Scheduling Good Practice

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Location:  PMKI > Project Controls and Scheduling > Scheduling Good Practice
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This subject focuses on core scheduling practice and looks at what makes a good CPM schedule, what makes a good planner, and what should they do; the ‘good practices’ needed to create and manage an effective schedule..

Topics included in Scheduling Good Practice:

- Mosaic’s Core Scheduling Papers
- Planners and Schedulers, competency & training
- Schedule Management - Overview
    -  Schedule Challenges & Issues
    -  Industry Focuses
- Schedule Strategy & Design
    -  Complexity
- Schedule Development & Analysis
    -  Building a CPM Schedule
    -  CPM Calculations, Float & the Critical Path
- Resources & Costs
- Authorizing & Maintaining the Schedule
    -  Statusing & Updating
- Reporting & Communication
- Useful External Web-links & Resources.

Other related sections of the PMKI:

- PMBOK Schedule Management


Mosaic’s Core Scheduling Papers

These seven papers form the foundation for our PMI-SP training courses and for our scheduling workshops.

DP: A Guide to Scheduling Good Practice describes the work undertaken by a scheduler to create an effective 'dynamic schedule' and is consistent with the PMBOK® Guide and the PMI Practice Standard for Scheduling. Open the paper.

DP: Attributes of a Scheduler considers the personal skills and competencies needed by a person to be an effective scheduler and describes the various 'roles' a scheduler will have during the life cycle of a typical project including the difference between planning and scheduling and the scheduling value proposition. Open the paper.

DP: Dynamic Scheduling describes the benefits derived from developing a good schedule as defined in a A Guide to Scheduling Good Practice. Open the paper.

DP: Links, Lags & Ladders focuses on the issues, problems and challenges of overlapping tasks in a schedule using various link types (F-S, S-S, F-F-, S-F) with or without lead and lag durations, the more sophisticated 'ladder' concept, and the importance of actively managing the 'space' between tasks. Open the paper.

DP: Schedule Float discusses the various calculations and definitions for float in both ADM and PDM networks. Open the paper.

DP: Schedule Levels provides a guide the 5 levels of schedule typically used on major projects from the 'Master Schedule' to the 'Detailed Short Term Schedule', adapted from Bechtel & Fluor standards. Open the paper.

DP: Schedule Calculations a guide the Time Analysis and Float calculations used in PDM schedules. Open the paper.

    

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Planners and Schedulers, competency & training

DP: The Roles and Attributes of a Scheduler considers the personal skills and competencies needed by a person to be an effective scheduler and describes the various 'roles' a scheduler will have during the life cycle of a typical project including the difference between planning and scheduling and the scheduling value proposition. Open the paper.

Prs: Should your schedulers be certified?  This paper focuses on initiatives to revitalize our industry by creating a career path for planners and schedulers as well as clearly identifying the benefits of certification for organizations that employ planners and schedulers. New initiatives by Planning Planet are designed to deliver a career framework for professional ‘Time Managers’, taking people from novice, to a practitioner skilled in the art of planning and scheduling. Download the presentation.
See also: The problem with CPM.

Training

Earned Value Training

PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)®, Mentored Email™ Course. This self-paced, distance learning course, is designed specifically for project management professionals working in the specialized area of project scheduling who are preparing to take the PMI-SP credential exam. Mosaic's Mentored Email™ training delivery is a self-paced, distance training option, ideally suited to people whose preferred learning style is built around guided self-study using a combination of linguistic and logical learning. All of our trainees have access to Mosaic's unparalleled expertise and knowledge, combined with practical instruction on the processes, tools, and techniques needed to ensure success in the PMI-SP examination: view course details.

Developing an Effective CPM Schedule. These intensive workshops lay out the basis for an effective planning and scheduling practice. This course is consistent with the Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects, the PMI Practice Standard for Scheduling and the PMBOK® Guide. The workshops focus on the importance of implementing effective schedule planing and control techniques in a structured way that directly involves the project stakeholders. They are designed for people who already know how to use a scheduling tool and wish to move their practice to a more advanced level focused on achieving positive outcomes: view course details.

