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The Phantom Schedule

Construction planner and scheduler Frank Lee was at it again. He was in the process of creating and developing another phantom project schedule for the Project Control Manager. The initiative started when the Project Manager complained to the Project Controls Manager.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said, “… this schedule forecast and progress report is garbage! It has been almost a year and their report still does not make much sense.”
“Can you see the pattern? They were just multiplying all commodity quantities, reporting progress using a common factor! It is a piece of crap! It is completely useless!”

Frank has heard this kind of talk many times in his life as a professional scheduler and he guessed it right what comes next. The PC Manager, Mike Itright, called him into his office. He looks serious and sullen.

“Frank, as you probably know, we have ongoing issues with the contractor’s construction schedule. It is not reliable.”
“We need to develop a more reliable schedule we could throw our hats into,” Mike opening the conversation.

“How about the current and baseline schedules that the contractor is working on? Would not we create a contention point that could end up in dispute? Maybe, even litigation if we are not careful?” Frank opined.

“Don’t worry. We will not let them know that we have such a schedule. This is our own secret tool to validate the schedule forecast they submit to us. We will catch them if they are actually making a fool of us.”

“We will not share our scheduling information to anyone of them. We have to be on top of this. We have to stop this contractor from playing around. We know what is going on. I need you to start on this right away!” Mike continues.

Project Management Jargon

Before we proceed further, let us discuss some special words and expressions used in the planning and scheduling profession. These terminologies are not new to the practitioners but can be difficult to understand by beginners.

A phantom schedule (ghost schedule) is a non-official schedule prepared behind the official scheduling scene. Commonly used as an audit tool to validate or crosscheck the contract schedule.

I got used referring to the schedule as phantom schedule instead of ghost because of a British friend of mine. While working in an oil installation in Africa, we got involved with one and he kept referring to it as phantom schedule.

To his credit, the literal definition of the word phantom fits perfectly which is – “an illustration, part of which is given a transparent effect so as to permit representation of details otherwise hidden from view (, 2016.Phantom).” This type of schedule has received multiple names in the construction industry through the years.

In this article, we will use the term phantom schedule interchangeably with ghost schedule, validation schedule, crosscheck schedule, parallel schedule, audit schedule, and background schedule.

Click the hyperlink below to read the full article in PM Solution Pro website.

The Phantom Schedule

Related article:

What is the Purpose of a Phantom Schedule?

About the Author:

Rufran C. Frago is the Founder of PM Solution Pro, a Calgary consulting, product, and training services firm focusing on project and business management solutions. He is passionate providing advice, mentorship, education and training through consultation, collaboration, and what he uniquely calls, student-led training.

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