CPM Mechanics: Must Reading for Construction Claims Consultants

At the heart of virtually all delay claims is the Critical Path Method. Arguments turn on whether a particular “issue” had a direct bearing on the Project Schedule’s “critical path.” Sword fights between opposing scheduling experts 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

Bring in the Consultants

When a Construction Attorney encounters delay, acceleration, and other time-related construction delay claims brought by Owners or Contractors on projects that overrun contractual project deadlines, the normal course of action is to bring in a Construction Claims Consultant 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 reports, and testify in court.

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 you and I both know, as practicing scheduling experts, 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, and are at the center of all windows delay analysis computations. There is no substitute for pure knowledge. And now your client-attorneys have the opportunity to learn everything they 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.

Why You Should Read this Book

You may be agreeing with us that your attorney-clients could well benefit from reading this book. But why would you benefit, too? After all, you are already a scheduling “expert,” right?

The Is Still More to Learn

The answer is that there is quite a lot about the Critical Path Method that even seasoned veterans may not fully understand or appreciate. See how you react to the following statements:

  • Total Float belongs to the Activity Path, not to any given Activity.
  • It is possible for Latest Dates to be earlier than Earliest Dates.
  • Free Float belongs to the Activity Path, and not to the last activity in a path (as typically defined).
  • Neither the Least Total Float Path or Longest Path  definitions of a Critical Path holds up when a schedule has multiple Start Date Constraints and/or multiple Finish Date Constraints.
  • Absence of a Work Breakdown Structure does not invalidate a schedule.
  • All activities in a schedule are “related” to one another, even if they have no logic ties connecting them to one another.
  • The true effect of Cumulative Impacts on contractor loss of productivity and efficiency CAN be quantitatively demonstrated.
  • Likewise, the effect of trade stacking or other causes of contractor inefficiency can be shown quantitatively.

We could go on, but the above bullets are sufficient to make our point. There is still much confusion and misunderstanding about how the Critical Path Method really works “under the hood.” CPM Mechanics is a nearly 500-page book, with over 225 illustrations, and another 125 pages of included ICS-White Papers … all intended to make CPM more understandable than ever before.

A Key Question: What Don’t You Know?

Just as important as (indeed, perhaps more important than) 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 Claims Consultant needs to know about … before entering the courtroom or even giving a deposition.

Don’t get caught in a trap. Learn the subtleties of the Critical Path Method from someone who has lived and breathed it for 35 years. If you do not learn something new from this book, you will get your money back! We are that confident that it will shed new light on a fascinating and somewhat complex topic. To whet your whistle, read a three-part blog entitled, Critical Path Myth.

And if we are right — that you may not know everything there is to know about Critical Path Method mechanics — then doesn’t it stand to reason that such voids in understanding might make their way into your cumulative impact analysis, constructive acceleration calculations, time impact analysis, or forensic schedule analysis?

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