Can Going Slower Improve Your Programme?

This might sound crazy to a lot of people and I'm aware its an oxymoron but going slower may improve your programme.

Here's a scenario to help make my point.

A linear road scheme has experienced some delays forcing trades closer to one another. Access cant be improved and there is only a finite area to work in. As the trades get closer multiple delays and costs start coming in.

The project was originally planned in a way for each trade to conveniently follow on from the previous up the linear project. This now results in a fragmented work pattern along the job with multiple trades "piggy backing" to find work areas for their resource.

This will no doubt result in lower outputs (due to continuity of work and the disruption caused by multiple trades in a small area). There will most likely be increased mobilisation costs to be borne and there may even be times where areas are not available which increases standing time.

This is all because the project is trying to deliver the scheme as it was originally planned. Its also highly likely that the original plan is the forecast moving forward and no consideration has been taken to the new reactive fragmented working pattern.

So what happens, month by month the plan slips because the planned outputs aren't met. But then again how can planned outputs be met when the conditions are different to the plan.

The plan is being forced to work and its costing money. Is the contractor getting value for their money?


So what would the impact be if works slowed down?

Well allowing the earliest trades to get ahead would provide more work areas for the follow on trades. Larger working areas and continuity of works would allow the outputs to increase again. So by slowing down the works can speed up.

Now you might panic at the thought of what slowing down would do to the completion date but its the final trades that ultimately drive the completion date. By allowing a bit of breathing room up front costs will be significantly lowered as you are returning the scope of the contractors back to the plan. (OK so there might be an element of cost for the initial stand off for the follow on trades but this would be more than offset by a long drawn out delayed working arrangement)

The best way to see if this would work it to do a What-If programme. If you were to take the asbuilt outputs and apply them to the forecast programme you would end up with a more realistic planned completion. By running the slowed down programme through an assessment this would show a planned completion for this scenario. Now the completion for this could well be earlier but may be later, regardless the cost saving for the process would also need to be calculated and taken into consideration.

Just think of the reduction in Compensation Events, Early Warnings and Change Management that would result from the revised plan.

This might sound all good and well in theory but I use a linear project as an example because these types of projects - Motorway reconstruction, road widening, rail projects are all happening.

In order to plan linear projects the best method is Time Location or Time Chainage Programmes. These add location as an extra element when scheduling the works so clashes can be detected. They also allow tighter planning of works in relation to each other.

So although the theoretical project has been explained you can see that this is a clear demonstration of the type of scenario planning that should be considered during a job experiencing delays.


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:

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