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I fully agree with this guidance. Constraints override the network logic in

calculating activity start/finish dates and total float they should be used sparingly, if at all. Often, these will artificially reduce total float and could create an invisible delay, or even have the activity just expand to take all available time. A better approach is to use activity durations and network logic to model the project, and thereby eliminate constraints.

Scheduling criteria and results Most commercial planning/programming

software packages allow the user to choose scheduling criteria options. For example, Primavera P3 allows the user to choose either ‘retained logic’ or ‘progress override’ as one set of scheduling options. This simple choice will produce differing scheduling results; sometimes quite markedly. SureTrak software also allows the user to choose either retained logic or progress override as a key scheduling option. The retained logic option assumes that the

original programme logic is still valid, even when out-of-sequence progress has taken place, such as an activity actually starting before its predecessor logic says it can. Therefore, if an activity actually starts early (i.e. out-of-sequence), retaining logic sometimes creates unexpected and illogical sequencing of follow-on activities, producing a project duration that may be unreasonably long. Progress override assumes that if an activity

begins out of sequence, the original logic is no longer valid, and deletes predecessor logic ties once an activity has begun. This avoids the sequencing problems sometimes found in retained logic. Where the two options are available, my

preference is almost always to use progress override. On the scheduling results, check that not too

many activities have ‘0’ total float; the total number should be 10–15%. Also check the number of activities which are near critical; say total float of 1–10 days. It is my view and experience that this criteria is reasonable.

Critical path and near-critical paths The longest path, that is the critical path, should

be reasonable and show an unbroken sequence of work from the start to finish of the project. Also check the reasonableness of near-critical paths. A good criteria for ‘near critical’ is within 10 work days of the project’s critical path. ●

For further information please contact the author on +44 24 7624 3607 or email roger.gibson@


This is a selection of recent questions to the NEC Users’ Group helpline and answers given. In all cases it is assumed there are no amendments that materially affect the standard NEC3 contract referred to.

Is stationery recoverable as part of defined cost? Question I am working on an NEC3 Engineering and

Construction Contract (ECC) option C contract. Is the contractor entitled to be paid for stationery as part of defined cost? It appears not to be a cost component in the schedule of cost components (SCC), so is it deemed to be part of the fee percentage?

Answer Stationery falls within the definition of

equipment as set out in clause 11.2(7). Since this stationery is bought and consumed it is paid for under item 25 of the SCC. The only exception is stationery that falls within one of the definitions for working areas overhead as listed in item 44 of the SCC. In that case it is not paid because it is included in the percentage for working areas overhead; an example of that would be paper or toner for a photocopier or fax.

Mitigating the cost of delay due to bad weather Question Due to the recent weather events and the forecast of continuing poor weather over the coming week to 10 days, the contractor has suggested to us as project manager that it should demobilise from site rather than sitting and doing nothing. How should we deal with this and what are the key considerations?

Answer Ultimately, it is the contractor that has to decide

how best to deal with this situation, although it is absolutely right that the contractor involves you in the discussions. By all means say that that seems a good idea if you think it is, but obviously refrain from instructing the contractor to do it. The weather event itself may or may not end up

being a compensation event. This depends upon whether the snow (or temperatures below zero) in the month (assuming these are stated weather measurements) meets the requirements of clause 60.1(13). I would encourage the contractor to get the information on this as soon as possible to determine whether in fact a compensation event has occurred or not. If it has, then the time bar limitations of clause 61.3 should be noted. Of course, the sooner you know whether it is or is not a compensation event, the sooner you can deal with it and know where you are going. The financial risk of the event depends upon

which main option you have. With option A and B it remains with the contractor unless it is a compensation event, in which case anything in excess of the 1-in10-year return average becomes the employer’s financial risk. With option C and D it is a shared financial risk up to the 1-in10- year return average, after which, as with option A and B, it becomes the employer’s financial risk. But whoever’s risk it is, it is in everybody’s best interests to try to resolve it as economically as possible.

Claim for loss of profits Question Under ECC clause 60.1(4) the project manager

can instruct the contractor not to start any work and we have a situation where we have issued an instruction stopping part of the works. However, it

Understanding the UK government’s NEC-based FM framework DUNCAN MARKWELL NEC ACCOUNT MANAGER

NEC has developed a one-day training course specifically linked to the UK’s Buying Solutions framework agreement for public-sector facilities management work. The course is aims to help public-sector customers understand the mechanics of the framework and the key provisions of the Term Service Contract. Buying Solutions, the UK government’s

national procurement partner for public services, launched the four-year EU-compliant facilities management framework based on the


NEC3 Term Service Contract last summer. The framework is expected to be worth over £100 million a year. Eight suppliers were appointed to the

framework in July 2010. They are Carillion Services, EC Harris Solutions, Europa Facilities Services, Interserve (Facilities Management), ISS Facility Services, MITIE Facilities Services, Norland Managed Services and Skanska Facilities Services. The framework provides the full range of

facilities management services, which can be broken down into hard facilities management such as building maintenance, soft facilities management such as cleaning and catering, managed services such as health and safety, and additional relevant services such as telecommunications and compliance.●

For further information please contact Duncan Markwell on +44 20 7665 2474, email duncan.

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