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Published June 2021, Updated April 2023

Construction Schedule Narratives

Published February 2023

Construction Schedule Narratives : Our Best Tips with Examples

Are you a construction contractor looking to save time and streamline your workflow? Check out our schedule narrative templates here.

      In this article, we’re sharing tips for contractors who prepare construction schedule narratives that are submitted to the owner, the government in federal or military construction projects, or other project stakeholders.

      A construction schedule narrative serves as a crucial document that outlines the project’s status, projections, and current and potential issues. A well-written narratives makes it easier for the project stakeholders to understand the project’s progress and issues.

      Contractors face challenges in creating effective narratives when they treat the narrative as a data dump without providing context. Additionally, the lack of clear correlation between discussion topics and schedule activities, long-winded paragraphs without supporting graphics, and a lack of transparency can also contribute to the struggle of creating a useful and effective narrative.

      Effective communication of the project’s status and issues through the construction schedule narrative is crucial for a successful construction project, allowing stakeholders to make informed decisions to benefit the project as a whole.

      A well-written narrative can also protect the contractor from disputes or claims by documenting progress and compliance with project requirements.

      See our tips for construction schedule narratives below:

      Tip 1: Don’t Treat the Narrative as a Data Dump
      Tip 2: Refer to Activity IDs
      Tip 3: Use Snipped Images
      Tip 4: Edit and Break Out Longer Paragraphs
      Tip 5: Be Transparent

          Snapshot from UFGS 01 32 01.00 10 Scheduling Specifications

          Remember that the schedule narrative should convey the contractor’s voice and perspective on the project, rather than being a mere relay of data already included in the attached reports.


          Schedule Narrative Reports

          This is an important distinction. Contractors may overlook this intended purpose of the narrative and provide a data dump of schedule file information, neglecting to translate the data to provide their own analysis and interpretation.


          Schedule reports that include activity IDs, names, dates, and other values are already required in the schedule submission as specified in the UFGS 01 32 00 scheduling specifications. When the narrative becomes a data dump, it duplicates efforts that are already dedicated to preparing these required reports.


          Schedule Narrative Report

          Snapshot from UFGS 01 32 01.00 10 Scheduling Specifications

          The schedule narrative is typically required with each schedule submission to the owner or government, and it’s essential the narrative effectively communicate the contractor’s understanding of the project’s status and any related issues.


          For example, the snapshot below is from the standard UFGS 01 32 01.00 10 scheduling specification used in military and federal construction projects, stating the narrative is expected to communicate the contractor’s “thorough analysis of the schedule output.”


          Tip 1: Don’t Treat the Narrative as a Data Dump

          Whereas this example narrative identifies the issues as well as the activity ID, so the reader can look in the schedule to look at the dates and float values to understand how urgent it is.

          Schedule Narrative Example - With Activity ID

          Schedule Narrative Example - With Activity ID

          Schedule Narrative Example - Without Activity ID

          Schedule Narrative Example - Without Activity ID

          Tip 2: Refer to Activity IDs

          To effectively communicate the progress and issues of a construction project to stakeholders, contractors should refer to the schedule’s Activity IDs as much as possible in the narrative. This allows readers to cross-reference the narrative with the project schedule to understand the context and urgency of what’s being written about.


          Omitting Activity IDs from the narrative can lead to confusion and inaccurate assumptions because the reader may be unable to directly take what they’re reading in the narrative back to the project schedule. This becomes particularly problematic when discussing current and anticipated problems in the narrative.


          By clearly identifying Activity IDs in the narrative, readers can quickly locate the corresponding activity in the schedule and evaluate its dates and float values. This information enables stakeholders to prioritize their actions to address critical issues in the correct order, leading to improved project outcomes for all parties involved.


          For example, this example narrative states a current issue without providing an Activity ID to refer to in the schedule:

          Schedule Narrative Example – Refers to Activity ID, Dates, and Snapshot

          When incorporating images and graphics into the narrative, contractors should ensure they are high quality and easy to read. Images that are too small or unclear can detract from the readability of the narrative.

