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Activity sequencing & duration estimates

26 replies [Last post]
Sharyar Sanandaji
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Hi Sometimes my project managers in my company want me to prepare an schedule,they want me to put all requirements by myself. For example they think that I should know all necessary relationships for activities and durations. Please tell me,is it responsibility of scheduler or executing team to transfer these data to scheduler or scheduling team. Regards Sharyar



you wrote that It is not good PP etiquette to liven up long dead topics.


It is interesting to look at new solutions of old problems. The software is developing and may suggest solutions that did not exist earlier, new methodologies may be applied, etc.

I think that it is interesting to compare what people think now and what people thought earlier, what solutions are suggested now in comparison with earlier proposals.

Best Regards,


Mike Testro
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Hi Ian

Welcome to Planning Planet.

Congratulations! You now hold the record in responding to long dead topics. 11 years old.

It is not good PP etiquette to liven up long dead topics.

Best regards

Mike Testro - Moderator

Ian Bowman
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An interesting topic, my view is that its not good practice for any planner/scheduler/planning engineer to work alone, just as you wouldn't want the QS to produce the price in isolation or you wouldn't let design calcs or drawings go unchecked.

Its always best to keep a good record of where programme information has come from eg a big folder of emails, marked up programmes and contract dates (i.e subcontractual completions, client mandates etc). These records cover you as a planner should things go wrong and are essential for commercial claims and lessons learned.

At the end of the day, the more realistic and accurate the programme you start with, the less work there is for us with reschedules and changes (always good!) and the more stability the project will have.

Alex Wong
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Dear All

I think in this situation, a Top down approach is most appropriate. Firstly, engineers dont understand the important of a schedule, they dont understand the concept of relationship, sequencing, or duration estimates. Once you have a top level schedule and telling them they will only have 2 week to come up with a final design. Then they will screaming for more time. It is then an opporturnity to ask for why... What is it involved in the design. Then they will explain ....

By going though this excise the plan will become their project plan. Yes scheduler/planner do have the initial task of understand the scope of work in accordance with the contract plus all the critical dates stated in contract. Once all these dates are ploted and the high level schedule is give to the individual team players. The will come back with their inputs very quickly (Usually) if that still doesnt work then you should have a team meeting to discuss their duration of finish their part of the works. That will usually create some thought after that meeting

Good Luck

Harold, what PM software package do you use? This approach is supported by Spider Project but I don’t know other software that works with quantities as initial activity information.
Harold Martin
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You should put the quantity for each activity in your program. Duration then can be computed from the production rate and the number of crew you use. The more the crew the less the duration you will get that’s fundamental.
As per activity sequencing that goes through experience.
Rahul Mulik
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Dear All,
Its a nice tread to participate. In my previous company we had excellant Planning Practice, there we, planning engineers, were responsible for preparation of method statements for all works in line with the BOQ weightages.
If u will execute this task for your schedule automatuically you will get all the links, dependancies and criticalities about your schedul.
I will appreciate your comments on this practices.

