Improving Industry Cross-Pollination by Classification of Schedule Types

Improving Industry Cross-Pollination by Classification of Schedule Types” by Chris Carson, PSP, and Raf Dua

Abstract

One scheduler says resource leveling is vital to producing a reasonable schedule, another says no one uses resources, let alone leveling. Scheduling discussions get passionate yet often schedulers in different industries do not seem to speak the same language. Some industries are naturally far ahead of others in the use of specific scheduling components, such as resources, EVM, or Risk Management, and those leaders are often the source for innovation in the use of those components.

This paper will study how industries use scheduling, attempt to categorize industry scheduling by common needs and component solutions, and provide an understanding of the differences between industry schedule use that should allow for better communications and increase the opportunity to enable innovation from each industry to improve scheduling in all industries.

Introduction

Professional schedulers, those who use scheduling to enhance and improve project management actions, often lose themselves in their own world of planning and scheduling. They work with other schedulers who are in the same industry or even the same segment of the same industry, understand their unique needs and even develop lingo and buzz words that are specific to their segment. The use of scheduling is fairly standardized, although there is variation in competence and general use of schedules. Understanding how each segment of the scheduling world is different can help categorize types of schedules.

Often what seems to be innovative scheduling for one industry is a common practice in another industry. This observation shows the way to improve scheduling across all industries if the common practices in one industry that seem innovative in another industry could be shared with other industries that might be able to use those common practices if they only understood them. This is typical of the way that Earned Value Management (EVM) has been absorbed into commercial construction; at one time, EVM was strictly used in defense and other industries. Then contractors who performed both military defense and commercial construction used the techniques in military projects and soon realized that there were benefits from the use of EVM in the commercial construction field.

Currently, there is no scheduling –wide categorization of types of scheduling so there is no simple way for one industry to view new best practices and incorporate those into their routine scheduling tasks. In most cases industries do not even know what is being used in other industries with success. Without the knowledge of what is available and used professionally, industry schedulers will not have the opportunity or inclination to experiment with new techniques.

The Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering international (“AACEi”) publication, Total Cost Management Framework, A Process for Applying the Skills and Knowledge of Cost Engineering,[1] clearly encompasses all types of industries, yet does not categorize those type of industries requiring different types of scheduling practices.

The Total Cost Management Framework defines the “strategic assets” of an enterprise as “shorthand for any unique physical or intellectual property that is of long term or ongoing value to the enterprise” and notes that “the asset may be a building, an industrial plant, a software program, or a stage production.” Compiling a system of categorization of schedule types would help to allow the comparison of similar schedule types, and the more definition that can be applied to each type, the more likely that improvements that would be useful will be identified and incorporated.

As schedulers recognize that there are scheduling techniques being used successfully in other industries, there should be an increased demand for understanding the taxonomy of scheduling types. This is an area where the leading industry associations, like AACE International and the PMI Scheduling Community of Practice, should encourage studies and opportunities for cross-pollination between different industries and sectors of industries.

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