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Scheduling Creditability

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Leonard Byrd
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I am a senior Program - Project Manager (EPC) with 60+ years of experience on very large and complex projects. My experience shows that there is a misunderstanding in what a schedule is - and how to utilize one effectivelly. I want to quiz the scheduling community on what is wrong with scheduling and how to improve it. I will disclose I'm thinking of writing a book on Project Management on how to achieve success without a new achronym or completely upsetting the apple cart. Let me know your thoughts.

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Peter Holroyd
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Leonard,

classic Bechtel - Plan the Work and Work the Plan. 

There are so few books on real project experience as opposed to academic, BoK, Standards, PMI, APM publications that you must write your book. 

I never intended to publish mine so copyright etc didn't come into it. If you want a copy of my book email address is peterholroyd207@aol.com

Keep me in the loop

Peter

Leonard Byrd
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Peter thanks for the encourgement . During my 30 years + with Bechtel, I completed no fewer than 5 Mega Projects as PM and all were highly successful and the only reason why - I made the schedule a dynamic proactive tool that actually drove the project on a daily basis rather than being a 50lb paperweight leaning against the wall in the corner waiting for the next monthly update and the follow on blood letting and finger pointing accusation meeting. I recognized the interest and communications problems where the only people utilizing the document was the legal group and it was simply a historical data bank waiting to be "Exhibit A". 

I dumped my P3 into an excel spreadsheet, added all the key deliverables between the listed activities identified one to  two dozen key start activities from the schedule to tie the new deliverables to - did a backwards pass to allow for submittals, review time and long lead and fabrication so that I knew given reasonable durations exactly when the rebar submittal should be on the engineers desk for review and approval. I then tied the spread sheet in to the rundate of my computer and sent out Critical Items List to each Project Team Member alerting them of what was needed and when to compliment the schedule - from Owner's decisions, to engineers reviews to contractor submittals as well as meetings, inspections , test reports .... On Friday each week I would ask the Project Team to update that weeks CI list so that on Monday the new one could be issued. No one ever realized I was feeding them the enhanced schedule in weekly bites and since I was tracking each deliverables based on their schedules each day late was one day of delay they were responsible for so delay mitigation and schedule acceleration were automatic. 

It was amazing how smoothly things went when no one had to blame anyone for missed dates and someone was providing the 5Ws to everyone.

Peter Holroyd
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Leonard,

go for it. Did the same and wrote a "book" on planning for my own sanity. No intent to publish so I could say what I wanted and choose any topic of interest within planning. 

Peter

Rafael Davila
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Most employees in the United States work "at will." This means that you can fire them at any time, for any reason, unless that reason is illegal. State and federal laws prohibit employers from relying on certain justifications for firing employees, such as discrimination or retaliation.

At home we enforce accountability at all levels:
- The contractor is responsible to deliver on time,
- The PM is responsible to plan the job and then beat the schedule, if not capable to manage the job but instead he is managed by his staff he is fired.

A good project manager beat the datelines and keeps control of his staff, a good project manager if need be fires those in the staff that cannot deliver. A good project manager as a leader is admired and respected, people follow his lead. Hiring and firing is usually part of their job description. In addition, they are not required to tell you why you were fired.
 

Leonard Byrd
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I understand the the problems with determining appropriate resources, leveling, funding, contractor interest ... on today's construction schedules but what can we do as a scheduler - PM to proactively manage the schedule rather than update monthly to document slippage - a reactive approach. Remember you and several of the smartest people on your project got together and created this plan to construct the facility - how do you compel the staff in the field to perform accordingly with the schedule.

I see this as one of the biggest problems in scheduling:

  1. After preparing probably the best overall plan to complete the scope - it sets in a corner to be updated monthly with minimal effort to utilize in actually building other than blaming.
  2. How does one communicate the three dozen specific steps or deliverables and when they should happen to allow the schedule activity to begin on time. Say your activity is - "Start Site Utilities" This activity could span four to five months from the Project NTP to actually having the Storm Water Structures on site with an excavator ready to install? Who should tell who when its time to:
    1. Award the Site Package (1 Week)
    2. Request the Storm Water Structures Submittals (2 Weeks)
    3. Review the Structures Shop Drawings (2 Weeks)
    4. Start the Storm Water Structures Fabrication ( 8 Weeks)
    5. Deliver to site (1 week)

If we just submit the schedule and do nothing to validate it, or make sure the steps between the activities are being completed and not notifying the responsible parties of their daily or weekly obligations  - then yes we will fail because the only use for the schedule would be historical documentation rather than proactive plan.

