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The Planning Paradox - How much detail is too much?

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Patrick Weaver
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Traditional views tend to favour a management approach built on the assumption that more detail is better—and to a point, this is undoubtedly correct. Insufficient detail in a plan of any type is a sure way to fail.  But, there’s no right answer to this paradox, our latest article The Planning Paradox - How much detail is too much?offers some useful guidelines to consider:

For more on Schedule Strategy, Planning, & Design, see:


Leonard Byrd
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Partick - I'm in the group of "There is never too much detail" however, I recognize that scheduling software is not the place for such detail. I discovered early on that when the number of activities reached into the thousands you were limiting communications and hampering on going maintenance - management. To overcome this problem I would dump my Primavera schedule into two excel spread sheets one a duplicate of the schedule so that my staff could update the activities on line weekly and the scheduler could get those updates on Monday morning and status the Project Schedule without leaving his/her desk. The second spread sheet we addrd the delail to show each and every step to get to key start points within the schedule. Say I wanted to push the start of foundations I would do a fragnet on the steps to achieve placing the first footing and pier on the project and add three dozen steps. Items such as subcontract award, product data submittals, concrete design submittals and test reports verifying said design, testing lab sub soil inspections, engineering review durations, rebar shop drawing production, rebar fabrication .... until I had backed each and every step required by specification, code and contract document covered in the second excel spread sheet then I would generate weekly list targeting each and every subcontractor and call them my weekly critical items (CI) list to be discussed in our weekly progress meetings. I could simply filter that spread sheet by responsibility for the upcoming week for discussion on Tuesday. I discovered that I could actually manage the schedule in a proactive manner by compelling the subs to take action on the Critical Items and once we got to the schedule activity in the field - footings had actually started weeks earlier and those old excuses of the engineer not approving the submittal or the fabricator had not completed fabrication had disapeared weeks earlier. So yes more deail but use excel where you can disguise schedule compliance and actually infuse dynamics into the schedule to make it proactive rather than reactive and actually push progress rather than just historic documentation.