     

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Schedule Management - Overview

In this section, click down to:
    -  Schedule Challenges & Issues
    -  Industry Focuses

   

Prs: (The) Effective Management of Time in the 21st century. This paper overviews a range of ideas to assist in the effective management of time including:
- The need for effective planning ahead of scheduling and the different objective of these two processes.
- The concept of ‘schedule density’ and the need to schedule at an appropriate level of detail based on the contemporary knowledge available to the project team.
- The need for on-going dynamic scheduling to manage time.
- The need to contemporaneously assess the impact of delaying events in real time based on accurate and current schedules to allow effective mitigation.
- The need for effective training and credentialing of planners and schedulers. Download the presentation.

The need for good scheduling practice: The disastrous state of schedule practice in the construction industry is detailed in the report Managing the Risk of Delayed Completion in the 21st Century [or download the smaller executive summary]. Between December 2007 and January 2008, The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) conducted a survey of the construction industry’s knowledge and experience of different methods of project control, and time management, record keeping, monitoring and training. Their findings suggested there was a lot of work needed to achieve general 'best practice', unfortunately observation of general industry suggests the need is still as great today.

Time IS NOT Money. “Time is not money; with money you can put it on the table and you can see it, and if you leave it, it may even accumulate - whereas with time, you can’t see it or touch it. It expires at a regular and consistent rate whether you use it or not.” - Read the interview Time is NOT money', a conversation with Keith Pickavance for some background on Keith's assertion the 21st Century will be 'The Age of Time'. 

PP: Improving Schedule Management. This paper describes the changing role of scheduling within the complex dynamic environment of modern projects and programs. PMI’s contributions including the SEI, standards and credentials are identified. The attributes needed for an effective schedule and the skills needed by an effective scheduler are described and linked to the emerging paradigms of complexity theory. Download the paper.

Prs: Time management -v- Contract administration. This paper defines the standards by which project schedules should be prepared, quality controlled, updated, reviewed and revised in practice to effectively manage time. And then describes the standards of performance which should reasonably be required of a project scheduler. Download the presentation.

Prs: Project management vs Project scheduling. This presentation focuses on the differences between successful schedulers and successful project managers and how together they can create successful project outcomes. Download the presentation

Blg: Project Planning. The ‘Introduction to Project Planning’ published by Association for Project Management (UK) is a high level overview of all of the planning processes needed for a successful project outcome including scope, risk, cost, schedule, quality, procurement, resources and earned value. 

   


Schedule Challenges and Issues

Prs: Avoiding the 'Tipping Point to Failure'. A performing organization can manage a level of complexity in its projects based on prior experience, maturity, supporting systems and the capability of the people managing the work. As long as this ‘complexity quotient’ is within the management capability of the organization and the people it deploys, reasonably predictable outcomes can be expected and normal risk management practices are likely to be effective. Change any of these parameters to the point where the overall tipping point is reached and there is a sudden breakdown that causes a significant negative change in the likely project outcomes. Recovery is no longer a simple process of marginally increasing the resources deployed, what’s needed is a massive change in the capability of resources. Whilst it is impossible to predict where a tipping point may occur until after it has been reached, effective project control systems can provide early warnings. Download the presentation.

PP: Why Critical Path Scheduling (CPM) is Wildly Optimistic. CPM tends towards an optimistic representation of the project’s completion date. Used appropriately, this can be a performance motivator. However, prudent management also requires an accurate prediction of the completion date. This paper will describe how both processes can be used in combination for the effective management of time. Download the paper

Blg: The Last Planner and other Old Ideas. the Last Planner® this methodology has at its root, the idea that the best people to involve in the planning process are the front line supervisors and team leaders who will actually have to do the work. This is a really great idea! 

Technical Debt

Art: The Insidious Effect of Technical Debt - The concept of technical debt refers to the costs of having to go back and resolve problems that arise because an earlier decision was made to take an easy option, instead of the best one.

Prs: Who's Cross about Crossrail? The insidious effect of Technical Debt - A review of the £2billion cost blow out and 2 year delay in the London Crossrail project, potentially caused by a combination of technical debt and poor governance.

