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means and methods - where do you draw the line?

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John Reeves
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If you are reviewing a schedule - where is the lilne as to not crossing into means and methods.  Even durations, if something is likely too short how do approach that without getting into Means and methods and the legal line you are crossing into.

Means and Methods of Construction — a term used in construction to describe the techniques and tactics a contractor employs to complete construction.


Rafael Davila
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How can the Contractor claim certain production rate is real without disclosing the resource assignments and production data?  In this regard I agree with Zoltan.

I would require the schedule to disclose the crew composition that is resource quantities and workloads, the crew production rate, the production quantity and units in a very visible way for all production activities.


Please note that resource hours/effort and resource quantity are not the same, it is a misconception that dividing effort by a common denominator will give you the quantities. Multiple calendars and the sharing of part-time resources make it difficult if not impossible to figure it out.

Under most contracts it is the Contractor who has entitlement to the Means and Methods; it is real not a perception, the Contract is king. This does not relieve the Contractor of his responsibility to deliver. The Client has his right to be informed, he has the right to question the submitted schedule and keep it on record, perhaps with a disclaimer note. With regard to questioning the schedule I agree with Mutang.

If Owner wants to keep control of the Means and Methods he can do so under the right contract type, for some projects it makes perfect sense.

Ideally the Contractor would realize there might be the need for some schedule adjustments but stubborn contractors do happen. If submitted schedule is unreasonable and Contractor does not make it right then time will show the reviewer was right and any claim from either party would require the schedule be revised, a SOP. In such case I would recommend the Owner to keep a Ghost Schedule of his own.

Ghost Schedule

Zoltan Palffy
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I think the last statement is the proof in the pudding. Create a plan with the original planned reources and then track the progress using commodity curves to see if the planned quantities are being met. If they are not being met then additional resources wil be needed or the rate of installation must change.

Bian Mutang Tagal
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Hi John,

That is a good question. I have seen this in practice in the begining of the project where everyone tends to be giving the benefit of the doubt to avoid assuming the contractor's work ability - probably lest they be proved wrong e.g. "I don't care if you have ONE excavator, if you can excavate 10,000m3 of earth per week that's all we care about" which although isn't logical does sort of put the message across. But then what happens is that halfway through the project we start realising that the contractor is in fact unable to reach their target productivity. And suddenly the contractor's constant shouting that "the project owner cannot control our sequence of works and durations, as long as we complete within the contractual completion date it's all good" becomes a little ridiculous.

So for me, at least in this part of the world, I wouldn't give that benefit of the doubt to the contractor and will challenge their unreasonable durations UNTIL they start using their perceived entitlement of Means and Methods of Construction to pushback against my queries. At that point, I will probably stop challenging the durations and change the strategy to "alright, but we will review your weekly/monthly productivity to see if it aligns with your plan duration and take actions as necessary" 

Zoltan Palffy
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you can challenge a duration especailly if there are no resources on the activity.

I can have a activity take 10 days with say 2 men or I can make the activity 5 days using 4 men. So resources are important