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(PS-2390) Critical Path Shifts: Everything You Need to Know

Level: Advanced
Author(s): Mark F. Nagata, PSP; William Haydt
Venue: 2017 AACE International Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL

Abstract: Due to the dynamic nature of construction projects, the critical path can and often does shift from one work path to another work path in response to progress and project events. Identifying precisely when a critical path shift occurs is essential to assigning delay to both the responsible critical activity as well as the responsible party, and ultimately to determine whether delays are excusable and compensable. Correctly identifying when a critical path shift occurs can determine whether an owner assesses liquidated damages or grants a time extension and, if applicable, pays a contractor for its delay damages. Critical path shifts vary from the obvious to the hidden, even the arcane. For example, it is possible for non-critical work to be delayed only a day and result in a critical path shift and project delay of a day or more, which is a characteristic of a critical activity. This seems counter to common wisdom. This paper will explain how this happens, define what a critical path shift is, identify its two basic causes, and provide examples to demonstrate precisely why and when a critical path shift occurs.