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CIOB Planning Protocol: a scalable tool for creating effective programmes

The new CIOB Planning Protocol 2021 aims to remove the subjectivity that often exists when assessing the suitability of a project programme, explains Manoj Bahl

The new Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) Planning Protocol 2021 aims to help planners create robust schedules and mitigate risk. Previously known as the CIOB Programming Protocol, this is the institute’s latest initiative to drive forward the successful delivery of projects in the industry – and it is a powerful one.

Experience shows that the production of a programme by a contractor is often flawed from the outset of a project – due to time pressures, unknowns and a lack of due diligence – and often only a limited review of the programme is undertaken by an employer. This results in inadequately produced programmes frequently being adopted by a project team.

In turn, this means it is usually difficult, if not impossible, to properly understand the forecast completion date, progress, the planned or as-built critical paths, the impact of change, or the liability for any delays that may arise. This adversely affects all project stakeholders.

“The pass/fail nature of the protocol should make it easy for parties to understand what is required of the construction programme, removing subjectivity”

So creating best-practice guidelines for use in the production and verification of a construction programme would clearly be of huge benefit to all those involved in the life of a project, and in resolving disputes afterwards.

To make the tool relevant to all project stakeholders, broad planning expertise and input were required. Paul Taylor, from Mace’s planning team, and Keith McCall, from the Arup project management team, joined me on this project to provide their extensive project experience.

Between us, we identified the key elements with which a programme ought to comply (stress tests) and guidelines (thresholds) that could be universally adopted by project teams to produce or verify a programme to assist in the management and timely delivery of a project.

From a practical perspective, the pass/fail nature of the protocol should make it easy for parties to understand what is required of the construction programme, removing the subjectivity that often exists when assessing suitability.

The result of this work is a tool, specific to the UK industry but intended for use internationally, which is being used by contractors, project managers and clients to assist in the preparation of high-quality programmes. It also ensures that a reliable programme is available to help resolve any time-related disputes should they occur and has successfully been used as the starting-point for a number of delay analyses.

The CIOB Planning Protocol 2021 is now available to download free of charge from the CIOB website.

Manoj Bahl is senior managing director in the construction solutions team at FTI Consulting.

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