of the plan earlier
in the development process. For CPM (the Critical Path Method - the most widely used planning tool in
construction and the subject of Chapter #), the most significant constraints are the dependencies. These
are the main factor determining the relative timing of work in a project, and typically require that a
specified unit of work be completed before another can start. In this sense, they constrain the timing of
all resources employed by the work units. An example pair of dependencies for the Bus Stop project is
that neither ‘Sidewalk’ nor ‘Pavement’ can start until ‘Curb & Gutter’ has finished. This is illustrated in
Figure 3.4 where the tasks are represented by the boxes and their dependencies are indicated by the
arrows, with time shown to be advancing to the right.

Sidewalk

Curb &
Gutter time
Pavement

Figure 3.4: Example of Dependencies for the Bus Stop Project

A powerful approach to developing a CPM-based plan, albeit unconventional, is to add the dependencies
directly to the plan’s WBS. For this purpose, the WBS should be represented in a nested format rather
than a tree format, as shown in Figure 3.3 (b) for the Bus Stop project. In the nested format, each box
represents a work unit (just as for the tree format) but its constituent work units are now grouped inside
it rather than out on a branch to its right. Chapter # provides a detailed description of the rules and
procedures that must be followed when adding dependencies to a plan, although it should be noted
here that where possible work should be allowed to occur concurrently. The more concurrency in the
plan then generally the sooner work will be completed. Figure 3.5 shows the result of adding the
dependencies to the nested WBS of the Bus Stop project (a detailed discussion of these dependencies is
provided in Chapter #).

The next most significant constraints in a CPM-based plan are the durations required to complete each
work unit. Typically these are measured to the nearest day. Figure 3.6 shows the result of adding the
durations to the work units of the Bus Stop project. The figure shows the project in its WBS format but
now with time scaled along the horizontal axis. The boxes still represent the work units, but their
lengths represent their duration, their left edges are positioned at their planned start time and their right
edges are positioned at their planned finish time. ‘Curb & Gutter’, for example, is scheduled to start on

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Monday June 1st and finish on Thursday June 4th (a 4 day period). Usually, it is the durations of the
lowest level work units that need to be specified (such as ‘U/G Electrical’, ‘Planting’ and ‘Seat’ in Figure
3.5) with the durations of higher level work units (such as ‘Sitework’ and ‘Structural System’) being
defined implicitly by their constituent work units. Determining the duration for a work unit is the subject
of Section #, but is typically calculated based on three parameters: the amount of work to be performed;
the number of crews available to complete the work; and the production rate of those crews.

The periods of time when work can and cannot proceed represent another set of important constraints
on a plan. Working and non-working periods need only be measured to the smallest unit of time
considered by the plan. For most CPM studies this will normally be the day. It is often the case that
different crews work to different daily schedules. For example, some may follow a five day working week
while others (perhaps performing more time critical tasks) may follow a six day working week. Figure 3.7
shows the result of applying a six day working week for all crews to the Bus Stop project plan, with
Sunday being the non-working day. In this case, the completion of the project is pushed back 5 days.

The last type of constraint that will be considered here is a limit on the quantity of a resource available at
any time. If ‘Demolition & Clear’, ‘Excavation’, and ‘Underground Electrical’ in the Bus Stop project
require 1 excavator each, then according to the schedule shown in Figure 3.7 the resultant demand for
excavators over time would be as plotted in Figure 3.8(a). According to this plot, the demand for
excavators peaks at 2 between May 29 th and June 2nd. Given that there are up to 2 excavators available
until June 6th the constraint is satisfied. As a second example, consider the problem of ensuring that
neither ‘Shelter Seat’ nor ‘Light’ occur at the same time as ‘Roof Deck’ for safety reasons (we would not
want to risk the roofing crew dropping materials or tools on the electrician working below). This
constraint can be imposed by specifying each of these work units requires a notional permit for access to
this space and limiting the availability of this permit to 1 at any time. Figure 3.8(b) plots the resulting
demand for the space permit, showing a peak demand on June 23 rd and 24th that violates the availability
constraint. This violation could be removed by either delaying ‘Roof Deck’ or ‘Light’. However, adjusting
the plan to satisfy this constraint should not be attempted until all resources and constraints have been
added; satisfaction of all constraints along with the plan’s objectives is something that must be done
simultaneously to ensure that the best overall solution is found, as discussed later.

