Methods of Forensic Schedule Delay Analysis
Construction projects have their own typical obstacles resulting in disagreements. No matter what you are building or producing, time is a significant component of any process. If it is not used efficiently, delays will occur and overruns become unavoidable. These delays may cause impacts on the project budget and both the contractor, subcontractors, and the client may suffer heavy losses. In that case, forensic schedule delay analysis methods are used to determine the root causes of delays in order to resolve the disputes between the parties involved in construction projects.
Delay situations are getting more complicated based on the nature and the complexity of the construction projects. In a construction project, activities of various parties may cause delays concurrently. This makes, delay analysis and claim management complementary processes that employ effective tools and techniques, and knowledge to resolve disputes.
Why Do We Make Forensic Schedule Delay Analysis in Construction Projects?
According to AACE (International Recommended Practice No. 29R-03), the delay must affect the critical path in order to be subject to an extension of time. On this basis, most of the construction contracts state that if the critical path is not affected because of a delay, there will be no adjustment to the project completion. In other words, if the floats mitigate the effects of the delay, the completion of the project will remain the same and the contractor will not have a right to claim a time extension.
Forensic schedule delay analysis methods are performed to understand if there is a delay on the critical path.
What are the Forensic Schedule Delay Analysis Methods?
If you are working as a project manager or a planning engineer, most probably you have created claim files to demand additional time and/or money from the client. While preparing a claim file, you must attach supporting documents such as daily reports, site photos, delay analysis, and critical path analysis. In order to determine the causes of delays in a construction project, you must employ forensic schedule delay analysis methods.
Simply put, delay analysis is a process of answering the below questions;
- How late is the project?
- What has caused the project to delay?
- Who is responsible for the delay?
- What is the cost impact of the delay?
- Is this a concurrent delay?
Current project duration, floats of activities, and delays can be calculated with the help of the Critical Path Method. Forensic schedule delay analysis is the investigation of project activities and milestones by using the CPM to model the real project situation while resolving delay claims through negotiations or legal processes.
There are several methods available for conducting construction schedule delay analysis. Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering AACE recommended nine “method implementation protocols” for delay analysis. Other related associations and professionals recommend several methods for the same purpose.
Although, there are many Forensic Schedule Delay Analysis Methods, in this article, we will focus on the most common ones.
- As-Planned vs As-Built Analysis
- Windows Analysis
- Time Impact Analysis
- Collapsed As-Built
- Impacted As Planned
Analyzing the Forensic Schedule Delay Analysis Methods
Now we will analyze each method.
As-Planned vs As-Built Analysis
As-Planned vs As-Built Analysis is a common method to make a comparison between the planned and the actual performance of the work. In this method, the dates and durations of the activities are selected from the baseline schedule and compared with the actual schedule. The main benefit of this method is that it is easy to perform and understand. Many experts use this method because of its simplicity.
Below are some limitations of As-Planned vs As-Built Analysis
- Concurrent delays can not be measured
- The logic and the sequence changes as the work performed but this method ignores this fact.
- It is not easy to implement this method in complex projects.
In the Windows Analysis, the overall schedule is divided into windows with a selected duration. Then the activities within the selected window are updated by the expert considering the delays. The causes for each delay are determined by analyzing the windows. Windows Analysis method provides precise information regarding the delays when there are regularly updated CPM work schedules. It is difficult to manipulate.
Below are some limitations of Windows Analysis
- The work schedule may not be updated regularly with correct dates.
- The baseline schedule may not be prepared accurately
- Activities outside the selected window may have impacts on the activities inside the window.
Time Impact Analysis
Time Impact Analysis is a delay analysis method that considers the cause and effect of a change to a critical path method (CPM) schedule. An event that causes a delay is identified and its relationships with the activities are determined by using this method. Time Impact Analysis is a useful technique for analyzing complex schedules and determining concurrent delays. This technique is accepted by many courts and agencies. However, it has some limitations.
Below are the limitations of Time Impact Analysis
- Can be expensive and time-consuming
- Can be susceptible to manipulation
In this method, the expert uses the actual as-built schedule and takes out the duration of all the delays attributable to the contractor. The as-built critical path is determined by analyzing the activities of this revised schedule. Collapsed As-Built analysis is a useful technique for determining concurrent delays.
Below are the limitations of Collapsed As-Built
- Preparing a revised schedule is time-consuming and expensive.
- Manipulations can be made while making the revised schedule.
- The expert must make substantial decisions.
Impacted As Planned
In the impacted as planned method, you insert the delay events into the baseline schedule in order to specify the hypothetical impact of them on the project schedule. While implementing the impacted as planned, you need to modify the baseline by adding new activities and relationships to demonstrate delay events. You calculate the delay by determining the difference between the completion date of the impacted as-planned schedule and the original baseline schedule. The impacted as planned method is widely used because of its simplicity. However, this method ignores the fact that the critical path of the project changes as the project progresses.
Like other resources such as labor and equipment, time can be considered a resource that is spent on building a construction project. Forensic Schedule Delay Analysis Methods are closely related to the right CPM calculations. In order to make substantial CPM calculations, the baseline schedule should be prepared properly. As mentioned in the article there is no standard method for making Forensic Schedule Delay Analysis. Each method has pros and cons. Deciding which method of making delay analysis is based on the type and the characteristics of the delay.
In this article, we discuss the most common methods of forensic schedule delay analysis. If you want to share your experiences regarding the use of these methods, please share by using the comments box given below.
Victor Z Young is a Civil Engineer with 35 years of experience working alongside the executive team of various construction companies. Victor specializes in construction insurance, delay analysis, performance analysis and engineering. He holds a Doctor of Project Management from Northwestern University.