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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: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/Mag_Articles/AA022_The_Planning_Paradox.pdf

For more on Schedule Strategy, Planning, & Design, see: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-SCH-011.php

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Leonard Byrd
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Its not ones wishes, it's what makes the schedule relevant to the project team. If we jump from mass excavation to pouring footings and no one is monitoring the submittals or the other deliverables (submittals, fabribrication, inspections, test, ...) they don't have a clue to when or what  I can assure you that schedule has little value to the team other than being a stick to beat the team over the head when footings are not poured on time. At a minimum the submittal schedule should be intergral to the Project Schedule for key or long lead items. Skipping 36 steps and assuming someone else will catch it is a huge mistake.

We use the following rules for most activities:

- Activity must be executed by certain resource crew, 

- Activity must have volume of work in certain physical units

- Resource productivity must be the same on activity duration

- Material requirements do not change on activity duration

- Unit costs are the same on activity duration

The number of project activities is determined by these rules, not by our wishes, unless we use rolling wave approach in the project model.

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.