Not all resources are added to a plan to ensure satisfaction of a constraint on their usage. Some are
added simply to allow monitoring of their usage and/or because they provide a good indicator of overall
progress in the project. For the preliminary plan in a design-bid-construct environment, project costs
(representing the resource type money) are of interest since they are in part dependent on the schedule
and are fundamental to determining the price the contractor should bid for the project. Cost is a good
variable to include in the plan in any case since it provides a universal means of measuring work. Figure
3.9 shows the result of adding direct costs to the plan. The direct costs are those associated with
actually performing the work such as the costs of materials, equipment, labor, and supervision. Indirect
costs could also have been added to the plan to cover items such as administrative overheads,
contingencies, profit, and late completion penalties, and indeed should be added if time-cost
optimization is required (this is a topic that will be returned to in Chapter #). In Figure 3.9, costs are
represented by the vertical axis and are shown to accumulate within the higher level work units. For
example, the height of the box representing ‘Frame’ is $5,000 and is the sum of the direct costs of its
constituent work units ‘Columns’, ‘Cantilever Beams’ and ‘Cross Beams’, while the direct costs for the
entire project add up to $23,500.

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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING. Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

A popular alternative means of representing costs is to plot them as cumulative curves, showing how
they add-up over time. Cumulative cost curves provide a powerful device for understanding the
projected progress of work. Figures 3.10(a) to 3.10(d) show the cumulative cost curves for the Bus Stop
project. The first of these shows the cumulative costs at the highest level in the WBS. This would be
useful for understanding the expected overall progress in the project and, given that these curves deal
with costs, to help in determining an appropriate line of credit to secure for financing the project.
Subsequent figures in this group show the cumulative progress at lower levels within the WBS, each
providing insight to the expected progress of work at its respective level. Figure 3.10(b), for example,
shows the cumulative costs separately for ‘Sitework’ and ‘Shelter’.

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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING. Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

Bus Stop
Shelter
Fixtures
Seat Light

Structural System
Frame
Spread Foot- Cantilever
Columns Cross Beams Roof Deck Paint
ing & Plinth Beams

Sitework Underground
Electrical
Site Improvements Landscape
Site Preparation Sidewalk Sod
Demolition & Curb &
Excavation
Clear Gutter
Pavement Planting

Figure 3.5: Addition of Dependencies to the Bus Stop WBS

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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING. Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

Bus Stop Shelter Fixtures


Light
Seat

Paint

Roof Deck
Structural Frame
Cross Beams
Ctlvr. Beams
Columns

Spread Footing & Plinth

Sitework Landscape
Sod

Planting

Site Improve-
Sidewalk
ments
Pavement

Curb & Gutter

U/G Electrical
Site Preparation
Excavation
Demol. & Clear

Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
24 2526 2728 2930 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

MAY JUNE

Figure 3.6: Addition of Durations to the Work Units of the Bus Stop Plan

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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING. Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

Bus Stop Shelter Fixtures Light


Seat

Paint
Roof Deck
Structural Frame
Cross Beams
Ctlvr. Beams
Columns

Spread Footing & Plinth

Sitework
Sod Landscape

Planting
Site Improvements
Sidewalk
Pavement
Curb & Gutter

U/G Electrical
Site Preparation
Excavation
Demol. & Clear

Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
24 2526 2728 2930 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
MAY JUNE

Figure 3.7: Addition of Non-Working Days to the Bus Stop Plan

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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING. Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

Excavators Peak demand


2 Maximum constraint
U/G Electrical
1
Demol. & Clear Excavation
0
Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
24 2526 2728 2930 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
MAY JUNE

(a) Excavators

Shelter Space Permits


Maximum constraint ‘Roof Deck’ and ‘Light’ cause a violation of the constraint
2
Light
1 Seat Roof Deck
0
Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
24 2526 2728 2930 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
MAY JUNE

(b) Shelter Space Permits Showing Violation of the Maximum Demand Constraint

Shelter Space Permits


2 Maximum constraint Delaying ‘Light’ satisfies the constraint

1 Seat Roof Deck Light


0
Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
24 2526 2728 2930 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
MAY JUNE

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(c) Shelter Space Permits if ‘Light’ Starts Three Days Later


Figure 3.8: Demand Plots for Resources Added to the Bus Stop Project
Direct Costs ($)
25,000
Light
Bus Stop Shelter Seat Fixtures
Paint
Roof Deck
20,000 Structural Frame Cross Beams

Ctlvr. Beams

Columns
15,000
Spread Footing & Plinth
Sitework Sod Landscape

Planting
10,000

Site Improvements Sidewalk


Pavement
Curb & Gutter
5,000
U/G Electrical

Site Preparation
Excavation

Demol. & Clear


0

Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
24 2526 2728 2930 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
MAY JUNE

Figure 3.9: Plot of Direct Costs vs. Time for the Bus Stop Project

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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING. Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

