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I am happy to announce the official publication of my fifth book titled “Risk, What are You? The Risk Management Book, Children’s Book for all Professionals.” Written and illustrated for children of reading age (with some guidance), young leaders, future managers and all professionals. See the Youtube Book Video Introduction to learn more. It is now available in Amazon and various international outlets.

I am happy to announce the official publication of my fifth book titled “Risk, What are You? The Risk Management Book, Children’s Book for all Professionals.” Written and illustrated for children of reading age (with some guidance), young leaders, future managers and all professionals. See the Youtube Book Video Introduction below to learn more. It is now available in Amazon and various international outlets.

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It is inspirational to hear words that rhyme, uplifting our being when a line and a stanza impart a meaning using the song-like attributes of articulated statements. The uncanny characteristic and power of a poem to send the intended message with amazing clarity catches our senses. Amazingly, we suddenly become more receptive. We tune in, listen more and even unconsciously let down our guard. Our biases disappear and we embrace the message to fully consider the substance.

Today, I am excited to publish an original 18-stanza rhyme poem of (8-6-8-6 metric) in a fully illustrated 8.5" x 8.5" children's book for kids of reading age, future young leaders and present day professionals.

Thanks to my dearest wife and all those who supported me in this project!

Rufran C. Frago-Author & Illustrator

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The kindle and paperback edition of my book "Schedule Quantitative Risk Analysis (Traditional Method)" was officially approved and published. It is now live in the Amazon Store and other international outlets.

 

#riskanalysis #pmsolutionpro #projectmanagement #contingency #threepointestimate #planning #scheduling #scheduleriskanalysis #quantitativerisk 

 

https://amzn.to/2Ocw6qS

 

 

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FREE WHITE PAPER From PM Solution Pro (https://www.pmsolutionpro.com)

 

Remember this! Plan to Schedule, Schedule to Plan” underlines the misconception plaguing all fields of management. It briefly explains that a clear line of sight must always exist between risk-based planning and risk-based scheduling. This brief write up proves that the two, although distinct, are mutually interdependent processes.

 

The big word of advice to all practitioners: Don’t try to separate the two!
Read this white paper now and let us have a discussion. It might open your awareness a little more.

What do you think?

 

If you have not already done so using the image above, click the following hyperlink:

http://eepurl.com/dsgs1X

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https://lnkd.in/gfnqr8s 

 

Announcing the publication of my second book "How to Create a Good Quality P50 Risk-based Baseline Schedule."

It is available in Amazon.com in paperbacks and Kindle e-book edition. A bad schedule will result in budget overruns, and poor quality facilities, products/services. A poorly prepared schedule will not stay to expectation. This is the truth. It is not theoretical because it has been proven. It is a practical rule of thumb.

 

Competing probabilities are bad for the project. There is a need to improve full control, attainable only through a fully integrated project portfolio. A high probability activity depending on low probability predecessors will almost certainly be delayed. The delay will have a cascade effect of perhaps delaying the next tasks.

 

There is a big possibility of overall delay because of varying degree of probability among activities. Identifying the P50 of each activity and aligning them is one solution. Enhancing success is possible by creating a P50 Risk-based, sound, and achievable baseline schedule.

 

Enjoy reading!

 

Rufran C. Frago

Author

Project planning and scheduling processes follow a management framework called the Project Implementation Model (PIM). Such model divides the project into sub-boundaries called stages, gates, or checkpoints.

 

Does not really matter what proprietary term they call it. Company Y can call it Y-PIM (Company Y Implementation Model). Construction firm ABC might call theirs ABC-PIM.

 

Company ABC can call it any name because the name will not affect the framework’s gated process effectiveness.

  What matter is this: the organization and its members understand the concept of the implementation model. The project team has to know what the stage deliverables are in order for the project to cross the gate successfully. 

Mr. Just Saying (not his real name) expressed one of his pet peeves. Waving his hands in circle, he exclaimed in frustration,

 

“Believe me, many project members, from beginners to specialists, to senior leaders do not fully understand what the gated process is! During my various interactions in the last two decades, I have found and concluded that these people appear to know all yet they know a little more than nothing.”

 

He added, “They appear knowledgeable when they skim the surface but collapse completely when taken to deeper waters of understanding. Bottom line fact: they do not know the deliverables required at each gate. How can one provide directions without knowing what needs to be done?”