See also: CPM Issues and Challenges

   


Industry Focuses

PP: (The) Effective Management of Time on Mega Projects. Why there are so many problems and how to solve them? - The construction industry’s ability to effectively manage time is getting worse. In response to this challenge, the CIOB assembled an international team of project planning and scheduling experts to develop a Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects (the Guide). This paper will identify the key elements within the Guide that proactively contribute to the successful delivery of mega projects, relate these ideas to practical examples of their use on mega-projects and offer a way forward to improve time management. Download the paper

Prs: CIOB’s Contribution to the Effective Management of Time in Construction Projects. The CIOB Time Management approach is focused on making the most efficient use of the resources available to the project to optimize time outcomes which should flow through to affect/improve cost outcomes. Download the presentation.

Prs: (The) Effective Management of Time in Complex Projects - an ICT perspective. The IT industry’s inability to effectively manage time has been widely documented, other industries fare no better! In response to this challenge, the CIOB assembled an international team of project planning and scheduling experts to develop a Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects (the Guide). This paper will identify the key elements within the Guide that proactively contribute to the successful delivery of complex projects and offer a way forward to improve time management. Download the presentation

PP: Scheduling in a Defence Environment. The primary purpose of any schedule should be to help the project manager and project team optimize the overall strategy for the delivery of the project, coordinate work flows and assist in the decision making processes needed to resolve dilemmas and issues on a day-to-day basis. This paper identifies some of the symptoms of scheduling failure and then addresses three topics; a discussion of the real purpose and usefulness of scheduling. the current ‘state of play’ in the development of scheduling and some emerging trends that may re-focus scheduling. Download the paper.

   

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Schedule Strategy & Design

In this section, click down to:
     -  Complexity

   

WP: Project Planning -v- Scheduling. Planning is focused on optimising the sequencing of the work and the methods to be used as a precursor to scheduling which focuses on how the method will be implemented.

Prs: Establish the project schedule. The steps needed to develop and validate an effective project schedule. Download the presentation.

Art: Scheduling For Effect. Three simple things anyone can do to make their project schedules more effective. 

DP: Schedule Levels provides a guide the 5 levels of schedule typically used on major projects from the 'Master Schedule' to the 'Detailed Short Term Schedule', adapted from Bechtel & Fluor standards. Open the paper.

    


Complexity

PP: Scheduling Complexity. This paper précis the work of the CIOB focused on the management of complex projects and offer practical suggestions for the improvement of time management within the Australian context, including the professionalization of the scheduling discipline.  Download the paper.

PP: Scheduling in the Age of Complexity. This paper suggests that a radically different approach is needed to make scheduling relevant and useful in the 21st Century. Starting with the ideas derived from Complexity Theory, Complex Responsive Processes of Relating (CRPR) and the concept of the project team as a ‘Temporary Knowledge Organization (TKO) one can see the delivery of the project being crafted by thousands of individual decisions and actions taken by people who are ‘actors’ within the social network of the project team and its immediate surrounds. The role of ‘project management’ is to motivate, coordinate and lead the team towards the common objective of a successful project outcome. The project scheduler has a key role in this complex environment provided the right attitudes, skills and scheduling techniques are used in the optimum way. Download the paper.

Prs: Avoiding the 'Tipping Point to Failure. The tipping point marks the boundary between linear changes and catastrophic change, the situation flips from predictable to unmanageable within the current context. Download the presentation

Art: Controlling Complex Projects. Applying the principle of auftragstaktik (or ‘bounded initiative’) to effectively manage complex projects.

     

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Schedule Development & Analysis

In this section, click down to:
    -  Building a CPM Schedule
    -  CPM Calculations, Float & the Critical Path

    

The development of CPM in the 1950s was limited by the limited processing power of the computers then available. These limitations can have significant impacts on the CPM modelling process we still use today. Given these constraints, designing a schedule for a complex project is an art, the project needs to be 'planned' before an effective schedule can be developed; WP1039 focuses on planning.

DP: A Guide to Scheduling Good Practice describes the work undertaken by a scheduler to create an effective 'dynamic schedule' and is consistent with the PMBOK® Guide and the PMI Practice Standard for SchedulingOpen the paper.

