Have traditional project scheduling and delay techniques become a lost art over the last decade?  Darrell Whitt, Director for Asia Pacific Delivery at MWH, thinks it has and that clients are better served if their consultants continue to include a focus on pro-active time-management methods. Darrell explains why project schedule variance and ownership of delays still have a role to play in all forms of contract administration and procurement below:

In the 1990’s and early 2000’s the use of delay analysis was a critical component of accurate and robust time management. It ensured that any delay was correctly allocated, extensions of time were granted in accordance with contract conditions, and liquidated damages were correctly applied. Proactive time management techniques like ‘modified time-slice analysis’ were routinely used to help manage cost and change control, to ensure disputes were minimised and that time-related aspects of contracts were administered equitably.

While there are other similar approaches, I favour time-slice methodology as it is relatively simple to apply and is scaleable. It is basically a forward and backward pass on the schedule which allows it to adapt to the actual or as-built situation at regular intervals: a powerful approach when time disputes arise. This methodology ensures that the as-build schedule is progressively constructed, and agreed, together with supporting records throughout the project life-cycle.

Controlling Change

Controlling the effect of change on the program is achieved by including the change in the model, calculating the program reschedule and determining the effect of the change on the critical path.  ‘What if’ scenarios can also be modelled to assess the impact of various options so an appropriate decision on the best way forward can be made. These techniques improve both time-management and true allocation of delay to unforseen events as they arise.

Maintaining the Course

In the last decade accurate and robust time management techniques have become less prevalent in the armoury of clients and consultants across Australia and New Zealand. This could be due to the rise and popularity of collaborative contract forms or simply because it has become a lost-art in contract administration and construction management.

Either way, pro-active time-management still has its place in today’s collaborative world and indeed, in all forms of contract and procurement types. Clients will be better served by improved timely delivery from both consultants and contractors. Improved project planning and an inherent understanding of the critical path throughout the project lifecycle will assist all stakeholders in focussing effort where it’s needed and provide improvements in the timeliness of delivery.


Darrell Whitt is the Director for Asia Pacific Delivery Centre at MWH Global, now part of Stantec. His delivery centre brings together MWH designers from across the Asia Pacific region to leverage their specialist skills for infrastructure projects. This model provides superior design capacity and delivers time and cost savings to MWH clients. The Asia Pacific DELIVERY includes MWH Global designers from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, China, India and Taiwan.