In a perfect world, when awarded a project, you’d be allotted a full week of gloating, “Hoo-hahs!” and chest bumps followed by a full 30 days to submit a preliminary 90 day baseline schedule and another 60 days to submit the complete construction schedule for the full project. Of course, you’d not only have the non-partisan support and participation of the Owner for feedback along the way, you’d also have all your subs identified and ready to go. They’d all come filing into the first weekly project meeting with a fully detailed Primavera project schedule, smiles and a box of donuts to share!
Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. In most instances, notification of the award signifies “Go time!” Immediately all parties involved begin the frenzy to get the ball rolling. It seems that everyone from the owner, to the Project Manager, to the subs (if even known) is frantically moving at warp speed to get the project off the ground. While the effort is admirable, it is not always effective. Everyone is working in their own silo and there is often not enough team collaboration from the beginning, especially as it relates to the project schedule.
Even if you have the luxury of 60 days to submit the final construction schedule for baseline approval, the real work on the schedule often begins far too late into that time frame. Everyone is not working together to plan the work accurately, to reflect the real world, intended progression of the project. The Owner will nit-pick about adherence to the schedule specs, the subs will complain that they don’t need a schedule because they have been doing this for years, and the Project Manager will want to strangle them all because he just wants to make things happen, get home in time for dinner at least once this month, and not get sued down the road!
It’s exactly at this time, at the inception of a project, that Critical Business Analysis, Inc. should be brought on board.
CBA is often utilized as a third party schedule consultant to not only develop the project schedule, but to act as an objective team participant to facilitate the collaboration process among all parties involved. We know scheduling and project management. We understand scheduling specs and best practices. We have no private agenda and our advice can be trusted.
Far too often, we are brought into a project only after major issues with the project schedule have been identified. Certainly we can help in these situations, but issues like these, and the meetings surrounding them, are adversarial, ugly and definitely confection deprived.
Whether you are the Owner or the General Contractor, save yourself the agony. Contact us at the beginning of your project to be a “second set of eyes” for the development of your project schedule and then use us as a reliable resource throughout the life of the project to be sure your scheduling effort is still on track. We all know that the project schedule can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. Bring us aboard and let us make the introduction to your new BFF…we’ll even bring the donuts!read more
As many times as I have conducted Primavera P6 training, I am always surprised by the under use of one of the basic P6 tools.
A Scheduler painstakingly builds a schedule to reflect reality and then after the project starts, neglects to take advantage of the opportunity to be proactive in managing negative float and variance trends. The tool is the P6 Baseline. Sure, most Schedulers create a baseline at the onset of a project and, if following best practices, assign it to the Project Baseline to make it globally available for all users to view. Assigning to the Project Baseline ensures that any P6 User comparing the “BL Columns and Gantt Bars” is viewing data from the original Baseline.
But how about Updated Baselines for trend analysis?
With all the focus on managing negative float within a schedule, the Finish Date variance trends sometimes get lost in the shuffle. It is extremely important to understand that, even when an activity has positive float, if the Finish Date Variance is trending in a negative path, the activity may soon have negative float. The ability to see the negative trend and adjustment the schedule accordingly can prevent the activity from ever having negative float.
Consider the following:
Utilizing data in the table below, at what point would you recognize that the Foundation activity had a negative float issue? CYCLE 5??
|Update #||Update Date||Activity||Float||BL1 Finish Date Variance|
If you were capturing updated baselines each cycle and monitoring the negative Finish Date Variance trends, it is likely that you noticed a potential problem on Cycle 3. Being the proactive person you are, you take action to mitigate the negative trend activity from ever getting into negative float territory.ly
So what is the suggested best practice?
- Capture a baseline each time you update the schedule and assign it to the Primary Baseline
- Use variance analysis layouts to monitor trends using Activity Table columns such as BL1 Finish Date and BL1 Project Finish Date Variance.
- Consider capturing past period Finish Date Variances in User Defined Fields to watch for trends occurring over multiple Update cycles.
- Design P6 Report Writer reports to use color coded conditionally formatted cells to highlight negative float/negative finish date trends as red and positive float/negative finish date trends as yellow.
- Take action on the scenario where positive float activities have multiple Update Cycles with negative Finish Date Variances.
For more than a couple of decades, CBA has been involved with client implementations of Primavera applications. One would think after so much interaction with many different organizations that we have seen it all. Well, we have seen a lot, but certainly not all! We have worked with very large companies that had only a few users in one department and have worked with one person consultants who build schedules for very complex large projects for many different clients. We have worked for small, medium and large firms that want to track every project regardless of size – and other organizations that only want to track projects of a certain size or larger. Some are focused on documents and contracts, others on schedule, cost and resource tracking, still others on portfolio selection – and various combinations of those.
What I find interesting is some clients seem to know exactly what they want to do, and more importantly, why they want to do it. They have a compelling story of what their current problems and pains are, and the circumstances that led them to realize the need for a portfolio project management or document management solution. Other clients are complying with the request of an important client or meeting a contractual obligation. No matter what the reason, CBA is interested in helping organizations achieve their project selection and execution goals.
Implementations can take on various shapes and sizes. Some are simple and quick; install, train, advise and go. Others are much more involved with process and procedure development, custom user guides, dozens of template projects, and integration to more than one corporate application for cost, maintenance management or HR, and on-going mentoring. Some focus on complex independent projects for individual end customers, others focus on cash flow of an entire capital portfolio and still others are document and work-flow dependent engagements.
Our job is to “right size” your implementation to meet the current needs of your organization now and allow for meeting future goals. In order to right size your implementation it is important for us to understand what your company wants to accomplish and why. We also need to understand the capabilities and project controls maturity of the team you are deploying the solution to. This helps us understand the urgency and priorities, which in turn allows us to help focus the team on “why we came to drain the swamp”. Knowing the underlying reasons of why a team wants to do something is sometimes more important than knowing the industry or the details of how projects are accomplished in a specific organization.
We believe the success of an implementation is defined as putting a solution in place that accomplishes the objectives as identified by the organization within the desired (realistic) time frame and is adopted by the user community. Additionally the solution should remain in place and mature over time. We have accomplished this result most often when all of the following occurred:
- We were able to match the complexity of the solution with the skill sets of the team tasked with putting it in place
- There was a client organization responsible for the design and on-going execution of the solution
- Users were mentored until they have a firm grasp on the process
- Management of the client organization utilized the information gained from the team in a manner that showed they used it to make business decisions
Sometimes, this means phasing in deployment of all desired requirements over a period of time, initially incorporating the most critical subset of them based on what we mutually agree can be accomplished and carried out by the user community. For example, an organization may ultimately want to have fully resource and cost loaded schedules with Earned Value metric reporting on all projects over $5MM. What may be realistic is to begin with an approach of getting all of the projects identified within the database using a simplified template approach based on type of project, incorporating common milestones and establishing relationships between interdependent projects. Once the staff is used to creating, baselining and updating the schedules, they will naturally suggest modifications to the templates making them more accurate and granular. At this point, the concept of applying budgets, actuals and remaining forecasts into the process is ready to be introduced and upon familiarization with that process – the concept of EVMS reporting can be applied.
CBA wants your projects to win and your goals to be achieved. When you engage us, let’s be sure to discuss right-sizing your implementation to ensure its success for the long haul.read more