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The importance of project schedule integrity

The Linesight approach to schedule quality assurance ensures that Project Managers are confident that the data and information is of sufficient quality to make effective business decisions.

The project schedule

Today, there are numerous software tools available to manage schedules, which are relatively easy to operate and allow for the creation of well-presented and aesthetically pleasing schedules. Yet here lies the problem – despite appearing credible, schedules can misrepresent the true structure and intricacies of a project, and be underpinned by no sound logic. 

Project Managers are often not aware of the technical deficiencies that can render the schedule data flawed. The layers of complexity of a schedule can be underestimated and the risk of operating schedule software without sufficient scheduling knowledge, experience and quality control can be erroneously overlooked.

The schedule is a dynamic document and it is inevitable that it will change and evolve from an agreed baseline across the course of a project. Constant variations in the schedule, as it is progressed, single-handedly provide a challenge for a Scheduler to maintain schedule integrity. Couple this with formal change incorporation and the Scheduler has a major challenge to maintain the quality of the deliverable. 

Experienced Schedulers will recognize the need for a schedule governed by standards and best practices which enforce quality, providing assurance that scheduling information can be relied upon.  On any project, it is imperative that the expectations regarding schedule quality are communicated from the outset, ensuring that quality is established when the first baseline is set, and schedule integrity validated and maintained thereafter.

The Linesight approach

Linesight do not just review a schedule for the forecast finish dates and major milestones. In addition to ensuring that a schedule accurately represents project scope and delivery strategy, our approach questions schedule construction, credibility and conformance to recognized best practices.

A process referred to in Linesight as a ‘Schedule Health Check’ (SHC), is the method by which schedule integrity is measured, predominantly involving the use of statistical data and analysis.

Our Global Planning Team undertakes SHCs on all of our projects, and these form the foundation of all Linesight scheduling processes that follow.  

The justification is simple – a schedule of sound quality underpins every other aspect of schedule analysis including:

  • Delivery performance analysis
  • Critical path analysis
  • Earned value analysis
  • Schedule quantitative risk analysis
  • Time-delay impact analysis

Without confirmation of schedule integrity, all schedule outputs can be easily discredited, deemed invalid and result in a loss of schedule confidence, which can be impossible to recover from. 

The Schedule Health Check (SHC)

The Linesight SHC is a documented procedure that all of our Schedulers follow globally, maintaining quality and consistency in our practices, irrespective of project or location. 

The SHC is based around the ‘DCMA 14-point assessment’, an approach which was developed by the United States Department of Defense and evaluates schedule conformance to a prescriptive list of criteria, all of which measure norms and thresholds.

A few examples of areas analyzed by the assessment include:

  • Activity relationships and logic 
  • Constraints and float levels 
  • Abnormal durations 
  • Software and calendar setting, 
  • Resource allocation 
Project-schedule-integrity-2

Linesight procedures enforce a level of schedule interaction that requires our team to have truly investigated the dynamics of a schedule. Utilization of multi-user software applications allows our Planning team to provide consultation worldwide, ensuring we have business unit expertise to support any project.  In addition, Linesight processes recognize industry best practices which are endorsed by professional bodies worldwide including the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), AACE International, the Association for Project Management (APM) and the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).

The future

Be under no illusions – a better schedule will not single-handedly deliver project success. Nonetheless, avoidable errors within schedules are likely to hinder decision making and the delivery of project objectives.

In 2011, a study of 35 Capex projects* (US$15 million- US$30 billion) identified a positive correlation, with 60 percent confidence, that schedule quality drives project execution, corroborating the importance of the scheduling practice. 

Project-schedule-integrity-1

In support of our clients, we continue to drive and support scheduling practices through improved methodologies, education and reforms that administer greater schedule quality control. 

Our aim is to ensure that Linesight Schedulers can provide schedule information of a validated quality, which can assist clients in making the best business decision possible at a given point in time.

*: Patterson, D. & Choi, J.O. (2011) ‘Does Better Scheduling Drive Execution Success?’ 

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