Construction Scheduling Management
Construction Scheduling Management

Construction Scheduling Management: 50 Terms Every Planner Should Know


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Successfully managing construction projects begins even before the ground breaks- it executed is executed early in the planning phase. Scheduling jargons used in this phase of the project tend to be overwhelming for professionals in the field. However, misunderstanding even the most general planning terms can be critical during construction operations.

Whether you are a junior planner, an experienced subcontractor, or a senior construction manager, knowing this common term mentioned from the pre-construction to handover meetings can prove beneficial for you and the rest of your team.

Read the most frequently used words in scheduling management for construction below and know how to improve your project.

Construction Scheduling Management Terms and Jargons


Activity: A task to be in a specific period of time as part of working towards the goal of the construction project. An Activity can be designated to resources and include an associated cost. In task management, Activities are usually ordered logically.

Actual Cost: The real amount incurred or paid for materials or labor.

Activity Relationship: A logical, ordered link between two activities depicting the execution order.

The 4 Activity Relationship types are the following:

  • SS – Start to Start
  • FF – Finish to Finish
  • SF – Start to Finish
  • FS – Finish to Start

Approved Change Requests: Refers to the documents on approved changes implemented on the project contract as a whole involving schedule, cost, and plan. The stakeholders first review these files before proceeding with the approval.

Arrow Diagramming Method (ADM): The activity-on-arrow (AOA) method is a network diagramming technique practiced in Construction Project Management in which arrows portray activities. 

Backward Pass or Plan: This is a critical path process of calculating late start dates and late finish dates for the uncompleted activities in the project schedule. Based on the project’s end date, these activities are then examined backward through the schedule network logic.

Base Line: A set of costs and dates frozen at the project start and used as a performance evaluation metric as the project moves forward.

Budgeted Cost: The total amount agreed on and placed aside to perform an activity or the entire project from start to finish.

Change Estimate: A special estimate evaluating a potential change that may arise in a project. Change estimate usually focuses on cost, resource, and schedule changes.

Committed Cost: A cost agreed on but has not yet been paid, such as a purchase contract or purchase order. The committed cost has been made such that the amount is no longer recoverable.

Construction Management Software: A digital tool that general contractors and subcontractors use to manage all aspects of the project with an option to collaborate will ensure transparency on the current condition on-site.

Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS): A project is broken down into cost elements for cost management planning. A CBS aims to deconstruct a project into various cost types or elements such as area, discipline, phase, or materials.

Critical Activity: An activity that is positioned on the project’s critical path.

Critical Path: Refers to the sequence of network activities that account for the longest overall duration. A project’s Critical Path determines the shortest time possible to reach completion.

Critical Path Method Scheduling (CPM): A project modeling technique or algorithm for scheduling a definite set of project activities. Developed in the 1950s, CPM scheduling intends to build a project model that contains:

  1. List of all activities needed to complete the project (usually categorized within a work breakdown structure),
  2. The dependencies between each activity,
  3. The time duration that every activity will take to finish, and
  4. Logical endpoints like milestones or deliverable items.

Date Constraint: A restriction imposed on an activity’s start or finish date in construction scheduling software. Setting a constraint will switch the computed date to the date imposed by the user. Typically used to impose deadlines or to delay activities in a project schedule.

Direct Labour: This can signify two things (1) Labour that can be directly allocated to the output of a cost center or productive account, compared with indirect labor, which is indirectly related to output. (2) Labour hired directly by owner or general contractor instead of sub-contract labor.

Duration: The calendar periods it takes (or is estimated count) from the time an element starts to execute up to the moment it is completed.

Early Start: The earliest time an activity can start within the imposed targets and logic in the network.

Early Finish: The earliest time an activity can finish within the imposed targets and logic in the network.

Estimate: Evaluation of time and man-hours, expected quantities, with provisions and allowances for the expected predicament.

Estimated Cost: An approximated amount derived through a cost estimation method such as using empirical methods or historicals.

Float: Refers to the amount of time in which activity in a project network can be moved or delayed without causing a delay to the project completion date (total float) or subsequent tasks (free float)

Forward Pass: The initial step in the CPM scheduling algorithm. Forward pass calculates every activity’s early start and early finish date.

Free Float: The duration of time that spans from the completion of one initially scheduled activity and extends to the point that the next scheduled activity is set to begin.

Gantt Chart: A popularly known time-based activity chart in which an array of horizontal lines shows the production percentage of the amount of work done in specific periods of time in relation to the cost projected for those periods.

Incurred Cost: Expenses acquired from project activities.

Indirect Cost: These are costs that are not directly accountable to a work package or activity. Indirect costs may be either variable or fixed. Indirect costs include construction crew management; these are the costs that are not directly related to construction production. Some indirect costs may fall under overhead cost, but some overhead can be directly attributed to the project and are direct costs.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI): This is a type of performance measurement in construction used to evaluate the success of a company or of a particular activity in which it engages.

Lag: A scheduled delay on an activity logic link wherein a successor activity will expect to be delayed with respect to the predecessor activity.

Late Finish: The latest date possible date for an activity to get finished without affecting the overall finish date of the project.

Late Start: The latest date possible date for an activity to get started without affecting the overall finish date of the project.

Lead: The duration of time where a successor activity can be moved ahead with respect to a predecessor activity. Usually, this is referred to as a negative lag.

Loop: A logic scheduling error where a succeeding activity attempts to start earlier to a preceding activity.

Lost Time: Refers to the productive time lost because of labor problems, inclement weather, equipment failure, or other causes.

Master Schedule: A high-level summary-type schedule that is a combination of other independent project sub-schedules.

Milestone: An event to mark distinct points in time along with a project schedule. These points may flag anchors such as the project start and end dates, a need for external input or review, and budget checks, among other things. In most instances, milestones do not impact overall project duration. Rather, they focus on major progress points in the timeline that must be reached to achieve success.

Project Network: This is a graph or a flow chart representing the sequence in which a project’s terminal elements need to be completed by showing terminal components and dependencies. The project network is always drawn from left to right in order to reflect project chronology.

Open ends: This is any project Activity without a predecessor or a successor activity.

Percent Complete: A percentage number between 0 and 100 shows the partial completeness of an activity, work package, or project.

Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT): This is a statistical tool used in construction project management, which was designed to represent and analyze the tasks included in completing a given project. It is commonly used in partnership with the critical path method (CPM), which the United States Navy first developed in the 1950s. This conjunction is known as the PERT-CPM Method.

Planned Cost: An agreed estimated cost for the items used or the whole project in general.

Planning Engineer: A specialized engineer who makes the project timescale schedules and closely manages them using a software package.

Predecessor/s: A predecessor activity is an activity that determines the start or finish date of the following activity based on the logical relationship.

Procurement: Procurement management is the acquisition of goods, works, or services from an external source. It is favorable that the goods, works, or services are appropriate and that they are procured at the most economical cost to meet the needs of the acquirer in terms of quantity, quality, location, and time.

Project Control: Refers to setting and monitoring cost and schedule deliverables, anticipating variances, and applying preventive actions of approved changes.

Schedule: A schedule is a list of a project’s activities, deliverables, milestones, usually ordered with projected start and finish dates. These items are often estimated in terms of budget resource allocation and duration, linked by scheduled events and dependencies.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): A WBS in construction project management is a deliverable-oriented breakdown of a project into smaller elements. A WBS is a key project deliverable that systematizes the project’s work into manageable segments. 

Work Package (WP): A WP is a subset of a project that can be designated to a specific part for the execution phase. Because of their similarity, work packages are usually misidentified as projects.

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