Direct Costs ($)


25,000

Bus Stop

Planned progress
KEY:
(1st level)
20,000

15,000

10,000

5,000

Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
24 2526 2728 2930 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
MAY JUNE
st
(a) 1 Level Work Unit (overall project)
Figure 3.10: Plot of Cumulative Direct Cost Curves for the Bus Stop Project

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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING. Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

Direct Costs ($)


25,000

Bus Stop Shelter

Planned progress
KEY: (2nd level)
20,000

15,000

Sitework

10,000

5,000

Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
24 2526 2728 2930 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
MAY JUNE
nd
(b) 2 Level Work Units
Figure 3.10: Plot of Cumulative Direct Cost Curves for the Bus Stop Project

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© Ian Flood, 2009. Section II: BASIC PLANNING. Chapter 3: Introduction to Project Level Planning - Bus Stop Case Study

Direct Costs ($)


25,000

Bus Stop Shelter Fixtures


Paint
Planned progress
KEY: (3rd level) Roof Deck
20,000 Structural

15,000

Sitework Landscape

10,000

Site Improvements

5,000 U/G Electrical

Site Preparation

Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
24 2526 2728 2930 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
MAY JUNE

(c) 3rd Level Work Units


Figure 3.10: Plot of Cumulative Direct Cost Curves for the Bus Stop Project

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Direct Costs ($)


25,000
Light
Bus Stop Shelter Seat Fixtures
Paint
Planned progress
KEY: (4th level) Roof Deck
20,000 Structural Frame

15,000
Spread Footing & Plinth
Sitework Sod Landscape

Planting
10,000

Site Improvements Sidewalk


Pavement
Curb & Gutter
5,000
U/G Electrical

Site Preparation
Excavation

Demol. & Clear


0

Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
24 2526 2728 2930 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
MAY JUNE

(d) 4th Level Work Units


Figure 3.10: Plot of Cumulative Direct Cost Curves for the Bus Stop Project

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Direct Costs ($)


25,000
Light
Bus Stop Shelter Seat Fixtures
Paint
Planned progress
KEY: (lowest level) Roof Deck
20,000 Structural Frame Cross Beams

Ctlvr. Beams

Columns
15,000
Spread Footing & Plinth
Sitework Sod Landscape

Planting
10,000

Site Improvements Sidewalk


Pavement
Curb & Gutter
5,000
U/G Electrical

Site Preparation
Excavation

Demol. & Clear


0

Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
24 2526 2728 2930 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
MAY JUNE

(e) Lowest Level Work Units


Figure 3.10: Plot of Cumulative Direct Cost Curves for the Bus Stop Project

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As a final point, a review of the objectives of the plan should be made when assigning the resources and
constraints to make sure that the plan includes the necessary information to satisfy them. For example,
if one of the objectives is to minimize costs then all costs (direct and indirect) should be included so that
it can be seen how they respond to changes in the plan. If safety is an explicit objective, then the
necessary constraints should be included that ensure that, for example, only essential personnel operate
in the proximity of dangerous equipment or hazardous materials. Needless to say, once all resources
and constraints have been added, the planner should go back and check that all key resources and
constraints have been added, and done so correctly. While this is a time consuming task, it is essential to
the validity of the plan since errors and omissions are almost inevitable on a first attempt.

Satisfy all Objectives and Constraints

The final step in developing the preliminary plan (see Figure 3.1) is to adjust it to ensure that all
constraints and objectives are satisfied. There may be many ways of completing the work that are viable
and so the goal becomes to find the best within the choices available. Consider for example, a situation
where the objectives of the Bus Stop project are: (i) to complete the work by Saturday July 27 th; and (ii)
to complete the work at the lowest total cost possible (direct cost plus indirect cost). The plan as shown
in Figure 3.9 satisfies the completion date, but there may be a way of achieving this at a lower total cost
as indicated in Figure 3.11. In any case, the plan as shown Figure 3.9 does not satisfy the constraint on
the availability of Shelter Space Permits (see Figure 3.8).

Total Project Cost ($) =


Direct Costs + Indirect Costs

$24,500

Lowest attainable
project cost

Project Completion Date


July July July
20th 23rd 27th
Shortest attainable
Contract latest completion date
project duration
Optimum solution

Figure 3.11: Relationship between Total Project Cost and Project Completion Date

Satisfying the constraint on the availability of the Shelter Space Permits can be achieved by either
delaying ‘Light’ or ‘Roof Deck’ so that they do not overlap in time. Delaying ‘Light’ by three days, as
shown in Figure 3.12, would appear to be the better option since it does not delay the project
completion date. However, for more complicated projects with many constraints that must be resolved
simultaneously, all potentially impacting each other, the best solution may not be so obvious. More
powerful CPM software implementations will be able to perform this type of constraint satisfaction
automatically.

