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Project Consulting and Primavera P6

1. Project Planning and Schedule Management

  • Can we deliver on time?
  • Do I have the right information?
  • Am I profitable?
  • Have I covered my risks?
  • Can I answer my boss’s questions?

These are the issues that keep you awake while managing your project. And we can do something about those.

Many organizations do not manage the project schedule well. When the schedule is managed well, other factors are much easier to handle, and projects are more effective and efficient. Lack of schedule management probably typically results in failure of the project. A good dynamic schedule management is, therefore, crucial to project success.

Moreover, to avoid claims, change orders must be signed off. The problem is that many change order requests (COR) stay unresolved for months because the parties do not agree on the need for a time extension. The contractor is too busy building the project to keep a good dynamic schedule and follow up on every potential schedule impact. Thus, the official end date of the project is disputed because the schedule has not been accepted. Looks familiar? We know it does.

Why do you need a good dynamic schedule anyway? Saleh Mubarak in his book Construction Project Scheduling and Control present eight reasons why contractors need project scheduling. They include:

  1. Calculate the project completion date;
  2. Calculate the start or end of a particular activity;
  3. Coordinate among trades and subcontractors, and expose and adjust conflicts;
  4. Predict and calculate the cash flow;
  5. Improve work efficiency;
  6. Serve as an effective project control tool;
  7. Evaluate the effect of changes;
  8. Prove delay claims.

Having been around construction projects for two (2) decades, we know that over 80% of project schedules do not deliver their intended benefits because many project managers are not knowledgeable about managing project schedules. Managing schedules all start with project planning, and Ekton can help you plan your project.

1.1 Project Planning

If you have received any theoretical training on project scheduling, you may already know that project planning and scheduling are allied disciplines but are not the same. Unfortunately, we still encounter project professionals with years of experience using the term planner for what is supposed to be scheduler.

Question #1: What is the leading cause of capital projects cost and schedule overruns?

Answer: Poor scope definition.

Question #2: What are the reasons for poor scope definition?

Answer:

  1. Pressure to have construction project delivered so it can start to be used, and therefore start to return its investment.
  2. Restricting key resource involvement. The top executive does not want to involve the right resources until the contract gets signed, ignoring by this the cost of opportunity.
  3. Lack of in-house design/planning capability.
  4. Overly optimistic leadership. “This is going to be simple. We’ve built this kind of structures a hundred times!”
  5. Financial pressure to decrease planning costs. As usual, we always shoot the wrong duck. You do not want to decrease planning cost. You want to decrease the overall construction cost.

To help ensure success for your construction project, Ekton defines the front-end planning process, ensures adequate scope definition and alignment of the project team.

Our scope definition occurs in front end planning. Achieving enough scope definition allows discussing risks and deciding on committing resources to maximize the potential for project success. With this regards, Ekton uses the so-called “Project Definition Rating Index” (PDRI) to measure the level of scope definition. The PDRI is one of our risk management tools.

Did you know this?

When the industrial project has a PDRI
Performance <200 >200
Cost is 4% below budget 6% over budget
Schedule is 3% behind schedule 11% behind schedule
Change Orders are 6% of the budget 8% of the budget

Example:  $55 Million Industrial Project, 24-Month Schedule

When the industrial project has a PDRI
Performance <200 >200
Cost $53 million $58 million
Schedule 25 months 27 months

Here is the case of a building project.

When the building project has a PDRI
Performance <200 >200
Cost 1% over budget 10% over budget
Schedule On schedule 21% behind schedule
Change Orders 7% of the budget 11% of the budget

Contact us in the very early phase of your project to discuss how we are going to help lower the PDRI of your construction project, to ensure that the cost, schedule, and volume change orders meet your requirements.

It is not good practice to plan the work while trying to schedule it. Our project planning involves the scheduler working with the project leadership to make decisions concerning:

  1. deciding the policies, procedures, and documentation needed for planning, developing, managing, and controlling the project schedule;
  2. developing the overall strategy of how the work process is to be broken down for control;
  3. how the control is to be managed;
  4. what methods are to be used for design, procurement, and execution;
  5. the strategy for subcontracting and procurement;
  6. the interface between the various participants;
  7. the zones of operation and their interface;
  8. maximizing the efficiency of the project strategy on cost and time;
  9. risk and opportunity management.

