<img alt="" src="https://secure.coup7cold.com/202326.png" style="display:none;">

Project Management Series, Part 1:  Does Time Really Equal Money?

Posted by Michael Bensussen on Tuesday, May 4, 2021

This is the first of a three-part series. 

We have all been told that time equals money. Even, time is money. But what does any of that truly mean? Time and money separately are highly debatable subjects. The combination of the two can certainly be a conundrum. However, it is my belief that in construction, A&D, or any industry really, this may as well be a law of the universe. Consider this, he or she who controls the schedule of the project, controls the cost of the project. Thus, the schedule is one of the most important documents your project(s) may ever possess. 

More specifically, a schedule that is smoothed and calculated based on the budgeted cost of the project and relative funding-cash-flows-available equals a useful and valuable tool for managing and understanding a project.

Sample Cash Flow - Image for BlogMaterials cost money, labor costs money, equipment costs money. Each of these unique facets of a project carries an inherent time cost, as well. It takes time to deliver critical materials, time to excavate foundations, pour concrete, install piping, etc. When time and cost are considered congruently and in parallel, a different picture starts to develop than when the components of time and money are considered separately. That picture gives the project manager, owner, and all other stakeholders:

  1. the vision of individual, time-phased, cost-weighted project components.
  2. the ability to forecast cash flow requirements.
  3. a method of stating the project’s truthful earned value.
  4. an auditable payment trail for services or goods rendered.

Scheduling can take on many forms. However, the most prominent type of schedule is the critical-path-method (CPM). This scheduling methodology boasts a lengthy track record of use dating back to the 1960s. Essentially, a CPM schedule identifies each specific component of the project and in which area of the project it will be performed. In order to do this, a discrete work breakdown structure (WBS) must be developed. From there, sub-networks may be incorporated to further break down and understand specific areas of the project. 

Labor, equipment and material dollar values can then be integrated into the schedule. All of this will allow for increased control and greater insight into projected funding requirements throughout the life of the project. CPM scheduling is used in this manner as a roadmap of past, present, and future activity and costs on the project. sample-01

As the pressures of both time and money continue to escalate it is interesting to find how undervalued the cost-loaded schedule is when developing, executing, and maintaining time and cost on a notable amount of complex projects.

Moreover, some projects do not require scheduling congruent with the critical-path-method, and generally, exert very little energy in scheduling and cash flow documentation at all. For some of today’s project management professionals, delivering projects under more progressive contracting methods nearly eliminates the use of schedules altogether. This is alarming given that a cost-loaded schedule is an invaluable tool for planning and executing a project. In addition, this method contributes to healthier relationships between stakeholders. Monthly project status evaluations using tangible and meaningful data encourage improved communication and foster a healthier atmosphere of coordination such that both time and money can be controlled with greater accuracy and transparency. Finally, it is paramount that a realistic, accurate, and quality schedule be developed from the outset of the project, as this will ultimately illustrate and embody the project's true goals and objectives.

This is the first of a three-part series.  Please Subscribe to Our Blog to be notified when the next two parts are published, and to see Pinnacle's other blog posts.

Schedule a Call With Us or Send Us an Email for help with maturing your planning and scheduling organization.


Topics: Aerospace & Defense, Energy, Utilities, Oil & Gas, Engineering & Construction, Earned Value Management (EVM), Enterprise Project Controls (EPC), Technology, Government & Public Sector, Enterprise Project Management (EPM)

Michael Bensussen

By Michael Bensussen

Michael has more than 15 years combined cost engineering, scheduling, earned value management, construction and project management experience across a broad spectrum of industry and business. He leverages his understanding and knowhow with confidence. His ascendant vision is derived from diverse familiarity with Nuclear, Environmental, Oil & Gas, Mission Critical Commercial & Industrial, Transportation, and Higher Education projects. As a volunteer, Mike harnesses a passion for education and utilizes creativity to promulgate the project controls discipline. He is an active non-profit board member and contributes regularly in professional society. He will often appear as a guest speaker within the community while conducting educational outreach.

More articles by Michael Bensussen