Thank you for the opportunity to comment. We offer the following:

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To: Randy Boysen, MDT Specifications Bureau

RE: Comments on proposed specs for May, 2012

Thank you for the opportunity to comment. We offer the following:

108.03.3 Critical Path Method Scheduling

As suggested, the MCA polled members on the use of Primavera P6 Software. 29 companies responded and only two companies use P6, and virtually every respondent, including the two using P6, oppose the requirement proposed by MDT.

One company had a certified Microsoft engineer, who specializes in critical path scheduling, look at the MDT spec and he found several items that were not best practices. Attached is his opinion.

The number one comment from our companies, they are not in favor of a single scheduling option and with compatible programs that can be converted or read in the Primavera program without requiring addition licensing and software updates. It is not a good idea to limit options to something proprietary.

It is never desirable to have a sole provider for any item. The lack of competition can stifle improvements in the product, and lead to excessive costs. Training a contractor’s employees in a new scheduling system takes time and money and can open a company up to increased errors during the learning process. The direction MDT appears to have chosen to go is ill conceived and far too restrictive. Several members questioned whether it is even legal to exclude all other brands of scheduling software.

We oppose this proposed spec change, and respectfully request that you leave it as written.

108.07.3 Working Day Contracts

We believe this proposed change is written too broadly. It is not uncommon for a contractor to mobilize on the same day work actually starts on a project. If a schedule is submitted and weather prohibits work on the first day in these instances, this should not be considered a working day. We suggest striking the last sentence of this proposed spec. We also suggest you remove the word “approved” in the phrase: “…or those planned based on the approved schedule. We are not aware that MDT is currently approving schedules.

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203.03.2 Embankment

The proposed change involving unstable or pumping material too broad. First, the subgrade or native material may be the source of the pumping or instability, the requirement needs to be limited to embankment placed. Also certain soils are plastic (clay) by nature. In order to get adequate compaction and meet the requirements these soils usually need to be at or above optimum moisture (at the upper limits of allowable) in order to achieve compaction. Often times with these types of soils minor pumping occurs in conjunction with obtaining compaction. This needs to be acknowledged. We request that MDT re-write this spec for further review.

301.03.5 Aggregate Surfacing Construction

F. Curing—additional time will have to be added to contract completion dates to allow for this to occur, especially in urban locations and phased projects. Also, some provision should be allowed for exemption on small areas (tapers, connections, roundabout construction etc) where enforcement is not practical.

G. Restrictions—Unstable comment needs to be restricted to the base that is failing. If the subgrade or native material is where the failure occurs, it may be a design issue of not enough section, fabric, or grid that is required to stabilize the foundation.

210.03.6 Test Trailer….

We question whether the required $85,000 insurance coverage on the state-owned trailer should be the contractor’s responsibility. How can a company secure insurance on equipment they neither own or rent?

301.03.5 Aggregate Surfacing Construction

F. Curing—additional time will have to be added to contract completion dates to allow for this to occur, especially in urban locations and phased projects. Also, some provision should be allowed for exemption on small areas (tapers, connections, roundabout construction etc) where enforcement is not practical.

G. Restrictions—Unstable comment needs to be restricted to the base that is failing. If the subgrade or native material is where the failure occurs, it may be a design issue of not enough section, fabric, or grid that is required to stabilize the foundation.

Thank you again for the opportunity to offer these comments.

Respectfully,

Cary Hegreberg, Executive Director

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Opinion on MDT’s Scheduling Standards Offered by David Hunsberger

Microsoft Project Instructor and Senior Scheduler Microsoft Certified Professional, MS Project (1995) www.it7.com

Background: The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) incorporates a series of schedule requirements into its construction contracts. This note comments on some of those requirements.

1. Use of Automated Software Tools vs. Manual Scheduling Techniques. If MDT and the contractor agree to use widely available automated scheduling software, such as Primavera or Microsoft Project, for example, then there should be no need for the contractor to be concerned with manual scheduling techniques and tools. References to “Activity on Node” (AON), Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM) and “i-node-j-node” all relate to manual schedule creation and calculation options that have become obsolete in practice, even though these are still seen in textbooks. Unless MDT and the contractor agree to use manual schedule techniques it would be helpful to take out references to these techniques in contractual documents.

2. Methods of Transmitting Computer Data. The contract calls for computer disks to be submitted, and refers to ANSI D drawings. It would be helpful if these requirements could be modified to permit submission of standard Primavera or Microsoft Project data files by e-mail, and to eliminate any specific formats, since both MDT and the contractor can choose among many display formats once the data files have been transmitted.

3. Restrictions on Links and Lags. MDT requires that tasks in the submitted schedule have finish to start relationships with no leads or lags. This is too restrictive, as it

removes the possibility of using other relationships such as start-to start relationships, and removes the possibility of using reasonable lags separating tasks’ start or finish dates. Quite often a start-to-start relationship, especially one with lags between the start dates, is the most accurate model of what will happen on a project, so this should not be ruled out in the schedule. Consider tasks that are related and run approximately in parallel, such as work that involves inspection -- welding or backfilling for example. An excellent

scheduling relationship in these cases is to show the inspection running in parallel with the welding or backfilling linked start-to-start, with a lag to allow the work to get underway before the inspection begins. If start-to-start relationships and lags are not allowed in the schedule, the contractor is required to show each task coming to a

complete stop before the next task begins. To comply with these restrictions a contractor may have to distort the schedule, breaking the work into small unrealistic bits such that each task can be linked finish to start with no lag to the prior task.