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Satisfying the objective of minimizing the total cost is not so straightforward. Chapter # is dedicated to
this topic, but essentially the procedure requires a range of project durations to be tested to see how
this impacts total cost. Reducing the project duration requires the addition of more resources and/or
higher performing resources to critical work units, with the intent of reducing their duration. The critical
work units are those that determine the duration of the entire project so reducing their duration tends
to reduce the project duration (this is the subject of Chapter #). The sequence of critical work units (the
critical path) for the Bus Stop project is shown in Figure 3.13. On the down side, reducing the duration
of a work unit tends to reduce its efficiency and thus increases the direct costs. On the plus side,
reducing the project duration tends to reduce the indirect costs for the project. The net effect is a total
cost curve that looks something like that shown in Figure 3.11. From this figure it can be seen that the
project duration that gets work completed by July 23 rd both satisfies the contract completion date and
minimizes the total costs for the project, thereby satisfying the objectives for the project.

Fixtures Light Light

Paint
Roof Deck
Cross Beams
Ctlvr. Beams

Landscape

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

Figure 3.12: Delaying the Work Unit ‘Light’ to Remove its Space Conflict with ‘Roof Deck’

Although there may not be sufficient time available in the bidding phase to complete the development
of the preliminary plan as thoroughly as described here, the planner should nevertheless do the best job
possible. The more thoroughly this step is completed then the more opportunity there is for producing a
bid that is both competitive and realistic.

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Bus Stop Shelter Fixtures Light


Seat
KEY:
Paint
Critical work unit
Roof Deck
Non-Critical work unit Structural Frame Cross Beams
Ctlvr. Beams
Columns
Spread Footing & Plinth
Sitework Sod Landscape
Planting
Site Improvements Sidewalk
Pavement
Curb & Gutter
U/G Electrical
Excavation
Site Preparation
Demol. & Clear

Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu WeTh Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
24 2526 2728 2930 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
MAY JUNE

Figure 3.13: Critical Path through Lowest Level Work Units

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3.3 Develop the Base Plan

Assuming the contractor is awarded the contract, the next step will be to develop the base plan. The
purpose of the base plan is to establish a detailed approach to completing the work that is feasible and
optimal in terms of the project objectives, and to provide the basis for managing the project during the
construction phase. In particular, it will be used to determine when key resources will be required on
site (to help avoid delays in their procurement), identify work that is susceptible to delays and thus will
require close supervision (such as work that is critical or has limited float), and act as a template against
which the actual progress of work on site can be measured and projected. Ideally, the base plan should
be completed before the start of construction, and early enough to arrange for the timely delivery of
resources that are required early yet may have a long lead time between ordering and delivery.

The steps involved in developing the base plan are shown in Figure 3.1. The first of these is to review
and revise the objectives of the plan in the light of any new information that may have arisen since
development of the preliminary plan. The objectives may, in any case, be extended at this point given
that there will be more time available to modify and adjust the plan to satisfy them.

The second step in developing the base plan is to break down the work identified in the preliminary plan
into more detail. This is not always necessary, but could happen because there is additional time
available to make a more in-depth analysis of the problem. It is also often the case that the demands of
the base plan are such that it requires more detail. If, for example, the risks on the project are such that
tight control is necessary, then the base plan will have to be broken down into greater detail.

The third step in the development of the base plan is concerned with updating the resources and
constraints. This may be necessary to account for any new information that becomes available about the
project, such as, more accurate performance or cost data for labor, equipment, or materials. It may also
be required to account for any additional objectives added to the project since development of the
preliminary plan. Consider, for example, the Bus Stop plan shown in Figure 3.10; if it were determined
that ‘Spread footing & Plinth’ should be completed by Jun 10th because the subcontractors performing
the succeeding work ‘Frame’ need to be on site by June 11th, then a constraint would have to be added
to the plan stipulating this requirement.

The final step in developing the base plan is to adjust it to satisfy all objectives and unresolved
constraints. The process followed for this is exactly the same as that adopted for finalizing the
preliminary plan. Once

3.4 Implement the Plan

Communicate the Plan

Once completed, the Base Plan will be used as a tool to help manage the construction of the project. An
essential component of this implementation process is to communicate the plan, or the relevant parts
thereof, to the personnel who will use it to execute the work (see Figure 3.1). This may include the
purchasing department, project managers, and site-level managers, indeed anyone responsible for
organizing the timely delivery and provision of all resources, managing the work, and assessing its
performance.

