Marion Close, Planning Manager with Linesight, outlines the advantages that a well-constructed schedule brings to your project.
'By creating a solid schedule at the start of the project, project managers can help curb cost overruns, resource shortages or excessive change requests'
- The Society of Construction Law (SCL) Delay and Disruption Protocol October 2002
When each activity is logically tied with a predecessor and successor, durations and budgeted hours are accurately estimated, an acceleration or delay scenario can be calculated, to give better visibility to the Project Manager of how and where the project will be impacted. Better information = better decisions.
At initiation phase of the project a WBS will be set up in accordance to how the work will be performed. In turn, the WBS will correspond with the CBS (Cost Breakdown Structure) making clear correlation between what is being spent (€), earned and performed.
Upon agreement of the baseline by all project stakeholders, a two or four-week look ahead is issued to the team to allow them to plan their work around the critical activities and help them focus on what needs to be done and when. This will significantly reduce the possibility of project slippage.
Once the baseline is set, a copy is then taken to start tracking progress against. Any significant deviation from the baseline scope is considered a change and will be part of Management of Change practice.
Project critical paths are the tasks that must start and/or finish on time to ensure that the project ends on schedule1. The critical path may change over the life cycle of the project as each task is mitigated and managed.
By practicing EVM, you must invest time in building a strong logic driven schedule. Once done, you can then extract accurate data from your schedule to use to build your planned curves. Then throughout the life cycle you will compare your Earned against your planned curve and determine your forecast project progress based on your performance to date.
When onsite resources are constrained due to safety or operational reasons, you can build a maximum resource capacity constraint on a monthly or weekly basis to which the schedule should not run over this number. This helps with resource levelling based on the total float on over allocated activities.
Once you have established a clear WBS, and collaboration is made with Cost Management and their CBS (Cost Breakdown Structure), Cost will be able to reference a common code between the WBS and CBS and establish better estimates for the cost forecast, path to completion.
Following the handover of the project, the schedule will be as-built. From the as-built, we can collect fragnets of data within a WBS, and use on future projects instead of starting from scratch. Using original resource units v actual spent units.
Once the schedule is ‘based-lined’, and logically closed, the PM can identify project Gates whereby criteria will be 100% prior to this gate. Extracting data from as-built projects will help identify these more accurately.