Back To Basics

Construction planning can be such a complicated subject, so complicated in fact that the basics are forgotten all too often.

The simple things can be the most important and make life a lot easier in the long run. When I review a programme I start with the basics and then move onto the detail and get as far into this part as necessary but I often come across issues with the basic elements of the programme.

These problems normally come when the programme has not been produced by a planner. Here are a few of the basics that need to be right for a programme:



Constraints are a pin or a flag that artificially holds an activity or milestone in place. They override the logic that would have moved the item if it wasn't for the constraint. These can take many forms. (Must start on, Must finish on, Must start on or after, Must finish on or before to name a few) There are rare instances where these need to be used but they are often used far too often to make a programme look right and to move activities where people want them rather than by using the logic.

Constrains manipulate float and depending on which one is being used all of the float can be artificially used to create a fake critical path.

The overuse of constraints is bad practice and from a basics point of view they should be avoided as much as possible. As I said there are rare instances where its perfectly reasonable to use them but generally speaking there should be a logical explanation of the positioning of a milestone or activity.



Calendars signify the working pattern of each activity within the programme. Its important to get these right from the outset. Not everything will have the same calendar, the likes of approval periods, statutory notices or curing times may be in calendar days while other activities in working days. Some operations may be a 5d per week while others work 6d.

Some operations are seasonal and the only way to get the float to report correctly on these activities is to have them on a seasonal calendar.

A common mistake in the rail industry is surrounding possession. There is often heavily restricted access for certain works that need to be done outside of the operational hours or during a closure. Where these are planned a possession calendar for those activities should be created. Quite often these activities will just be held with a constraint instead.

Without a specific calendar the float wont report correctly and the programme wont have flexibility to move when change and asbuilt progress is added.



I'm not suggesting every programme should consider every person, tool or item of plant as this would rarely be accurate or manageable but to gang level this is practical. If there is any resource logic within the programme (i.e we only priced this based on 3 gangs) then show this within the programme. Its amazing how many times the price and the programme aren't aligned in this respect. This will also help show the rate of work and the continuity. As change and progress is added the resources can be reviewed on a regular basis.

Its a very simple process to follow but one that is often forgotten. Adding the level of resource and the resource logic to a programme will help in all situations.


There are many more I could continue with but this is a taster for now. As you can see these are three simple things that if done right will benefit the programme and help project delivery. They also help in the assessment of change. In a detailed assessment any manipulation of float will be dismissed and the entitlement calculated from the true amount. Having a programme that shows more resource than allowed for in the price also wont do any party any favours.

These basics will help in getting things done easier and quicker. If you want any assistance with programmes then please contact us on the details below.


KCES Limited provide Tender, Delivery, Change & Delay programme management services to the construction industry. For more information on how we can help click one of the links below:

Tender Programmes

Programme Management

Change Management

Schedule Risk Analysis

Project Compliance

Online Training

For any further information or to discuss any programme requirements contact us on:

Tel: 01379 668860


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