Do you receive a truckload of schedule reports each month from the contractor?
Do you actually look at or use them all?
Do you know there are many ways of looking at the schedule to be able to review progress, planned work, work that is slipping, or work that is Near Critical?
There are all kinds of reports the contractor can provide. But, it’s best if they know what you will need before they develop the Baseline Project Schedule.
When the contractor develops the schedule, they create groups of activity codes which they assign to activities to be able to filter, sort, and group activities in various ways.
They can assign phase, trade or responsibility, area, work type and many other code assignments.
The CPM schedule can be presented is a number of ways, but typically, we see an xer file, a schedule narrative, and a group of “layouts” in pdf format.
As the owner, you need to know what “layouts” to ask for!
Your specifications should at a minimum require a Critical Path layout with the Critical Path set to equal the Longest Path. I like to show the activity ID, Description, Physical and Duration Complete, Original, Remaining and AT Completion duration columns. Also, the Start, Finish, and Total Float columns. I like to group this by the project and sort on Start and then Finish Dates. This provides the “waterfall” view of the Critical Path. With the At Completion Duration column shown, I can see if there is any delay to any in-progress activities driving the Critical Path.
Your specifications should also at a minimum require a Total Float layout. I like to set this up to be grouped by the project, sorted on Total Float and then Start and then Finish. I show the same columns as I do for the Critical Path layout above. This provides a series of “waterfalls” based on Total Float values. For projects with multiple activity calendars, we cannot rely on the Total Float value to provide an accurate representation of the Near Critical Path(s) and subsequent network paths. But, it is very useful if you keep in mind what activity calendar the types of activities you are looking at typically have assigned. Knowing another network path is only a few days away from being Critical is, well, critical.
The classic layout grouped by WBS or some sort of activity coding is typical. This is the layout you get which shows the project phasing and deliverables broken down with the supporting activities. This is a necessary layout and is almost always provided by the contractor.
There are ways to format a layout to show activities taking longer than planned, not starting or finishing as planned, and planned to start or be underway in the next few weeks. These layouts are all helpful to the owner and the contractor.
Feel free to ask me about layouts I typically use. I’m happy to explain what I use and why.
As Planning and Schedule Professionals, we need to provide the Project Team with the “tools” they need to manage the project. The owner needs to know what presentations to require. We can help them.
I’m sure many of you have comments or additional insight into this subject. Please share!
I’d love to hear what you think!
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Paul Epperson CCM, PMP, PSP, PMI-SP