Construction Scheduling. Progress Updates and Incomplete Work.

When we update Actual Progress for the Schedule update, how do we report the incomplete activities? How do we report the progress for the work, (activities) currently in progress?

We know how to report the completed work.

More often than not, there are many activities which may have Actual Start Dates in the previous Update Period. There are also activities which will have Actual Start Dates and Finish Dates in this Progress Update. There will also be activities which will not have Actual Finish Dates. The way we report the Actual Progress for these activities is crucial to maintaining the schedule validity.

The Project Team has to decide just how much of the “work” represented by the activity is complete. What percentage of the work is complete…. This should be a measure of quantity completed.

Too often, we see the Duration Percent Complete set as the Progress Percent Complete. This is not the best method of reporting the Actual Progress.

If the Duration Percent Complete is used to report the Actual Progress, the schedule is not going to be valid. Setting the Duration Percent Complete to a specific value results in the program calculating the Remaining Duration. This, in turn, establishes the scheduled Finish Date for that activity. This is the problem. The scheduled Finish Date for an incomplete activity should be set by the Project Team as the date they expect the work for that activity to actually finish. Unless this scheduled Finish Date is used, and the successor activities driven by the remaining duration and logic for the network string are allowed to calculate the new scheduled dates, the schedule is not valid.

Using Duration Percent Complete does not, in most cases, represent the actual schedule progress and accurately model the remaining plan to execute the project.

A better method to report Actual Progress is the use of Physical Percent Complete. This value is based on the actual work in place. The Duration Percent Complete should be the result of setting the scheduled Finish Date or Remaining Duration based on Project Team input. This allows us to have the value of work in place and the value of the time used to complete this work in place. We can then easily see if we are meeting the required productivity rate for this work activity.

The next step, after entering all the Actual Dates and Scheduled Finish Dates, (or adjusting Remaining Durations for in-progress work), is to “schedule” or calculate the project schedule. We should then look at the Out-of-Sequence, OOS logic and make corrections.

I believe in correcting all the OOS logic each update. Many do not consider this necessary and others consider it only necessary for activities on the Critical or Near Critical Paths. Some Schedule Specifications or Requirements address this issue, but most do not. I consider it a best practice for keeping the schedule valid for the as-built progress and do not like the idea of the OOS logic driving future dates and logic, which can happen.

Using the Physical Percent Complete for reporting Actual Work in Place, letting the Duration Percent Compete report the actual Activity Duration consumed, and correcting the OOS logic is the first part of the Progress Update process.

This allows us to maintain the schedule as a valid tool for planning the remaining work from the Data Date forward. If the Progress Update results in a late Finish Date for the project, then we have some work to do. This is, more often than not, the case. We can make adjustments to the plan to complete the remaining work through Schedule Revisions. This issue is a subject for another post.

It is my opinion that the best thing the Project Team can do is establish the most realistic Progress Update possible, each Update Period. If we don’t know where the project actually is, how can we drive the project to a successful completion? If the Progress Update is not valid, the Critical Path and Near Critical Path(s) are most likely not valid. How then, can a Project Team manage the Critical work? How can the Project Team identify and address work which is actually lagging?

We should, as Schedule Professionals, provide the “reality” of the project performance.

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

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