A particular problem for productivity in engineering construction projects is poor front-end planning, in particular, the lack of attention to resource-loaded schedules. In such projects, resources are highly specific and constrained, resulting in conflicts that can compromise planned durations and add cost. There are many techniques available for mitigating these conflicts. These have been extensively reported and compared in the literature and some have been adopted into commercially available computerized schedul- ing packages that are used by most major contractors. Project managers normally have access only to the techniques offered by the software that their organizations happen to use. In the reported case, a heuristic algorithm developed by academics was implemented and tested against a well-known standard software scheduling tool on the construction of a combined-cycle power plant in Iran. When results were compared, the performance of the manually applied algorithm was found to be superior in its ability to provide acceptable time–cost trade-offs. The underlying argument is twofold. First, that deficiencies in planning (particularly the reconciliation of resource constraints with completion targets) are responsible for poor productivity in engineering construction projects. Second, as improved techniques for optimizing ‘resource-loaded’ schedules are continually being sought and devised, they should be made available to project managers; and the best way for this to happen is for them to be incorporated into commercially available project management software.