Leonard Byrd
User offline. Last seen 1 week 2 days ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Feb 2017
Posts: 13
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I understand the the problems with determining appropriate resources, leveling, funding, contractor interest ... on today's construction schedules but what can we do as a scheduler - PM to proactively manage the schedule rather than update monthly to document slippage - a reactive approach. Remember you and several of the smartest people on your project got together and created this plan to construct the facility - how do you compel the staff in the field to perform accordingly with the schedule.

I see this as one of the biggest problems in scheduling:

  1. After preparing probably the best overall plan to complete the scope - it sets in a corner to be updated monthly with minimal effort to utilize in actually building other than blaming.
  2. How does one communicate the three dozen specific steps or deliverables and when they should happen to allow the schedule activity to begin on time. Say your activity is - "Start Site Utilities" This activity could span four to five months from the Project NTP to actually having the Storm Water Structures on site with an excavator ready to install? Who should tell who when its time to:
    1. Award the Site Package (1 Week)
    2. Request the Storm Water Structures Submittals (2 Weeks)
    3. Review the Structures Shop Drawings (2 Weeks)
    4. Start the Storm Water Structures Fabrication ( 8 Weeks)
    5. Deliver to site (1 week)

If we just submit the schedule and do nothing to validate it, or make sure the steps between the activities are being completed and not notifying the responsible parties of their daily or weekly obligations  - then yes we will fail because the only use for the schedule would be historical documentation rather than proactive plan.

Rafael Davila
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Not long after basic/rudimentary CPM software was developed resource leveling was added, the term "Path" stuck with it even when it breaks under resource leveling. When the resource leveling algorithm was added the concept of a "Critical Path" broke. As if not enough the sequencing in the forward resource leveled schedule and backward resource leveled schedule can change. How can you still call it CPM?

Float is of more value as it can provide useful information to the resource leveling algorithm. Float can be calculated from the difference between forward and backward resource leveled schedules no matter if the forward and backward sequence varies.

Take a look at the following schedule, so simple there is just one consumable/materials resource to be leveled and no single logic link. If there is something as a single path that drives the forward and backward schedule calculations can you disclose it?


Path

Leonard Byrd
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Patrick I agree that virtually nothing has changed in CPM Scheduling since the early 60's. I obtained my first P3 software in 1985 and am still using P6e today and nothing on my end has changed other than when I participate in developing a Project Schedule, I feel I have a little more experience on durations, sequencing and resources - so hopefully I'm keeping the software from being too dumb.

We must understand that the schedule is just one's best guess on how the project will be built and if we have experienced participants including an experienced scheduler we will probably have the best guess available at the time. Of course once we make that guess - you have little control over how they build it once it gets down to the field crew level. 

I think where we fail is at the post schedule presentation where we issue the schedule and then let it die a slow death of monthly updates with no effort to save it.  Over my career of both accepting, validating and managing both internal and Contractor developed schedules, I found the most benificial efforts in:

1 - Validating the schedule

2 - Tracking and compelling the Project Team Members to complete the unscheduled deliverables (Submittals, awards, fabrication, reviews...) that preceed the schedule activities so that when the activity is due to happen - there is no excuse for why it doesn't. You know "the engineer has'nt approved the material", "The manufacturer is late", The anchor bolts weren't supplied"...

3 - and making sure the schedule provides optimum work space as early as possible and continues to open space for staff.

Patrick,

CPM and resource scheduling is not the same.

Resource constrained scheduling will sequence activities based on resource constraints and user defined priorities even if they are not dependent on each other. Created schedules are very flexible - the sequence will change with changing priorities and resource availability.

Patrick Weaver
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The fundamental issue with scheduling is the CPM processes were defined by the early 1960s and have not changed since.  A lot has happened in the last 60 years. 

CPM assumes (one the schedule is developed and analyzed) there is only one way to divide the work into activities and this does not change, and the sequence has to be followed. Resources can only be used to restraine work (lack of availability in resourec levelling). Based on this paradigm, contracts and contract law has developed to lock in this set of assumptions. The problem is none of these assumptions are correct:

The fact one way of dividing the work into activities was chosen at the planning phase does not mean this is the way the work crews will tackle the job. The fact you chose to sequence the work in one way does not always mean the work has to be done in that sequence - some types of prject (eg, wind farms) subject to some logical constraintes, you can build in almost any sequence., etc........ 

The focus in managing project is optimizing the work of the resources, not following an arbitary sequence of 'activities', there are developments in this space but they are generally ignored. People prefer the inadequate paradigms fromt he 1960s over better options of today: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-SCH-013.php#Process5