I have been away from my blog for too long. I don’t know if it is writer’s block or just being too busy. August was a couple of claims and trying to find time to catch a fish. September featured a presentation to the GAO on why they should consider my RDCPM protocol as part of a new metric to review CPM schedule submittals. (See Scheduling Software: 'Minor' Feature May Play Major Role, and http://www.rdcpm.com/GAO/GAO.html). Two days later I had the pleasure of moderating a panel at ENR’s Risk & Compliance Summit (http://construction.com/events/2013/risk/). This is the best job – I ask questions and let the panelists do the hard work. Next back to DC for the ABA Forum on Construction Fall Meeting, and thence directly off to Houston and the Acumen User Conference, the first since their acquisition by Deltek, to explain the value of the Acumen suite for preparing or resolving a claim of delay.

This past week I again had the pleasure of assisting ENR with a webinar involving a panel of my friends discussing the half-step (or as I prefer the two-step) schedule update and measured mile analyses. At first we struggled with how these two topics related, leading to the title of this post, Oranges, Apples and Pairs, In each instance trustworthy experts must struggle with keeping similar sets of data separate. In the “half-step update” one must separate what has occurred in the past – the true and proper update designed to tell management of the contractor and owner how we did this past period of time – from plans for the future to improve upon what happened previously.

All too often a scheduler – perhaps young and afraid to offend – will bow to pressure to cover poor past performance such as getting only three days work done in the past week, by then claiming the crews will work faster and will get seven days work done in the next five. This is possible, but should be provided in two steps – we got three days production in the past five – we will get seven days production in the next five – and perhaps provide how, such as a larger crew, some judicious overtime, or more equipment.

The use of the measured mile methodology similarly requires honesty and professionalism. Here we have two sets of data that must be kept separate. First the contractor must account for a proper period of inefficiency due to some cause being the responsibility of the owner. As Dwight Zink noted in his seminal paper on the topic in the AACE Journal of April 1986,

The "measured mile" approach to isolating the disruption costs of acceleration is generally accepted by the courts as being a reasonable way of determining the damages incurred over and above those which should have been expected. However, the size of the sample must also be reasonable - i.e., extrapolating two percent of progress into 80 percent of expected costs would hardly be reasonable.

Next, the scopes (both physical and environmental) must be the same. One should not compare ripping through virgin soil to lay 30” pipe in an extended run with squirreling sections of 42” pipe with 12” connections to inlets in an existing urban zone with live underground electrical conduit and “hand dig only” printed on the blueprints. As stated by panelist Rocco Vespe (Hill International), one must always compare labor hours and not dollars (as dollars per hour may change from one period to another).

The half-step update, and the difficulty of re-creating after the before and after the data-date information is mixed, was discussed in three sessions at the last AACE annual meeting. Issues around the measured mile were covered by four sessions. The clarity provided in less than one hour by our three panelists, Rocco, John Livengood (Arcadis) and Kelly Heuer (Navigant) is to be commended. Replays of their presentation are available at http://video.webcasts.com/events/pmny001/viewer/index.jsp?eventid=47236.

Rocco has been a keynote speaker at our 2012 Construction CPM Conference, and John will help kick off our Litigation Track at our 2014 event, Swan & Dolphin Resort, Walt Disney World, Florida, from January 21-24. More information about the conference is available at http://www.constructioncpm.com/. With more attendees registered this far in advance than ever before, we hope it will be educational, entertaining and a venue to network and exchange contact information than ever before. We have sessions on "how to navigate" more than a dozen software solutions, special tracks for Cost, EVM, Risk, BIM, Document Control, and Litigation, a new Mock Trial at a new time, special luncheon presentations, and even a session on "Selling Scheduling Services in a Down Economy." We hope to see you there.