Why produce a programme?
Regardless of your contract type a programme will be a requirement. Some forms of contract base more onus on the programme than others with NEC being probably the most programme centred contract types.
If the contract didn't require a programme would you change anything about your planning practices?
If so then maybe your missing the value that they can bring.
Regular programme updates will highlight what change and progress are doing to the critical path and allow focus on key activities. A properly resourced programme will assist with resource levelling, even investment in plant and equipment based on forecast workload.
There are many things that a programme can give you. Planning software is very much more powerful than most use it for.
How many projects have planners and quantity surveyors working on separate documents to update their information? One on time, the other on money. The planner will produce the programme each month, the quantity surveyor then needs to produce a revised forecast based on this revised programme. If a fully resourced and cost loaded programme is available then this would be carried out as part of the programme update. Including any change to the cashflow or forecast which could be compared back to the previous baseline. Below is a theoretical example I produced for a client to show how this could look.
The above example shows cashflow above and value below. If change affected this programme than this cashflow would automatically be updated.
If you go into a bit more detail and have a detailed delivery programme then you could include the full Labour, Plant and Material breakdown. This would allow a procurement schedule to be updated along with the programme update. If you look at it from a tendering perspective you could price the project while producing the programme, this way you would be sure your price and programme are aligned.
All of the information mentioned so far should be available by the site team so adding it to the programme is additional upfront work which is countered by the effortless update process.
Can you also imagine not having a programme for the duration of a project. Do you think this would be as well run and efficient as the same project with a regularly updated and monitored programme? I don't think so...
The purpose of a programme is to focus attention on important activities that drive the outcome of the project. To allow people to look ahead and have everything in place. For the plan to be achievable there needs to be something that can be checked and a plan in someone's head. For instance if a programme has an impossible work intensity then it is not achievable.
Programmes are an essential part of any project and required by all parties. As a subcontractor your programme may well have a different critical path to that of the Tier 1 contractors programme but your often dictated to work to their critical path as a priority for the good of the project. How many subcontractors lose out on their full entitlement to time and cost as a result of being unable to demonstrate this in a robust plan?
A programme may be a contractual obligation but this really shouldn't be the only reason they are produced. There is so much potential to be gained from properly utilising the available planning software to cut out inefficiencies, reduce cost and maximise value.
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