2. Dynamic schedules with Primavera P6

2.1 Dynamic schedule models

Unlike many other companies, the development of our schedule models is tightly supervised by an experienced project manager -- holder of a Masters of Engineering -- with 17 years of experience in engineering and construction project management, who understands all the implications commercial implications of the schedule. We never abandon the job to amateur schedulers. We build project schedules from scratch for our clients. We understand that the project schedule serves more than one purpose: this is the tool that is going to be used for cost control, issue management, and managing subcontractors.

We can evaluate multiple scenarios in any area of a schedule. You can see the impact of any change. This means you can generate reliable schedule scenarios, show opportunities to accelerate a project, and select the best path to completing it.

We understand that the scheduling functions has been consistently understaffed in projects, at this might have precipitated the failure of some projects. At Ekton, we make sure that any project has at least three (3) schedulers working on it, with two schedulers working full time.

2.2 Resource Loading and Schedule Quality

Only 15% to 20% of project schedules around the world are resource loaded. Anyone would understand why more than 80% of construction schedules are not fit for generating funding profile or to helping with the mobilization of resources (who am I going to hire? When is the good time to do it? What equipment do I need and when? Who is competing for the same resources and when does that happen?) These kinds of schedules are not high quality schedules.

A high-quality schedule will pass quantitative validation (links, lags, float, etc…) while it also contains the results of qualitative diligence, such as scope verification and risk and opportunity integration. Without these elements, the schedule is not a roadmap to success… in fact, it may lead the team toward failure.

Ekton can resource load your schedule and turn it into a quality schedule by performing all the validation advocated by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

All our schedules have the following four characteristics of a high-quality, reliable schedule:

Comprehensive, reflecting

  • all activities as defined in the project’s WBS
  • the labor, materials, and overhead needed to do the work and whether those resources will be available when needed
  • how long each activity will take, allowing for discrete progress measurement with specific start and finish dates

Well-constructed, with

  • all activities logically sequenced with predecessor and successor logic
  • limited amounts of unusual or complicated logic techniques that are justified in the schedule documentation.
  • a critical path that determines which activities drive the project’s earliest completion date
  • total float that accurately determines the schedule’s flexibility

Credible, reflecting

  • the order of events necessary to achieve aggregated products or outcomes;
  • varying levels of activities, supporting activities, and subtasks;
  • key dates that can be used to present status updates to management;
  • a level of confidence in meeting a project’s completion date based on data about risks and opportunities for the project;
  • necessary schedule contingency and high priority risks based on conducting a robust schedule risk analysis.

Controlled, being

  • updated periodically by schedulers trained in critical path method scheduling
  • statused using actual progress and logic to realistically forecast dates for program activities
  • compared against a documented baseline schedule to determine variances from the plan
  • accompanied by a corresponding baseline document that explains the overall approach to the project, defines assumptions, and describes unique features of the schedule
  • subject to a configuration management control process

2.3 Integrated schedule and cost control

  • Do you not have a consistent way to view the project budget, cost and forecast information?
  • Do you not have time-phased cost information to help provide funding needs and workload backlog information?
  • Are you stuck trying to figure out how to properly view information across all projects or sub-projects?
  • Is the contractor or vendor slowing you down? Do you have any way to assess the impact of delays by outside groups or agencies?

Our integrated cost and schedule control approach helps project professionals to define project scope and build a cost and schedule against that scope.

3. 5D Project Scheduling Includes Time and Cost

Simulate construction project scheduling in 5D to visually communicate and analyze project activities and minimize delays and sequencing problems.

  1. Help confirm building or demolition viability by developing construction or demolition sequences that link model geometry to times and dates.
  2. Import times, dates, costs, and other task data from project management software to dynamically link schedules with project models.
  3. Set up planned and actual times to visualize deviations from the project schedule.
  4. Export 5D simulations as AVI animations or sequential images.
  5. Customize simulation behavior and overlay text.
  6. Copy and paste dates from spreadsheets and specialist planning tools.
  7. Use tools to associate geometry and tasks.