Developing a good schedule is critical to the successful execution of any project. This is true for all industries as schedule slippage can be costly to clients and result in lost productivity.
There are many methods that can be utilised to develop your schedule, starting from high level overviews (level 1) right through to detailed work plans detailing individual activities (level 4).
Generally, our schedule development would be broken down into several phases.
Defining the project objectives
Scope definition & WBS
Sequencing the project activities
Estimating activity durations and costs
Reconciling the schedule with time constraints
Reconciling the schedule with resource constraints
Reviewing the schedule
Before we can start building the schedule, the project objectives must be clearly defined. These will include the scope of work, time-frames, major milestones that must be met both in and outside of the scope of work and a general overview of resources required to complete the project.
Once we have an understanding of the project objectives and scope of work we can start developing the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to be used for the project as well as a list of activities and their deliverables. This is also where we will define everything needed to build your schedule around a P6 database, activity ID structure, activity codes, discipline codes and resources.
We will then schedule Interactive Project Planning Meetings (IPPM) to define your activity networks and schedule logic. These full wall scheduling techniques (in which tasks and milestones are mapped out) will utilise your own team’s knowledge and project insights and will help us define interdisciplinary links and possible obstacles as well as providing your team with a sense of ‘ownership’ of the schedule.
To manage a project successfully you will require a live project schedule that is actively monitored, updated and maintained to ensure the project team know exactly where they are and what work remains. This process will include ongoing cycles of updates and reviews. The larger the project, the more labour intensive the maintenance of the schedule will be.
Program and schedule management integrates the project data defined within the schedule development phase. It requires the commitment of the project team and provides a way to track progress and updates the schedule to enable early identification of potential risk and overrun of costs.
Focusing on the scheduled activities will help us achieve completion of the project within your specified time span and help you eliminate lost productivity and wasted man hours, which in turn will help you survive competition. Deliverable-oriented and schedule-driven project execution is essential in optimising manpower utilisation and meeting the client's ever-shortening schedule requirements on time and within budget.
For some, the process of managing a project schedule lacks consistent standards. However, our knowledge of planning methodologies will help implement the best practices for both - creating and managing a project schedule with the goal of minimising inefficiency and maximizing the potential to achieve deliverables and key milestones on time.
Overrunning costs can make or break the success of a project and in many cases has a dramatic negative effect on a company should an agreed lump sum contract significantly overrun. This can result in significant losses for the company.
The relationship between the project cost and scope should be direct, and realistic expectations of what a project will cost will provide much more insight to the project’s scope. As the project need is analysed, progressive elaboration and estimates are completed based on varying levels of detail, and eventually the cost of the project will emerge. Often, the baseline and actual costs vary. Poor planning, distorted assumptions and optimistic estimates all contribute to this, therefore a successful project controls team must budget, plan, schedule, forecast and control the costs of a project accurately and effectively.
The cost of labour may be one of the biggest expenses of a project and therefore project cost must rely on time estimates to predict the expense of man-hours required to complete the project work. In addition, the cost of the equipment and materials needed to complete the project work must be factored into the project expenses.
We can work alongside your estimation team to integrate both planning and cost for both direct and indirect costs, providing cost loaded schedules that are constantly managed and maintained. We help integrate your resource rates to the planned usage of resources during the project lifecycle and provide earned value cost management (EVM) within a live project environment.
Poor planning and control of resources can result in projects over spending and under performing. Businesses of all sizes must manage their resources efficiently and a project with a determined budget and time frame is certainly no different. Too many resources will increase cost and lower productivity, too few and you risk impacting the end date due to unachievable goals.
Using fully resource loaded schedules will help forecast when and where your team is required, and working alongside human recourses and trusted recruitment agencies will allow for the effective deployment of an organisation's team when they are needed to complete the tasks in hand efficiently and within the target timeframes set out by the target baseline schedule.
Using various methods of estimating and analysis such as developing a resource loaded schedule, resource levelling, producing manpower histograms, s-curves and forecasting the projects requirements - we aim to provide optimal resource utilisation for the entire lifecycle of the project, ensuring efficient and timely completion of the outlined tasks without over-allocation.
We can work with our trusted recruitment agencies to provide a multi-discipline team to suit your specific needs, or simply liaise with your own human resource team to provide them with the recruitment schedule they require whilst constantly monitoring and updating the needs of the project.
A project schedule is a tool to enable project management teams to accurately predict the future. Due to the nature of this there is always a large area of uncertainty, and trying to predict the outcome of a project which includes a large numbers of tasks and variables is a difficult thing to do. Schedule delays cause problems for the project owners and contractors. Delays for lost time, or periods where no work is available to perform can amount to losses of millions of pounds to big companies. We help make sure that doesn’t happen.
Critical Path Method
Critical Path Method (CPM) scheduling is common practise within most projects and this provides insight to the longest path of the scheduled activities. If their durations increase it can impact the completion date. In many cases the baseline critical path can change during project execution and if this is not properly identified then overrun can be caused by concentrating resource on non-critical activities at the wrong point in time of the project lifecycle.
However, Critical Path Method can have its disadvantages for a number of reasons. These can include instances where the project is complex and difficult to manage correctly, or the rules of scheduling are not always clear to the scheduler, and unrealistic project completion dates set out by project stakeholders leading to compressed or poorly estimated activity durations. Each of these can provide false criticality of a schedule and therefore the path identified as the ‘critical path’ may not be the one to delay the project, so other methods must be included to schedule risk analysis techniques.
Monte Carlo simulations can be performed where multiple scenarios are modelled to produce multiple outcomes. This can result in identifying a definite statistical chance that an end date is achievable. So there would be a 95% chance that a specific date has a likelihood of success as opposed to setting a definitive date.
We have many other methods of analysing risk such as ‘merge bias’ methods, however as each project is different, various methods must be executed to identify the highest risk paths.
Progress & Performance
The measurement of project performance in any industry is always a challenge for management teams. As market places become increasingly competitive, the need for effective project management and control must be concise and satisfactory to clients’ ever growing needs to successfully satisfy the expected performance of time, cost and quality.
While projects push the boundaries of technological complexity, the level of suitably skilled resources is often limited and the scope of work and project costs can continually expand, which in turn results in the requirement to have efficient progress monitoring and controlling tools to measure project performance.
Progress and performance measurement is a planning and control system that expands much further than simply showing current progress complete measurement or comparing planned and actual expenditure. We do this by incorporating many different methods of control into the project to enable management teams to analyse and make informed decisions as to what areas are over or under performing and what can be done to address issues that arise during the project lifecycle.
Earned Value Management
Some of the many performance indicators and benchmarking measures we would incorporate within our reporting include earned value management (EVM). This can be used for both cost and labour and would provide insight to the productivity of your team and can also show the accuracy of budget estimating.
Cost & Schedule Performance Indexes
Once we have EVM measurements we can implement Cost Performance Indexes which can be produced as a measure of cost efficiency and Schedule Performance Indexes to compare your actual performance to your baseline. And of course these can be tied into our Custom Reporting Systems to provide concise and accurate measurement of your project’s performance both for the period and for the remaining duration.