 

It is clear that the best way any project member should go about it is be honest. Ask questions and learn from those who really know because leading and directing without knowing is intellectual deceit.

 

Admitting that one has limited knowledge of the Gated process is far more morally acceptable than pretending.

 

There are a few ways to divide the project timeline into stages of say four to seven stages. A five (5) stage/gate project management framework is one of them. Each stage represents a period allocated for the project to gather all information and materials that will qualify it to cross the control gate leading to the next stage (Figure 1).

 

Each division is a period of gradual development starting from zero to Gate 1 or the initiation, conception and development stage. The timeline from the beginning of the project to its first gate called Stage 1.

 

The project starts developing the basis of schedule in Stage 1. It is a planning document and a necessary input to schedule development. A schedule must have a plan to be believable.

 

Other organizations call Gate 1 as Checkpoint 1, Traffic Light 1, Gateway 1, or perhaps, Doorway 1. Many professed management experts continuously interchanged gates and stages. Do not be one of them!

 

Design-based memorandum stage follows. It is the period where concept selection and optimization occurs.

 

Engineering design specification leads to Gate 3 and subsequently the execution and commissioning stage leading to Gate 4.

 

The final stage is for final close out, post investment evaluation, investment review, and operability assessment. Unlike the early stages, the last stage uses highly defined information.

 

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  Figure 1 - Project Management Gated Process 

 

The gated process is more of a guide than a standard, under a common frame of reference and understanding.

 

The reason for the guide concept is the fact that project is unique and must have enough elbowroom to be flexible, giving it the ability to tailor certain details distinctly relevant to the scope.

 

A framework with a rigid one-way philosophy and very prescriptive approach is impossible to implement. 

 

Management frameworks and their gated process must have breadth and depth to be successful. It has to have visible support from management and overseen by a strong governance team. Although projects have the final call in the end, the guide provides the essential tools, techniques, and data to sift, group, sort, and pick the right decision.

 

Each responsible business process owner shall review the deliverable he is responsible for, listing problems, issues, findings, and observations. Be aware that project scope has a big influence on what is included in the list. The framework’s project implementation model defines documentation requirements.

 

The decision to pass the project through a gate is heavily dependent on the information available and provided at the time of review. This is why the gated process was also known as a “stage-limited commitment or creeping commitment (Wikipedia, 2017.Phase-Gate Model).

 

“The overall plan loses substance when important pieces are missing. It can also lose its essence when many smaller project elements are absent, through their cumulative effect. Data maturity is a project attribute project managers have to deal with in some intelligent way.

 

They seek to formulate a way to address missing and incomplete information, to strike a balance somehow. It is a threat trying to integrate a project with missing or incomplete work scope. Filling in an information space with assumed fill-in data is a risky trade-off (Frago, R., 2015.Wordpress.Retrieved from Risk-based Management: Data Maturity, Integration, Risk, and Execution).

 

The Gated process that lies within a project management framework demonstrates to all that a project (or any endeavor) has to start somewhere, sometime, with what is available in terms of resources and finally complete at the last stage.

  When assumptions, fill-in information, and constraints are at it its peak, data maturity, and reliability are at their lowest (  ibid.). 

One begins with an idea, feasibility study, business case, selecting alternative, optimizing selection, and detailing the plan and design, and executing the plan while pursuing the end-goal or group of objectives that can bring beneficial returns to the company.

 

Source:

Frago, R., (2016).Draft Manuscript\Plan to Schedule, Schedule to Plan. ISBN 978-0-9947608-2-1

 

RUFRAN C. FRAGO, P.Eng, PMP®, CCP, PMI-RMP® – Author (051517)

 

https://www.amazon.com/author/rufrancfrago

https://youtu.be/LDESPW6OYkg

Indigo/Chapters

 

Related sites:

E-Touch Up

My Oil Pro

Risk-based Management and Services Inc. Facebook

E-Touch Up (Facebook)

Your World, Our Risk Universe: Wordpress

LinkedIn Professional Website

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This is my fifth book-signing event (Venue = Signal Hills, Calgary, AB).  

 

I had the pleasure of meeting with John Castaneda, a Planning and Scheduling colleague, and Kate Knowles, a new friend. Thanks for your support. My daughter Maria Zenka and Stephen Thornhill came to visit. It was a nice surprise.

