What is the Schedule Telling You?

By Rob Sepanek, Director of Scheduling Operations Adolfson & Peterson Construction

Time management is key to a project running smoothly and on time for completion. To successfully accomplish those goals, we must apply sound practices in the development of a project schedule.

The Defense Contract Management Agency’s (DCMA) 14-Point Schedule Assessment is how we measure schedule quality, more recently known as a schedule health check. Based on 14 metrics, the measurable criteria can be analyzed regularly while planning, monitoring and controlling the schedule.

This schedule health check even has a scoring system to determine how healthy a schedule is. While I don’t always understand or agree with how these scores are calculated, the system is intended to indicate a project schedule’s potential problems and, in the end, ensure the project is managed toward success.

Once we have a schedule with a complete scope that complies with the contract documents and has an excellent schedule health score, what do we do with it?  Understanding what the schedule is saying as you progress through the project is a large part of project management. The schedule can answer these questions and others: What is the critical path? Has it changed? What about the near-critical path(s)? Is a subcontractor having trouble meeting their deadlines? Are work sequences achievable?

Comparison reviews can highlight delays to an activity, the critical path or any other string of activities going on at the time. Variances can be addressed quickly, solutions discussed and implemented before problems become terminal.

To evaluate the overall project, Key Project Indicators (KPIs) can be established to review areas where the project might be in trouble. The DCMA – Baseline Execution Index (BEI) calculations (below) can determine if a project’s planned activities are sliding to the right and thus, creating more activities to complete than can be done in the remaining project time. Breaking this calculation down by month can also help identify months with high planned completion rates.

BEIcum = (Total # of Tasks Complete) / (Total # of Tasks that Should be Complete) – Planned

It may sound complicated, but if you break it down into bite-sized chunks, it makes perfect sense. Schedule performance can be measured by reflecting the actual activities completed versus baseline as well as actual activities completed versus planned. Schedule performance by subcontractors can be measured, as well.

Logic changes, changes to relationships between activities due to out-of-sequence work, and schedule growth are also areas that can be measured to give you a better understanding of your project’s health.

Whatever metrics you use, it’s important to understand what the schedule is telling you and how you can use the information to identify problems early and mitigate the damage before it becomes impossible to overcome.


Rob brings professional experience in construction management and coordination and further streamlines AP’s extensive scheduling process. As director of scheduling operations, he is responsible for leading project scheduling across multiple regions for AP’s Arizona, Minnesota and Texas offices. He engages in extensive collaboration with project teams to establish scheduling standards, work products, project timelines, performance indicators, risk management, and recovery strategies resulting in accurate and achievable scheduling expectations across all projects for each region.

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