   


Building a CPM Schedule

DP: Dynamic Scheduling describes the benefits derived from developing a 'good schedule' as defined in a 'A Guide to Scheduling Good Practice'. Open the paper

WP: Rolling Wave Planning. Rolling wave is a form of progressive elaboration, increasing the detail in a schedule as more information becomes available.

WP: Schedule Density. The concept of schedule density is similar to rolling wave planning but applies a time based three stage approach to developing an overall summary, 12 month intermediate, and 3 month detailed schedule. 

DP: Links, Lags & Ladders focuses on the issues, problems and challenges of overlapping tasks in a schedule using various link types (F-S, S-S, F-F-, S-F) with or without lead and lag durations, the more sophisticated 'ladder' concept, and the importance of actively managing the 'space' between tasks. Open the paper

Art: Hammocks, LOE and Summary Activities in Schedules. Hammocks, LOE and Summary Activities are three completely different types of activity – the differences are defined.

WP: Duration Estimating. The challenge of assigning an accurate duration to a task. This paper describes the processes involved in duration estimating. The important effect of cognitive biases on the way estimates are developed is discussed in WP1069.

PP: (The) Cost of Time - or who's duration is it anyway?  Probably the most common action undertaken by schedulers everywhere is assigning a duration to a task. This paper outlines the factors influencing the choice of an optimum duration. Considers the factors that can cause the duration to be modified during the planning phase and then outlines some of the likely costs associated with accelerating the project. Download the paper.

Prs: Estimating Fallacies - excessive detail does not help. Estimating costs and durations can be done in great detail, however, detailed is not synonymous with accurate! This paper sets out a pragmatic framework for estimating that offers realistic levels of accuracy to generate sensible expectations for a reasonable investment of estimating effort. Download the presentation.

WP: Schedule Compression. This WP focuses on the techniques and risks associated with schedule compression, including 'fast-tracking' and 'crashing'.

    


CPM Calculations, Float & the Critical Path

Calculations & the Critical Path

DP: Schedule Calculations a guide the Time Analysis and Float calculations used in PDM schedules. Open the paper.

Blg: Schedule Calculations – Old and New. The difference between old manual calculations starting from Zero, and the correct calculations used by modern computers.

WP: Defining the Critical Path. There are many different descriptions in regular use, this WP provides a concise and accurate definition.

Blg : Critical confusion – when activities on the critical path don’t compute…… The use of Finish-to-Finish and Start-to-Start links (particularly in combination) can cause significant issues in calculating the overall project duration.

      

Float

FloatThe concept of schedule float is the creation of the Critical Path Method (CPM) of scheduling in the late 1950s. In the 60s and 70s significant advances ion the concept of float occurred as the ADM scheduling methodology developed. Much of this sophistication has been lost in the intervening 50 years as the PDM methodology gained precedence. How significant is this loss of insight? From a practical perspective there are two issues of paramount importance: Resources levelling and smoothing is completely reliant on having access to accurate and understandable float values. The absence of these means the scheduling algorithms are likely to be less efficient. Contract management relies on clearly defining critical and non-critical activities and knowing how much flexibility (float) is reasonably available on the non-critical activities. This paper argues that the lack of defined calculations for most of the float values in a PDM schedule must reduce the overall value of the schedule model compared to more rigorous approaches. But also recognizes that if scheduling is a modelling process designed to affect the future behaviours of people working on the project (ie, persuade them to work to the plan), other factors may be more important.

DP: Schedule Float discusses the various calculations and definitions for float in both ADM and PDM networks. Open the paper.

Art: Calculating and Using Float. Based on the above, this review looks at the different types of float and slack that used to be calculated in ADM and PDM schedules, compared to the limited options used today (see the original PM World Today article).

PP: Float - Is It Real? The existence of a ‘critical path’ and non-critical activities (with their associated ‘float’) grew out of the science of ‘scheduling’ as defined by Critical Path Analysis (CPA) and are barely 50 years old! This paper analyses the factors creating the ‘critical path’ and ‘float’ within a schedule and then look at ways of resolving the conflicting views of float encountered in the literature. Potential solutions include the UK ‘Delay and Disruption Protocol’, client led integrated teams and the use of alternative planning methods such as location based scheduling, trend analysis and earned schedule. Download the paper.