 

Rubbed shoulders with fellow author (A Moth to the Flame) Deb Sanders and husband Ed. An interesting talk with Antonio Sevilla how risk-based management (RBM) relates to Christian beliefs was specially uplifting as it gave me the chance to explain how RBM applies to everything including religion.

 

"Managing sins and temptations is in itself risk-based management to getting that heavenly reward at the end of each of man’s life cycle (Frago, R., 2015.The Risk of Sinning and the End of Times: Christian View of a Risk Manager).” https://lnkd.in/ecBqHBW  

 

My last book-signing event is on July 22, 2017, Saturday at Chinook-Chapters, Calgary, Alberta (11 am to 3 pm).

See you there!  

 

Cheers!  

 

Rufran C. Frago - Author

Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls a Perspective. https://lnkd.in/gNPT8ma 

 

*My second book is coming out soon! "Plan to Schedule, Schedule to Plan. ISBN 978-0-9947608-2-1"

PMSolutionPro

SCHEDULE-DRIVEN PROJECTS

Posted by PMSolutionPro Dec 21, 2016

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One benchmarking article mentioned an IPA study presented in March 2010 annual meeting of the Industry Benchmarking Consortium (IPA, 2010) how frequently small, site-base projects fail to meet objectives. The study divided the projects into two groups, cost-driven and schedule-driven. The question came up whether there are real benefits to grouping a project into the two categories regardless of project size.

 

“The research showed that a high rate of schedule-driven projects is detrimental to a site’s overall performance. Schedule-driven projects are more likely to incur high costs, cost overruns, and even safety incidents. The average schedule-driven project has 5 percent higher cost than an equivalent non-schedule-driven project. This may not seem like a substantial amount, but it adds up to millions of dollars spent on schedule in a typical project portfolio (IPA, 2016. What's the Hurry? Why Are So Many Small Projects Schedule-Driven?.Retrieved from http://www.ipaglobal.com/what-s-the-hurry-why-are-so-many-small-projects-schedule-driven).

 

In the project management world, we accomplish and perform a schedule driven project using an overruling and dominant control of time. The risk-based process involved revolves around the timeline, timeframe, key and critical dates.

It is a management mandate to make time the key condition of project’s success. It becomes the heavier consideration when making project management decisions.

 

Time is the essence. Time is the driver, hence the term “schedule-driven.” The project schedule is highly prioritized over and above other project elements such as cost, resources, quality, and even risk. In many instances, quality is the first to go, followed closely by relaxed cost control, and series of scope changes.

 

Risk accompanies any decision to do or not to do something. It is ever present in every element and associated activity no matter how it is managed.

 

 

Here is an example of scope change in an effort to keep the project schedule baseline intact:

 

Instead of a six train mine conveyors, where three are standbys, the project can decide to execute only three, enough to put the mine facility into production.

At that point in time, the project has a cumulative earned progress of 65% versus the 80% plan.

 

The other three will then be implemented a few months after commissioning and start up, under the Operation/Maintenance budget. Such is accomplished by transferring funds from the current major capital project to the OPEX/Maintenance budget. Scope is followed closely by the project accepting the unavoidable and sometimes additional cost increases.

 

Scheduling subject matter experts/consultants have calculated in definite terms that the schedule was delayed by four months, and that was using CPM, a comprehensive what-if assessment using additional resources and best methods considered.

After much deliberation, the Project Manager upon advice from the Project Control Manager decided that the only way to achieve the Final Project Turnover and meet production date is to remove some scopes.

 

By taking them outside the project target timeline and executing the removed scopes right after the commissioning and start-up phase, the project most important deliverables (the Final Turnover and Production Date) will be on time.

The removed scopes (three spare conveyor trains and ancillaries’) will then be executed under the operation and maintenance in-house project using a transferred capital budget.

 

The question I would like to ask the readers is this: If the current schedule meets its final delivery date on time, “Is the project a success or failure?” If you have time to throw in your professional opinion, let me know.

 

Risk accompanies every decision to do or not to do something. One has to remember that threats and opportunities are ever present in every choice the project makes. Each project element and associated activity is managed while contemplating risk. All management are risk-based.

