Restarting Projects, Construction, and COVID-19

The Significance of Understanding the Critical Path When Continuing Construction during Pandemic

Since most construction companies in the United States and other parts of the world have limited production due to health and safety reasons, one hurdle for contractors may be advancing current projects. Since the Federal and State governments have announced the phased opening and deemed construction as essential, the construction firms must have safe planning guidelines and revival strategies to restart projects.

Construction companies must define the Critical path to the project. The Critical path of a project will encompass reducing cost overruns and preventing employee termination/layoff while still completing the project on time. However, the inability to define and adhere to a critical path may cause more of a loss to the business. In other words, the contractors and project managers should aim for the more immediate and critical tasks rather than following the overwhelming list of activities that could be worked on at a later date. Using construction accounting and project management software could be a big help in documenting the jobs and scheduling them in advance.

What Does A Critical Path Look Like?

As the concept of planning the critical path may get over complicated with multiple activities left behind, there are some important factors which project managers should understand for defining the critical path:

Check Actual Starts

For the activities that were started before the outbreak of pandemic and were not completed, start with recording the date and time. From actual starts, we mean to locate the predecessors i.e. activities involved in a particular task which are complete or reached a point of overlapping the activities of other tasks.

Once you locate such points, mark the actual starts. Since it may get cumbersome, using a project management and accounting software could be a great deal in locating such points and assigning a comment, log entry, or memo at that place. This memo could be further accessed by internal teams to locate and prioritize critical activities.

The Actual Finishes

Now, this can be done with the same process as you have marked the actual starts. It requires marking those activities which were finished but were not recorded in the actual plan or the work breakdown structure. All such activities should be recorded at priority.

The entire concept behind the definition of Actual Finishes is to locate the successor activities which must be started following the activity that has been finished but not recorded.

This section also needs you to make a note of any material or items that can help to start the activity. In other words, any such data that cause hindrance to the successor activity should be appended using your project management and scheduling software.

The Remaining Durations

Once you are done locating the actual starts and actual finishes, the next thing to do is to locate activities that were started but are not finished. This will be your list of activities that have work in progress status.

On locating all activities that are under progress, you should immediately make a record of the remaining duration of the activity as per the Work Breakdown Structure. Further, this new record should be aligned with the resources from the original record in accordance with the duration marked for the activities.

This data could be then used to restart and create an adjusted duration of the resources that are in place. The adjusted duration should be considered a revision of the original plan and timeline.


Field personnel, such as project managers are more productive once tracking of tasks have been completed. After recording data such as actual finish dates, an expected budget percentage could be developed that may vary from the original scheduled percent of completion.

Therefore, the project managers and schedulers should try to run down the figures and data to create a recovery schedule and work plan, by mining the activities that were adversely affected by the pandemic restrictions. Further any possible complications and hurdles should be discussed with project personnel to ensure a safe comeback that has no unwanted costs involved.

The entire process to define this critical path is very important to sustain construction projects until the “All Clear” signal comes from the government and supply chain resumes. Moreover, it can be a cost-effective alternative to continue the projects since it will help spare time until your trusted supplier resumes business-as-usual.

Good Luck!

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