swaney logo

Critical Path Method Construction Tools and Techniques

Scheduling involves listing activities, deliverables, and milestones of a construction project. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of scheduling in construction projects. A good construction schedule answers important questions such as:

➢ What tasks need to be performed?
➢ When and in what order?
➢ How long will every task take?
➢ What resources are needed for each task?
➢ Who are the employees with the knowledge and skills required to perform these tasks? Do those employees also have enough time?
➢ Are there any task dependencies? What is their nature?
➢ What are the project milestones?

An effective construction schedule ensures that there are no unpleasant surprises. It improves quality control by properly sequencing the work and gives clients, vendors, designers, and subcontractors enough time to better plan their own activities.

Critical Path Method Construction

Critical path method (or CPM) involves listing all project activities and their dependencies. The critical path is the longest sequence of project activities that must be completed on time in order to finish the project. This scheduling method establishes and assigns start & end dates based on key indicators of how activities should be sequenced.

The method takes into account the best and worst-case timelines for every activity. A network diagram is used to visually represent the sequence of activities. The diagram can be used to identify the activities that must be completed at a particular time in order to avoid delays. The CPM project scheduling methodology is most often required or included as a part of the plans and specifications when a Construction project in California is put out to bid.

The following are construction scheduling techniques and tools commonly used by the construction industry in California in conjunction with Critical Path Method Scheduling software.

Bar Chart Technique

Using bar charts is a summary level preliminary technique used to begin building your schedule. Every activity to be performed is represented by a bar showing the start date and completion date of the task. Bar charts are plotted on project timescales. They can be used to roughly gauge the number of resources needed for every activity and to assist in building a rough outline of a more detailed CPM Schedule

Microsoft Project

Microsoft project is scheduling software that allows a project manager to create a summary level Gantt/Bar chart by listing projected planned activities. It is not recommended for construction projects with more than 100 activities as it can become cumbersome to manage. It supplies basic prebuilt reports that can be customized to the type of construction taking place and allows the user to track, check, and report on a small project’s progress.

Primavera P6

For more complex projects it is recommended and often required to use Primavera P6 scheduling software. California Public agencies, including the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS), specify the use of Primavera P6 for larger construction projects. Primavera P6 allows activities to be scheduled according to resource restrictions while also allowing project managers to include complex shift calendars in project plans. P6 also has the capability to track allocated resources and costs associated with the construction of your project. The Swaney Corporation-Crowe Construction offers professional construction management and scheduling services. Our pros have years of experience making construction schedules with pinpoint accuracy. To learn more, call (707) 665-9668.