Cheers & Regards,
Rahul Shamrao Mulik
Suraj Bhatt
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Hi all!
I’ll list the process that we follow for preparation of a schedule:-
1. Read the scope of work .BOQ and the special condition of contract.
2. If it is a specialist work, consult someone with prior experience for the sequence of activities and probable duration.
3. Once the schedule is prepared, discuss it with the execution team.
4. After refinement, call in for a Schedule finalization meeting where we discuss the practicality of the schedule.
5. When everyone agrees to it, finalize it as a Baseline schedule.
6. During construction phase, if it’s decided to deviate from Baseline schedule, I incorporate it in my schedule and release it as new baseline.
I hope this helps,
Mike Harvey
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As a 'Planning Engineer' you are expected to have a clear understanding of the construction process and the interface between activities. As a 'Planning Engineer'you also have to be a good salesman. If the senior management do not assist and 'buy' into the project schedule you have a problem. Senior Management that wish to bury thier heads in the sand and suggest that it is your problem will never achieve the required results for the project and are acting irresponsibly on behalf of your organisation. My current assignment has received full cooperationn from all levels of management in achieving Design, Procurement & Project Solutions. This approach has achieved all the well worn phrases of Project Management i.e. Time, Cost & Quality. I suggest you give a copy of this email to those persons who think you have all the answers. Good Luck Mike Harvey
Clive Holloway
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Sequencing is all to do with activity overlaps. You might plan to start the curtain walling on a 40 storey high rise block when the frame construction has reached the 30th floor, however you could start curtain walling when the frame construction has reached the 15th floor. This overlap will affect the date for completion. In the event the curtain walling may start when the frame construction actually reached the 25th floor. Forget the detail look at milestone objectives.
Michael Jack
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Hi Sharyar It has been my experience that it depends what type of industry you are working in. When I have worked in Construction I have almost always been expected to try and suggest the most appropriate method of construction that should be used. This maybe as the companies that I have worked for marketed themselves as experts in the time management of the construction process. However when I have worked in other industries (ie IT, Telecomunications etc) I have always made sure that I have either the signoff of the PM or at the very least of the people doing the work
Daya Sugunasingha
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The detail drawings usually tell you the sequence. But if you do not have many detail construction drawings then it will rely on your own experience of the experience of others. Telephone the specialist contractor and get his advice. Calculating the durations is simple maths i.e If a man lays 50 bricks in one hour it would would take him 8 hours to lay 400 bricks. But if he had another bricklayer to help him them it would take half the time i.e. 4 hours Hope this helps Daya
Clive Holloway
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It is bread and butter work for a planner. Just use your experience. I would suggest that you are going into too much detail too soon. Work at a high level before doing any more detailed lower level planning. Talk to everyone, including designers, all sub-contractors, especially M & E, if on board ? Absract the quantities, look at the objectives, work out required production outputs, estimate the resource requirements, look at activity overlaps, identify the key elements, etc. It is easy ! I am willing to spend an hour after work (6pm) in my Wanchai office, for free, if you want to learn more, so drop me an e.mail.
Ernesto Puyana
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Do you mean to say that, for some people out there, planning and scheduling are one and the same? They sure differ. The former is a consequence of the latter and scheduling without planning is a bunch of meaningless graphics. Perhaps some people percieve scheduling as a mere requisite that has to be met, but not as a managing tool, so they don´t recongnize it's usefulness as a model or simulator of the strategies to acomplish the job (i.e.: planning). They manage a project as they would operate a bulldozer.
Forum Guest
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I don't agree. The Planner can set up the initial plan following a standard WBS, as per the particular methodology used by the company. This provides the basic activities and dependencies, as well as the resource roles per activity. It is the ESSENTIAL to involve the project stakeholders in the planning process to get buy-in and to establish realistic estimates. If the Planner attempts to do this on his own he will get no buy-in from the team or other stakeholders and he will take over the responsibility that should be borne by the Project Manager and the Project Sponsor.
Guy Hindley
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In my experience the planner at the outset does not know the sequencing/ durations of the tasks. The planner works with the engineers to firstly understand the logic and as a result can construct an integrated logic which co-ordinates all the elements of the project together. Buy in from all team members is essential. The greater the complexity of the project the more important is the co-ordination of the overall logic. This makes the planner the Chief Co-odinator of the Programme. Once the logic is agreed then durations are added, again taken from the team members responsible for their activities. The planner is responsible for balencing/ juggling the logic and durations to meet the overall Project requirements. However the programme belongs to the TEAM. This response is based on programmes that I have worked on which have a significant development task, before the final product can be delivered.
Amri Mansor
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That why,,,for some people out there,, planner and scheduler is two different things. The definition of this two, sometimes being ignored depends on the type of industry you are involve.
Doug Wardale
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Depends, I have 2 terms 1)Planning Engineer & 2)Programming Engineer, The Planner such be familiar with the construction techniques and have a practical working knowledge of the work and should be able to prepare and resource the programme. The Programmimg Engine should have a general knowledge but make require guidance either from a planning engineer and/or the person responsible for the work
Ali Vessali
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Dear Sharyar, You are right. If your project manager thinks so that’s because of his lack of experience in planning & scheduling. If we established a time schedule for a project, we expect that it at least help us to estimate the progress and delays as well as remaining durations, which we need for completion of remained activities. Be sure that without consideration of real relationships and sequences between activities and estimating of the minimum duration, which you need for implementation of each activity, you couldn’t be success in your job as a planner or scheduler. These information should be provided by a team included of project management, design engineers, executive engineers, planner & scheduler based on the contract conditions and criteria and the method of statements and available resources. Sincerely yours, Ali Vessali
Ali Hamouda
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Hi sir, can you pls explain in details what do u mean by this statment that you mention in your letter, "The best advice when producing a baseline programme is to create an audit trail - never guess and ask everyone !" Regards Ali
Daryl Walcroft
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I have worked on numerous major claims involving planning issues. Many of these claims are due to planners producing unreasonable baseline programmes which do not reflect the construction process. Clearly, a planner is not a miracle worker - all parties should be involved in the planning process. A planner is often between a rock and a hard place when it comes to establishing the best source of information - site operatives are often the best source but they are notoriously pessimistic, estimators and site managers are notoriously optimistic. The best advice when producing a baseline programme is to create an audit trail - never guess and ask everyone !
Humayun Akhtar
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What I do . I talk to the project team key persons individually and make a rough relationship. Bsed on my ubderstanding I prepared a schedule. Then this schedule is discussed by the project team and schedule become finalized.
Don Wyndham
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It is not your responsibility the executing team should forward that information, it would be unlikely and almost impossible for a scheduler to know all of this in a multi tasked project, you can use some reason and logic but to be precise you have to have input from someone who knows precisely how and when the tasks will fall into the schedule
Shamas Ibrahim
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I agree with john, a planner can only put the bases of a schedule together but at the end of the day it is the project team that has to make it work. The team has to take ownership of the plan. Its no uses you planning to do it one method and the team deciding to another way you will both be reporting different things. The planner and the rest of the project team must sing from the same hyme sheet!!!!!.
Ali Hamouda
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Dear, I was thinking as you think, Tell me who will do it for you. you have to learn how to link,with appropriate relations,and how to estimate the duration, your self. Study a standard Project and take it as a standard. and don,t ask the company people, because they brought you to help them, and them selve they don,t know good in Planning, and you have to guide them, and you have to till them Isn't It Ali
John Wilson
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As regard to the previous comment by Sharyar Sanandaji, my own experience is that the planner alone does not pull together the programme but must be a joint effort between the project manager and the project planner. This in my opinion is a way of getting the project manager to understand were the logic links go and gets him on board at an early stage of the programme, sharing ownership.