CPM Mechanics: Must Reading for Construction Lawyers

Very few Construction Lawyers avoid dealing with construction delay claims, acceleration claims, and loss of productivity claims (such as due to trade stacking) brought by Construction Owners or Contractors on projects that overrun their contractual deadlines.

Bring in the Consultants

The normal course of action is to bring in construction dispute resolution expert who can assess the merits of the opposing assertions, develop affirmative arguments in rebuttal, assist in forming defense strategies and tactics, provide expert opinions and, if necessary, testify in court.

At the heart of virtually every construction claims analysis is the Critical Path Method. Arguments turn on whether a particular “issue” had a direct bearing on the project schedule’s “critical path.” And you can bet a month of dinners that one, or both, of the scheduling experts will perform windows delay analysis to “make their case.”

On the stand, dueling construction claims consultants quibble over the nuances of the Critical Path Method, thrashing about a slew of technical terms and concepts that seem only understandable by other equally-educated consultants.

Ignorance is Not Bliss

As one who has served as a claims consultant over several decades, I cannot count the number of times I have had the good (but frustrating) fortune of working an attorney-client who hadn’t the foggiest clue what Critical Path was all about. Honestly, I found it quite irritating — not just that he or she did not know the basics of CPM, but that he or she didn’t seem to want to know.

What I, and my colleagues, can unequivocally tell you is that an attorney does his client a grave disservice by not learning all there is to know about the Critical Path Method, since the Critical Path is the de facto barometer against which time-related disputes are ultimately decided.

At one extreme are arguments of construction delays and constructive interference. At the other end of the spectrum are instances of pursued time extensions and assertions by the contractor of accelerated construction. And let’s forget cumulative impact claims, which also require an understanding of the Critical Path Method. Before calculating liquidated damages, you need to perform a delay analysis that quantifies the extent of the impacts to one or more project deadlines.

There is no substitute for pure knowledge. And now you have the opportunity to learn everything you need to know about the Critical Path Method in one book that is written in friendly  conversational style, and that adopts the “crawl-walk-run” approach to teaching.

What You Will Learn

After reading CPM Mechanics, you will know all about:

  • The difference between Listings, Timetable, Bar Charts, and Networks
  • The difference between Static and Dynamic Schedules
  • All about Activities, Activity Durations, Activity Codes, Activity Descriptions, ad Activity Logs
  • All about the Four Basic Calculated Dates: Earliest Start, Earliest Finish, Latest Start and Latest Finish
  • All about the Three Primary Relationship Categories in All Schedules: Communal, Symbiotic, and Progressive

[Note: ALL other books on scheduling discuss only the third relationship type; they omit the first two — both of which can have significant relevance to time-related delay and acceleration claims.]

  • All about the primary activity restriction types: Start Restriction, Finish Restriction, and Default Restriction.
  • All about Total Float and Free Float.
  • All about Date Constraints and Work Performance Calendars.
  • Why the prevailing definitions of all of the above terms are overwhelmingly inaccurate and can be unraveled on the witness stand by an experienced claims expert witness.
  • All about the Schedule Data Credibility Profile, which describes the variable credibility of schedule data across the projct life cycle [another discussion not found in any other scheduling texts].
  • And much, much more

The Critical Path Method is Most Imperfect

Just as important as learning how the Critical Path Method works “under the hood” is discovering its many Achilles” Heels. The Critical Path Method has a number of weaknesses … that any Construction Lawyer would want to know about … before entering the courtroom or even taking a deposition. We think this is the true essence of construction claims management: to anticipate the opposing arguments and be ready for them. To wet your whistle, consider reading the three-part blog entitled, “Critical Path Myth.”

CPM Mechanics is required reading … if you really want to use the Critical Path Method to win your case!