The part played by the agent in achieving progress

It is the contractors agent who has on-the-spot responsibility for programming the work and keeping progress in line. The resident engineers job is to assist the agent, if asked, and provide any information that the agent needs or that will be helpful to him. As the work proceeds the resident engineer will keep a check on progress, and must advise the engineer when unacceptably slow progress is occurring. Before acting formally in this matter the resident engineer should put his comments to the agent, seeking to find out why work is going slow and endeavouring to persuade him to take steps to speed up construction.
He must also identify causes of delay for which the employer is responsible.
Acontractors slow progress can be caused by many factors lack of labour, lack of skilled key men, a weak general foreman, or an agent not sufficiently decisive or good at organization, or tending to under-estimate the difficulty of a job and failing to foresee problems arising. Sometimes the cause may lie with the contractors head office, such as slowness in getting materials or equipment to site. This may be indicative of the contractor being outstretched, either organizationally or financially. It is important that the resident engineer gets sufficient information to give the engineer reliable advice as to where the cause of slow progress lies because, if the lack of progress continues, the engineer will have to take up the matter formally with the contractor.
Agood agent is an inestimable benefit to a project. He automatically thinks in terms of the critical path that lies ahead, and has clearly in his mind where the job ought to be in a months or 2 months time. But to get there he has to make many decisions in the present. He has to seize opportunities, overcome delays, take extra work into account, suffer inefficiencies of labour and breakdowns of plant, find solutions to unexpected problems, face the vagaries of the weather and, despite all these, keep the work going at the required pace to gain his targets. The immediate targets are short term this weeks in detail, next weeks in outline. If he can achieve them, he knows they are within the longer term strategy he has already worked out.
He has also to be aware of the need to have safety margins of time in hand for overcoming all sorts of difficulties that his experience tells him will inevitably crop up, even though he cannot forecast the precise form they will take. Many factors influence his judgement. He will be quick to detect when things are in his favour when weather seems to promise fine, when the spirit on the job is good and the men are working efficiently as a team and, grasping such opportunities, he will use them to drive the job onwards, knowing that one  success leads to another. By experience and force of his personality he may pull the job ahead of schedule and complete before the promised time.

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