4. Restrictions on Date Constraints. Schedules often include external dependencies on events over which they have no control, or only limited control. The accepted way of

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Opinion on MDT’s Scheduling Standards, by David Hunsberger Page 2

representing such external events in a schedule is with date constraints. MDT has specifically ruled out any “restraints” other than “contractual restraints”, which creates unnecessary limitations on the logic of the schedule. Take for example the hiring of an expert consultant to visit a project. The consultant may be available only on a particular fixed future date, and once that date is agreed upon, it is appropriate to put that date into the schedule with a date constraint. However, with MDT’s restrictions on constraints this consulting event has to be linked finish to start to some prior event, so the contractor is forced to create an unnecessary dummy prior task that finishes on the exact day the consultant is to arrive. It is true that date constraints are commonly overused, and that they can “hijack” the critical path in some cases, but constraints correctly applied are a necessary and useful part of creating sound schedules that model the real world.

5. Inconsistent Restrictions on Activity Durations. MDT’s contracts require that no activity be longer than 20 working days, but the very next requirement is that MDT be allowed 30 calendar days to review submittals. This is inconsistent – a 30-calendar-day period is usually one or two days longer than 20 working days.

6. General Comments on the Critical Path. No scheduling topic seems to be as

misunderstood as the critical path. Some managers wrongly believe the critical path must have all the key, important events of the project on it, whereas in fact these important events may not be on the critical path at all. Modern scheduling software has a number of controls that the user can employ to modify the critical path, such as setting a slack threshold other than zero, setting a switch allowing multiple critical paths (to several end points), and setting deadline dates on contractual milestones to represent intermediate “end points” for the purposes of critical path creation.. Each of these controls can be used to provide managers with a more useful view of tasks that can afford to slip somewhat and those that cannot. In requiring contractors to illustrate the critical path through a project schedule MDT should show understanding of these controls, or the critical path result provided by the contractor may not be what was intended, and may not be useful.

7. Concluding Comment. It is entirely reasonable for MDT to require its contractors to submit and maintain logical and coherent schedules. Holding contractors to specific schedule standards is a reasonable part of this requirement. However, MDT’s current schedule standards are not entirely reasonable as written, and need an overhaul in several areas to allow MDT’s contractors to manage their work without undue hindrance.

Author: David Hunsberger is an independent schedule instructor and consultant living in Arlington, Virginia. His recent schedule clients have included the Office of the Joint Chiefs (Pentagon), the US Navy, and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as several construction companies.

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As discussed at the May 16, 2012 Highway Technical Meeting, the MCA conducted a two question poll of our Highway Contractor Members regarding the proposed change to

Specification Section 108.03.3, in which the MDT would require and accept only Primavera P6 software.

Twenty Nine (29) Companies responded.

For Question 1) Do you currently use Primavera P6?  Twenty Six (26) do not use P6.

 Two (2) companies use P6 (one is an engineering firm that does not construct).  One (1) company is using P3 and is not in favor of upgrading to P6.

For Question 2) Are you in favor of this being the single scheduling option?  Twenty Nine (29) responded NO.

Other comments included:

1) We are not in favor of a single scheduling option. There are compatible programs that can be converted or read in the Primavera program without requiring addition

licensing and software updates. If it were a 5 year phasing to this software, then perhaps.

2) I think the direction MDOT appears to have chosen to go is ill conceived and far too restrictive. At this point I am not even sure if it would be legal as they are excluding all other brands of scheduling software in deference to one of their choosing.

3) No, what [company name] currently has and utilizes is Primavera P3. P6 may be a better scheduling software, but we aren’t familiar with it. I’m sure the costs

associated with purchasing the software are fairly large also, so we would prefer not to have P6 as the only scheduling option.

4) The answers are No and No. We currently use Microsoft Projects for our scheduling program. It works well for the type and complexity of projects we do, we are familiar with it, and we have already purchased it. It is never desirable to have a sole provider for any item. The lack of competition can stifle improvements in the product, and lead to excessive costs. Training a contractor’s employees in a new scheduling system takes time and money and can open a company up to increased errors during the learning process. 1717 11th Avenue P.O. Box 4519 Helena, MT 59604 Ph: 406.442.4162 Fax: 406.449.3199

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5) [company name] does not use Primavera P6 and we are not in favor of this being the single scheduling option.

6) I agree with [person name], it seems unfair for MDT to put all of their eggs in the P6 basket. Plus, I've heard the software is very expensive.

7) We currently use MS Project. We addressed this issue at the February 15th Hwy Tech meeting. We agreed to compatible verbiage because the new versions of MS Project were capable with P6. If I remember correctly from that meeting, there was only one contractor present who used Primavera and it was an old version. All the other contractors present used MS Project. I’m not sure what efficiency is gained (if any) by the Department if MS Project is compatible. It appears that there is a large

expense of both purchasing and training Contractors and Department personnel when it is not necessary.

8) It would be nice to let the Contractors decide which schedule program they would like to use and purchase.

 

9) No and No. P6 is large and more than projects of our size and complexity need, so is the cost and time involved with using it. Also, why is the paper copy required to be 24” by 36”? For many companies, a professional copy is shop is required for paper this size. Ledger size, 11” by 17”, is more common and more easily handled by our office equipment.

10) No and NO. Last year I had a certified Microsoft engineer, who specializes in critical path scheduling, look at the MDT spec and he found several items that were not best practices. Attached is his opinion.

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