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Most groups involved in implementing the plan will only be concerned with part of the information it
provides. While it is important to make sure that each group receives all information relevant to their
responsibilities, they should receive no more than this. Burdening personnel with volumes of irrelevant
information increases the likelihood that they will miss what is important to them or even ignore the
plan. Just as importantly, the information presented to a group should be in a format that best suits
their needs. For example, more senior management may require plots of cumulative progress for the
entire project, whereas a foreman may need a bar chart schedule and list of resources required to
complete a specific section of the project termed a short interval schedule.

The short interval schedule, discussed in detail in Chapter #, is designed to help manage the day to day
activities on a construction site. Each short interval schedule will focus on a specific operation, will only
project a few weeks into the future, and may summarize the last week of work. These would typically be
produced at the end of each week in preparation for the next week. Each company will have its own
format for this type of information although Figure 3.14 shows a typical example for the structural
component of the Bus Stop project. Each work unit is shown twice, once representing the previous
version of the plan, and the second showing the latest plan. Progress is also indicated by shading of the
bars. In this example, work has been progressing better than originally expected and so the latest plan is
one day ahead of the previous plan. As is fairly typical, this short interval schedule also identifies the
major resources required to complete the work, including drawings.

Use Plan to Direct Work

Once the plan has been distributed to the relevant personnel, every endeavor should be made to ensure
that they use it to help direct the work; this is the second step in implementing the base plan (see Figure
3.1). An extremely important task here is to make sure that all resources are available when required on
site. If resources are delivered too late then they may lead to delays to the completion of the work, or
use up contingency time thereby making the project more vulnerable to delays by other causes. Such
occurrences may require expensive procedures to be adopted to get the project back on schedule. In
particular, some components may involve a lengthy prefabrication process and so may need to be
ordered early to ensure that they are delivered in a timely manner. On the other hand, if resources such
as materials, components, or equipment arrive on site too early they will be more susceptible to damage
and theft, and may occupy valuable space that could be used more effectively for other purposes.
Likewise, the productive resources (such as equipment, labor, and site managers) should be scheduled to
be available only for the periods of time they are required on site. If these resources arrive too early
and/or are reserved longer than required, they will end up spending time idle and consequently will add
unnecessarily to the cost of construction. The ordering and reservation of resources must be made as
soon as possible, and should be based upon the predicted start and finish times of the relevant work
units that make-up the base plan. The short interval schedules (see for example Figure 3.14) should be
used by site-level management to complement this by ensuring the acquisition and deployment of all
necessary resources for specific operations, close to the time they are required.

It should be noted that the timing of work cannot usually be determined precisely, and indeed there are
many factors in construction that add a considerable amount of uncertainty to these estimates. When
this is sufficient to cause the risk of significant delays or additional costs, the planner should make use of
planning tools designed to manage uncertainty, such as the Monte Carlo method. Effective planning in
an uncertain project environment is the subject of Chapter #.

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KEY:
Completed work Remaining work ~ Revised plan showing progress
Previous plan ~ Plan from previous planning cycle

Time Now
Comment:
Structural Cross Beams
Equipment X’’. Labor Y’’. Drawings Z’’.
Cross Beams
Ctlvr. Beams
Equipment X’. Labor Y’. Drawings Z’.
Ctlvr. Beams
Columns Completed
Columns
Spread Footing & Plinth
Completed
Spread Footing & Plinth

We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
JUNE

Figure 3.14: Short Interval Schedule for the Structural System Crew

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Managers should also use the base plan to identify the sections of work that require closest attention.
Generally, a project is most vulnerable to delays from work that is critical or close to critical since the
smallest delays here will impact the overall progress of the project. Critical work requires close
monitoring to allow early detection of problems, and careful supervision to try to alleviate or prevent
those problems from occurring in the first place. Figure 3.13 identifies the work units that are critical in
the Bus Stop project. Notice that these form a contiguous path from the start to the finish of the project,
with ‘Paint’ and ‘Light’ forming concurrent branches towards the end of the path. These work units
should certainly be a focus of attention, although other work may be close to critical and should also be
of concern. How close work is to being critical is measured by what is termed its total float, a topic that
will be discussed in detail in Chapter #. Total float should not be considered on its own as a measure of
criticality, but rather looked at within the context of other attributes of the work such as its overall
duration and its vulnerability to delays.

3.5 Update the Residual Plan

Measure Actual Progress and Project Future Progress

Review and Revise Objectives

Update Resources and Constraints

Satisfy all Objectives and Constraints

3.6 Alternative Parties and Project Delivery Systems

65