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Subcontractor Schedule Control Methods By Carrie S. Sturts, Ph.D., P.E. And John C. Wolf, Mba

Saturday, April 03, 2004 12:34 pm

Subcontractor Schedule Control Methods By Carrie S. Sturts, Ph.D., P.E. And John C. Wolf, Mba

Trade coordination is a challenge on any construction project. The problem is particularly acute for large-scale structural, mechanical, electrical, security and other specialty subcontractors. Contemporary construction projects have become more complex. They are being constructed on a faster track and experienced project management professionals remain in short supply.

Many project owners and prime contractors do not fully understand the scope of trade work or the logical dependencies that exist among the trades. Miscommunication and disputes are often the result. In order to protect themselves, subcontractors need to implement their own schedule control method.

A trade-specific schedule will enable a subcontractor to raise concerns prior to construction, deal with scheduling and coordination issues during construction, negotiate change orders when necessary, and protect the subcontractor's interests if disputes do arise. A trade-specific critical path method scheduling tool, within a broader project management system, will provide a subcontractor with both a sword and a shield.


Subcontractors should prepare a trade-specific CPM schedule and update the schedule on a regular basis. The schedule should include the subcontractor's scope of work, as well as work by others that is critical to the subcontractor's work. The subcontractor should submit the schedule to the prime contractor and other appropriate project participants. Ideally, the schedule should be accompanied by a narrative addressing concerns regarding potential impacts on the subcontractor's performance and progress schedule.

There are three phases in developing and updating a subcontractor's tradespecific schedule. First, a baseline or initial schedule is prepared. Then information from the project master schedule and information from other appropriate participants is added to the subcontractor's sc [...]

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