Do you know what your project schedule is REALLY telling you?
The project schedule for a complex linear infrastructure or other construction project should ideally drive the timeline and the work being done on the project.
But all too often the project schedule follows the work being done.
When this happens, the project schedule, the project management team and the project itself are at risk of falling behind.
5 ways to ascertain if a project schedule is at risk:
Are any of the following situations familiar to you?
- Project meetings are disorganized because the stakeholders have incomplete or inaccurate schedule data.
- The project manager or construction manager carries around a copy of “their schedule”, which is unfortunately not the latest version of the project schedule, to use for project meetings.
- The work site and home office have significantly different interpretations of what the project progress status is.
- Schedule forecast dates being reported to upper management are not supported by sound schedule analysis and cannot withstand scrutiny.
- The schedule is constantly being “re-baselined” to try and establish the latest new plan for project completion.
If you answered yes to 2 or more questions – your project schedule may be at risk. It may be time to consider conducting a schedule review by a third party facilitator.
How project schedules become at risk:
During the development of an initial project schedule, data is used from many sources to compile a full and accurate representation of the work to be executed and the associated timeline.
Information from project objectives/drivers, cost estimates, equipment and resource utilization, crew sizing, area congestion, etc. are all taken into account to create a project schedule that is to be used to successfully manage and progress the project. This should all be documented in the Schedule Basis document.
As the project execution gets underway, variances against the schedule baseline occur, resulting in changes that need to be incorporated into the schedule to communicate the information back to the project team.
Doing this effectively provides the team with the current project status and a plan/forecast for the remaining work, as well as reduces risk to the project schedule and budget.
If the schedule is not accurately progressed, the message may become lost and the critical areas of focus become unclear. Often the project team knows what those areas are, but may not be seeing them in the schedule updates and analysis.
The reasons for this are two-fold.
- Firstly, the schedule model needs to be robust and representative of the full project scope. If it is not, schedule variances may show little impact to the project critical path or near critical paths, essentially hiding the very data that the project team needs to effectively manage the project. This makes it extremely difficult for the team to address the issues, identify risks, introduce mitigations, or recognize and take advantage of opportunities.
- Secondly, progress updates of the schedule can be a challenge for some teams. Getting timely and solid data back from the work site and quickly incorporating it into the progress update is critical in understanding the project status and forecast.
How a third party schedule review can recover your project schedule
A third party schedule review can be beneficial in:
- Helping a team understand if the project schedule and basis document have been fully developed to provide the information necessary to properly manage the project.
- Providing a fresh and unbiased look at what has been developed, and identify the areas where the schedule could be strengthened.
- Challenging the assumptions made and information used in the schedule development to test if they are still valid.
- Evaluating the workflow for progress updates and the efficacy of the process.
- Working with the project team to develop a plan that can be supported by all of the project stakeholders.
- Allowing the project planners and schedulers to use their expertise to participate in the review and get the most out of it, as opposed to running the review and trying to capture input.
If your project schedule is at risk, it’s time for a third party review.
As a company of seasoned Project Controls professionals, Petroglyph Project Analytics and Consulting Inc. are experts in conducting schedule reviews and helping all project stakeholders obtain a comprehensive understanding of the schedule and where to focus the valuable time and efforts of the project team.
Because we are project people, we have experienced many of the same project issues. We believe that employing a practical and knowledgeable approach to a thorough schedule review provides the best outcome.
If you believe that a schedule review could be beneficial for your project, please contact us and we would be happy to discuss it with you.