          Schedule Narrative Example – Refers to Activity ID, Dates, and Snapshot

          Tip 3: Use Snipped Images

          Construction schedule narrative can be dense and challenging to read, especially for individuals who are not well-versed in construction scheduling. Therefore, contractors should aim to make their narratives as readable as possible. One way to do this is by incorporating snipped images and graphics of the project schedule wherever possible.


          These images serve a dual purpose. Firstly, they support and back up what the contractor is writing about in their narrative. For example, a contractor might discuss an issue with a specific activity or a delay in the schedule. By including an image of the schedule that shows the affected activity or delay, the contractor can better illustrate the point they are trying to make.


          Secondly, incorporating graphics into the schedule narrative helps to break up the text and make it more digestible. By dividing the narrative into sections with graphics, readers can more easily navigate the document and understand the flow of the project.


          For example, the snapshot below includes a snip of the schedule that supports the writing and clearly states the “need-by” dates for the owner to be aware of before impact starts.

          Schedule Narrative Example Critical Path
          Schedule Narrative Example Critical Path

          Schedule Narrative Example Longest Path

          By taking the time to carefully edit the construction schedule narrative, the contractor can create a clear, concise, and effective communication tool that provides project stakeholders with the information they need to understand the project’s status, issues, and actions they can take to facilitate progress.

          Compare this to the snapshot below, which breaks up the information into smaller, more easily digestible sections, and includes a snapshot of the longest path for the reader to follow along.


          Schedule Narrative Example Longest Path

          Tip 4: Edit and Break Out Longer Paragraphs

          In any construction project, the schedule narrative plays a crucial role in communication between the contractor, owner, government, and project stakeholders. It’s essential the narrative is well-written and easy to read, with clear and concise language that delivers the necessary information without ambiguity.


          To ensure the narrative is easy to follow, the contractor should consider editing to remove any unnecessary sections or long-winded paragraphs that don’t add value to the overall narrative. Note that editing isn’t about shortening the narrative at all costs, but about ensuring the narrative is clear and concise, with each sentence and paragraph serving a clear purpose.


          For example, the snapshot below describes the longest path in a long, singular paragraph:


          Tip 5: Be Transparent

          To make sure everyone is on the same page, it's important for the contractor to be transparent in their schedule narratives. This way, the owner, government, and project stakeholders can all work together to prioritize efforts to maximize the positive benefits for the project.


          By being open and honest in their schedule narratives, the contractor can show that they're being fair and objective in their analysis of the project status and issues. Contractors should also discuss all project issues, regardless of if they're caused by the owner, government, or the contractor.


          Providing a transparent and objective schedule narrative can also enhance a contractor's credibility in a delay situation, compared to a biased or slanted narrative. By clearly documenting the project's progress and issues, the contractor demonstrates their commitment to delivering a successful project, while also reducing the risk of potential disputes.

          Construction Schedule Narrative Template 01 32 17.00 20
          Construction Schedule Narrative Template 01 32 16.00 20
          Construction Schedule Narrative Template 01 32 01.00 10

          In this article, we’ve offered tips for contractors to improve their construction schedule narratives. By providing well-written and transparent narratives, contractors can ensure stakeholders have a clear understanding of the project’s progress and issues, facilitating informed decisions for a successful project execution.


          These tips can also help protect contractors from potential disputes or claims by providing thorough documentation of compliance with project requirements and progress. By implementing these strategies, contractors can improve communication and strengthen relationships with stakeholders for a success project outcome.


          Tip 1: Don’t Treat the Narrative as a Data Dump

          Tip 2: Refer to Activity IDs

          Tip 3: Use Snipped Images

          Tip 4: Edit and Break Out Longer Paragraphs

          Tip 5: Be Transparent


          Questions or comments? Reach us at connect@cpm-ss.com.


          Thanks for reading.


          Save time and streamline your workflow with our professionally designed and formatted Construction Schedule Narrative Templates  that provides a detailed table of contents, example snapshots, and guided topics throughout.


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