Class 110: Baseline Schedules

October 28, 2021 0 Comments


A baseline schedule is a fixed project schedule that is the standard by which project performance is measured.1 It captures how the project team plans to execute a project in alignment with contractual requirements. Baseline schedules forecast a project’s duration prior to incorporating any real time issues like late material deliveries, inclement weather, slow/poor workmanship, etc. The real-time issues are captured in updated schedules which can be compared to the baseline schedule to reveal variances. However, most baseline schedules reflect contractual contingency time in activity durations to account for common project delays.

Example of a Baseline Schedule:

The example above shows a typical construction schedule for a high-end mixed-use skyscraper. The baseline schedule captures the planning and sequencing that must take place before construction begins. Construction projects are complex, so creating a baseline schedule to outline the original plan for the project is an important step. As the project progresses and changes are made to the schedule, the schedule is updated and can be compared to the baseline schedule. Baseline schedules are often represented in the gantt chart as a thin yellow line underneath the updated schedule’s activities or a yellow diamond underneath a milestone, as in the example above. A baseline schedule compared to an updated schedule provides a quick view of variances to activity start and finish dates.

Why are Baseline Schedules Important?

Baseline schedules typically incorporate the established contractual schedule requirements.  This allows the project team to develop an efficient sequence of work for all subcontractors to follow.

Baseline schedules can be included in forensic reviews of a project when trying to determine the impact project events have on completion milestones. Often a baseline schedule comparison in a forensic delay analysis can identify events that trigger delay or work that has been re-sequenced.

When using certain software, a baseline schedule compared to an updated schedule helps analysts identify activities that were added to the schedule after the latest baseline was created, which can indicate a possible change order or delay event.

Baseline Schedule Summary:

1.    Critical contractual dates are typically incorporated in the baseline schedule.

2.    Baseline schedules can help identify schedule delays as the project progresses and schedule updates are performed.

Key Terms:

Update Schedule a dynamic version of the baseline schedule that reflects the most current information on the project

 Gantt Chart a type of bar chart that provides a graphical representation of a schedule that includes the activities that make up a project  





BIM Execution Plans: The Importance of an Owner's Clarity of Communication

October 25, 2021 0 Comments

Have you ever dealt with issues stemming from miscommunication? Whether personal or professional, clear communication is essential to remove ambiguity and potential conflict from any situation. Developing a BIM Execution Plan (BEP) is one area where clear, succinct communication is vital. While there are many facets of communication that are essential in BEP development, we will be highlighting some of the most frequently encountered issues and applied solutions:

1. Influence vs. Manipulation

2. Conflict Resolution

3. Written Communication

By understanding how these tools are used in BEP development, BIM Execution Plans become more effective and useful, making sure your projects “start off on the right foot.” The ultimate goal is to foster productive and collaborative relationships to assist in your BEP development and implementation. 

Why Owner Influence can be Better than Owner Leverage

The words influence and manipulate deal with producing an effect without an apparent effort or action. The key difference between the two is consent. When you influence a person, you use positive leadership to gain a positive outcome. When a person is influenced, they have the choice to accept or reject that influence. On the other hand, manipulation, attempts to “introduce stress, anxiety or discomfort to achieve a desired goal”[1]. When you manipulate someone (for example, pressuring a partner to accept a clash resolution hierarchy or as-built tolerances that are not beneficial to their firm), you risk losing any trust you have built with that individual and introduce negative association, hindering collaboration.

When developing BEPs, influence is much more useful than manipulation. There are multiple parties involved in BEP development, and an atmosphere of transparency and collaboration is essential. Communicating clearly with influence-based methods will develop trust among team members and lead to more efficient BEP development (less time arguing, more time doing).

However, no matter how hard we try, sometimes parties with differing goals may not agree on the best path forward. When this happens, conflict resolution may be utilized to generate a positive outcome.

How to Resolve Conflicts Related to Differing Party Goals

Conflict Resolution is the informal or formal process that two or more parties use to find a peaceful solution to their dispute. You have several options when you cannot influence another party to accept or comply with your BEP requirements. For example, companies often employ manipulation techniques to force the other party to comply through leverage or contractual authority, which may work but risks damaging your business relationship. Depending on the circumstances of the dispute, a better path forward may be conflict resolution.

By choosing to utilize conflict resolution rather than enforcing compliance through leverage, you can fully communicate needs, goals, and grievances. This method allows the other party the opportunity to do the same. The process provides a direct communication platform offering transparency with the other party to resolve the conflict. If you have created a relationship fostered by trust and influence, chances are the other party will want to work with you to reach a cooperative agreement.

The Importance of the Written Document

Written communication is an efficient way to convey detailed information to large groups of people (for example, all parties involved in the BEP development process). After all, the BIM Execution Plan itself is a form of written communication that exists as a pre-determined and agreed-upon set of guidelines. Written communication serves to document decisions and agreements in perpetuity, mitigating room for interpretation and loss of accuracy in recording information over time. The language within a BEP must therefore be clear, concise, and understandable to be effective. Verbal agreements on BEP content should be documented in real-time during BEP review, in writing, so that issues are not revisited repeatedly, delaying BEP approval and running a costly tab for design and construction professionals to re-plow old ground.

Hopefully, the solutions discussed above will provide food for thought as to how your firm approaches BEP development and implementation, creating positive outcomes for all Owner, designer, and contractor team members.

[1] Social Engineer News Vol. 4 Issue 45:


Avoiding BIM Adoption Fatigue

October 15, 2021 0 Comments

New discoveries in the field of neuroscience are helping us understand how the brain makes decisions. In a study that reveals fascinating insights, Professor Lars Muckli, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Glasgow, studies how the brain processes vision. He has found evidence that the human brain is more of a prediction machine than a computer. We make decisions based on those predictions. Our brain stores the experience and uses it to build a better predictive model as we make those decisions. Professor Muckli says, “The main purpose of the brain, as we understand it today…is basically a prediction machine that is optimizing its own predictions of the environment it is navigating through.”

We rely on our personal experiences more than data to make decisions. When we encounter something new, we try to predict what will happen based on similar past experiences. People who have experienced more success, or predicted correctly, can be more likely to take chances in the future. Our ability to take chances and explore unknown possibilities is directly correlated to the results of our past experiences. Our ability to take a risk is based on our perspective of that risk. Applying this same logic to BIM implementation, the decision to adopt BIM does not seem as risky to an Owner with BIM experience as one without. However, BIM adoption is a long-term endeavor, and the perception of risk will change over time. If a project Owner does not experience the immediate gratification of adoption project successes, they may become reluctant to invest more time and money in the BIM adoption process. This reluctance is called BIM Adoption Fatigue.

Owner Visibility and Communication Key to Avoiding BIM Adoption Fatigue

To resist BIM fatigue, Owners require a simple system of timely, accurate reporting of model status to provide visibility into the details (and successes) of your BIM projects. Written executive reports or data-rich interactive graphical dashboards can both be utilized for this purpose, so long as both are regularly updated to accurately reflect model status that facilitates real-time decision making (design changes, clash resolution, asset data deliverables, etc.). However, effective executive dashboards provide more insight on BIM progress, illustrating BIM risks and the status of addressing/resolving each risk item (i.e., relative success rate), helping keep Owners engaged in the BIM development process, and staving off BIM fatigue.

BIM fatigue can derail the best laid BIM adoption plans. Still, accurate, real-time model status reporting delivers immediate ROI and highlights project team successes keeping everyone engaged in the business of meeting planned BIM goals and reducing project risk.