How to avoid scheduling games

played by contractors in construction projects



By Lisa Di Cosmo

SKEMA Business School

Paris, France




Construction projects can face many scheduling games played between contractors and owners. These games will impact the project in many different ways. Longer costs and longer delays are two examples of negative effects of the games. This shows the importance of agreeing with the right terms and the right clauses during the pre-project.

Therefore, the main purpose of this paper is to identify the different games that can be played in order to provide different solutions to the owners. Then, the owners will be able to protect themselves.

As many games can be played with the schedule, a lot of attention has to be given to the clauses and specifications on the contract.

Key words: Construction management, construction project, games, schedule, delay analysis, project delivery, time, damages, owner, contractor


The construction industry is a booming and wide industry. It is one of the industries which has a high impact on the economy of countries. In fact, construction embraces several social and commercial sectors, and embraces lots of different actors from different sectors: suppliers, construction workers, engineers, designers, and many others.

Nonetheless, construction is also a complex industry. In fact, construction project management has a lot of components as planning, scheduling, project control, cost estimating, quality management, safety management, and many others.  However, in construction projects, scheduling is considered as one of the most important components in order to achieve a successful project, even if all components are interdependent and that the complete success of a project depends in reaching all criteria. Indeed, according to The Department of Cooperative a Governance and Traditional Affairs, “Project scheduling is one of the critical management tasks as it dictates the time frames in which the project will be completed”.[1] Scheduling, according to the Guild, is defined to be “Assigning an appropriate number of workers to the jobs during each day of work, determining when an activity should start or end, depending on its: duration, predecessor activity (or activities), predecessor relationships, resource availability, and target completion date of the project. »[2]

But why is scheduling so important and why exactly do we need to schedule in construction projects? There are several reasons. First of all, as the schedule helps monitoring progress, it is a management tool. The schedule is also an implementation tool because it gives deadlines and provides a framework to employees in order to get the work completed.[3] Moreover, schedule is closely linked to cost control. Indeed, the schedule makes it possible to organize the good allocation of resources in order to optimize it. For example, if you planned at the right moment that you will need to purchase some raw materials for a moment X, you will be able to order it at the right time. If you didn’t plan that you needed raw materials for this moment X, you will have to order it in a hurry and a lot of money will be involved. Scheduling definitely makes a good organization possible. This will enable good control of money and lots of cost savings. Finally, a good scheduling process allows another major thing: managing changes. In fact, project changes will be unavoidable through the whole project. A good schedule will allow Project Manager to correctly evaluate the risks of changes (cost, time..).

Schedule is created in order to improve organization in construction projects and to avoid delays. But delays will always happen, and delays will involve change, which will “often result in additional claims for the “cumulative impact”, meaning that the damages or losses incurred by the contractor due to “delay and disruption” are more than just the sum of the value of the change orders, but an additional sum to cover the hidden inefficiencies »[4]. This is why we use schedule in order to be able to forecast results. Identifying the Critical Path using the Critical Path Method (CPM) will allow each project to determine “activities that cannot be delayed without delaying the end date of the project schedule“[5]. According to Stumpf, a delay is “an act or event that extends the time required to perform tasks under a contract. It usually shows up as additional days of work or as the delayed start of an activity (…).”[6] However, delays in project delivery are a common problem and are found in the everyday life of projects.[7] Four types of delays exist. (Figure 1)



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Editor’s note: This paper was prepared for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director paul.gardiner@skema.edu.

How to cite this paper: Author last name, first initial (2019). Title, PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue IX, October.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/pmwj86-Oct2019-DiCosmo-avoid-scheduling-games-played-by-contractors.pdf



About the Author

Lisa Di Cosmo

Paris, France



Lisa Di Cosmo is a Project Management professional and wants to become an International Business Developer.

Born in Paris, Lisa comes from a multicultural family. With an Italian father and an Argentinian mother, she had the opportunity to travel a lot to several continents and to become trilingual. In fact, she is fluent in Spanish and Italian.

Since 2016, she studies at SKEMA Business School, the 7th best-ranked French Business School. She had the chance to fly to Suzhou, where she stayed one semester to study on the SKEMA’s Chinese Campus. She learned International Finance, Corporate Governance and International Negotiation. Loving languages, she made solid foundations in Chinese. In September 2018, she specialized in the Master of Science “Project and Programme Management & Business Development”. She was able to exercise her skills of Project Manager during the different courses of Global Project Management and Sustainable Project Management. Moreover, she successfully passed two international certifications which are Prince 2 Foundation and Agile PM. Willing to develop more Project Management skills, she will pass the Prince 2 Practitioner certification next year.

In January, she will start a Business Developer internship in the company Wonderbox, a French company. After this internship, she wants to discover Project management in a professional way, this is to say in an internship. Loving challenges, she aims to become a great Project Manager.

Lisa lives in Paris, France, and can be contacted at lisa.dicosmo@skema.edu.

To find more information about Lisa Di Cosmo, visit her Linkedin profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-di-cosmo


[1] Planning and Scheduling. Cooperative Governance Traditional Affairs. Retrieved from http://www.cogta.gov.za/mig/toolkit/TOOLBOX/PM/Planning%20and%20Scheduling.pdf

[2] GUILD OF PROJECT CONTROLS COMPENDIUM and REFERENCE (CaR) | Project Controls – planning, scheduling, cost management and forensic analysis (Planning Planet). (s.d.). Retrieved from http://www.planningplanet.com/guild/gpccar/introduction-to-managing-planning-and-scheduling

[3] The Purpose of the Project Schedule | Project Controls – planning, scheduling, cost management and forensic analysis (Planning Planet). (2009). Retrieved from http://www.planningplanet.com/wiki/422495/purpose-project-schedule

[4] (“GUILD OF PROJECT CONTROLS COMPENDIUM and REFERENCE (CaR) | Project Controls – planning, scheduling, cost management and forensic analysis (Planning Planet)”, s.d.)

[5] GUILD OF PROJECT CONTROLS COMPENDIUM and REFERENCE (CaR) | Project Controls – planning, scheduling, cost management and forensic analysis (Planning Planet). (s.d.). Retrieved from http://www.planningplanet.com/guild/gpccar/introduction-to-managing-planning-and-scheduling

[6] Stumpf, G. R. (2000). Schedule delay analysis. Cost Engineering, 42(7), 32-43. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/220446193?accountid=42874

[7] Assaf, S. A., & Al-Hejji, S. (2006). Causes of delay in large construction projects. International Journal of Project Management24(4), 349-357. doi:10.1016/j.ijproman.2005.11.010