       

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Resources & Costs

Project cost management has two distinct aspects, both of which are important but both of which have a very different focus:
- Cost Management is the process of planning and controlling the budget of a project, see more.
- Earned Value Management, which links cost and schedule performance, see more

Prs: Resource optimisation - a new paradigm for project scheduling. An effective resource optimization approach would involve changing the underlying philosophical approach embedded in CPM from a belief that the predetermined duration and sequencing of activities takes precedence, to one that recognizes the real objective of scheduling is to keep the resources working effectively. This paper looks at two alternative approaches to achieving this objective. Download the presentation.

Art: Resource Optimization. The best schedule outcome is achieved by maximizing the use of the available resources, but most scheduling tools fail to achieve this.

    

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Authorizing & Maintaining the Schedule

In this section, click down to:
    -  Statusing & Updating 

     

Art: Assurance for high risk projects. High-risk, high reward projects that have the potential to transform an organization require a robust, independent assurance function!

Managing delays and disruptions to a schedule are discussed in Assessing Delay and Disruption - Tribunals Beware, and Delay, Disruption and Acceleration Costs  the specific issue of assessing parallel delays in WP1064 - Concurrent Delays. For more on delay and disruption claims see: Forensic time analysis and reporting

     


Statusing & Updating

PP: Managing for Success - The power of regular updates. Critical path scheduling techniques, supported by efficient scheduling software have long been recognized as a standard component in the overall project management process. This paper looks at the interaction between the analytical and psychological processes involved in schedule development and control systems to identify ways to deliver major enhancements in the planning / scheduling process. Download the paper

WP: Schedule Compression. This WP focuses on the techniques and risks associated with schedule compression, including 'fast-tracking' and 'crashing'.

For papers on predicting project completion allowing for uncertainty, see Schedule Risk & Uncertainty.

     

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Reporting & Communication

PP: Beyond Reporting - The Communication Strategy. Communication is a science and an art. Communicating effectively with the project’s important stakeholders, so that their expectations can be both managed and met, is central to achieving a successful outcome. Reports are not enough! Communication is a complex two way process within the overall relationship between the project and the stakeholder. This paper identifies the key processes involved in developing and implementing an effective communication strategy. Download the paper.

Prs: Communication in organisations: making the schedule effective. There is no point working hard to develop a schedule that is not used! Once the schedule has been created or updated, it is its role as a communication medium that can have the most powerful influence on the successful delivery of a project and the skills outlined in this presentation become critical to realizing the value embedded in the scheduling tool. Download the presentation.

Prs: Seeing the Road Ahead - the challenge of communicating schedule data. The successful delivery of projects requires a broad understanding of what is required to be achieved, by whom and when. However, one of the key challenges facing schedulers has been to convert the rich data contained in their schedules into useful information that the project team can actually use. This paper outlines the evolution of the graphical presentation of time related data from 1765 through to the current time.Download the presentation.

PP: Understanding the Schedule - The challenge of informed consent. “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” [George Bernard Shaw] presenting a schedule does not mean the recipient has understood the information! Download the paper, or download the presentation.

PP: Communications Control? Schedules cannot control anything - they are inert sources of information! These papers look at the challenge communicating the information to influence decisions and behaviour. Download the paper, or download the presentation.

Blg: Mind your language. A picture may tell a 1000 words, but it need to be a well designed picture if the message is to be meaningful.

Art: What’s the message?? The way schedule reports are designed can change the understanding of key stakeholders.

   

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Useful External Web-links & Resource

Access the Guild of Project Controls Body of Knowledge. A suite of process-based documents which define Project Controls (membership required): http://www.planningplanet.com/guild/GPCCAR-modules

 

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Self-paced PMI-SP Training

Communication management template


Self-paced PMI-SP Training

Communication management template


Self-paced EVM Training

Stakeholder management tools


Self-paced PMI-SP Training

Risk management template


Self-paced PMI-SP Training

Stakeholder management tools


Self-paced EVM Training

Risk management template


Self-paced PMI-SP Training

Stakeholder management tools