 

Project people should be careful when using the term. Haphazardly using this unfamiliar word can cause confusion in the organization. It can cloud understanding of some members even if they belong to the same project. It’s known to muddy the water, complicating the works of subject matter experts working in the industry.

 

An inexperienced person who thinks he knows a thing or two will end up giving a different meaning than intended, putting more color to the word than intended. This is why upper management and the middle managers have to determine and understand the nuances involved in declaring a project schedule driven. They better provide something specific that will frame the term correctly. Unless they do so, they will be asking for trouble. Never assume that when the word is blurted out, everyone understood!

 

For example, we asked Project Controls Director Peter Guessing (not his real name) how he interprets the term “schedule driven." The project’s upper management had just declared 40% of all new projects to be schedule driven. The mandate was made known during the most recent communication meeting. No other particular was provided except the mention of the term “schedule driven.”

 

Just like the others who came before him, Peter came up with the same all-encompassing connotation that his projects next year will not have cost and spending problem. He said that cost will no longer be a constraining factor. He has a free hand with commitments, changes, and resources. It will be easier to justify budgets and its distribution.

 

A Project Manager and few others tuned in. Almost in unison, they said half-jokingly, “sky is the limit! The project can spend higher than normal as long as the project meets the delivery dates. In short, the business is willing to pay.” Whatever it is they are thinking, they do have their very own understanding which might not be the same as what upper management wants to convey. It is therefore of utmost importance to check for understanding. A re-orientation session among project leaders is a good next step.

If management floats the term schedule-driven without explaining what it really means, other members might expect something different. A schedule-driven project has a general default definition but it is prudent to provide more specifics by defining some boundaries (rules and guides) to be more effective.

 

It will help prevent directors, managers/leaders from making assumptions leading to decisions the project ends up regretting. Never forget that risk lies waiting amidst every decision until the project is successfully closed out.

 

An endeavor geared to reduce carbon emissions and sulfur contents is a good illustration. If the project misses the effective date or dates of a critical regulatory requirement, then the law or statute applies promptly, resulting in court injunction, huge penalty, unproductivity, financial losses, construction stoppage, or even the closure of a large operating facility, resulting in unemployment. To increase probability of hitting the date/s, the project was declared schedule driven.

 

A strategic balance needs to be set despite the schedule driven mandate. There are certain points during the project life cycle when blindly focusing on one leg of the iron triangle (schedule) won’t work. Doing so indiscriminately might derail overall success.

 

Source: Frago, R. (2015). Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective. ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7 (Canada). Section 3.19.page 52

 

 

Rufran C. Frago – Author (17-Dec-16)

 

Related sites:

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago.

  1. Risk Case Study: Blood-stained Bumper, Cause and Effect
  2. Plan and Schedule to the Right Level of Details
  3. We are all Risk Managers!
  4. Risk Relativity
  5. Phantom Schedules
  6. Man is the Center of the Risk Universe
  7. Project Schedule Baseline Top 10 Prerequisites
  8. Setting Critical Path
  9. Schedule Critical path
  10. Primer to Good Schedule Integration
  11. Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
  12. Schedule Baseline Dilemma Part 1
  13. Schedule Baseline Dilemma Part 2
  14. 4D Scheduling Part 1: What is it about?
  15. 4D Scheduling Part 2
  16. 4D Scheduling Part 3
  17. Mega-Projects Schedule Management and Integration
  18. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Part 1
  19. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Part 2
  20. Your World, Our Risk Universe
  21. Rufran Frago in the Global Risk Community Site
PMSolutionPro

Black Swans

Posted by PMSolutionPro Oct 24, 2016

Black swan events are so fascinating that they are a common source of discussion in many risk management forums. The variety of perspectives coming from all directions never ceases to amaze.

To a risk manager, 'black swan' phenomena are highly unlikely events that have massive impacts on a business or society on the rare occasions they occur. It means that the event is unexpected, but is of huge consequence (Ferguson, 2014). There is no scientific way at present to predict black swan events reasonably and acceptably. Understanding black swans can help planner and scheduler in their task.

 

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I tend to question the result of the research, which suggested that by exploiting many types of data, risk managers can help prevent (or at least contain) the damage related to black swan events and other risky blind spots.

    How can any data be useful without the process of correlation? Black swan events cannot be accurately quantified or calculated. They are unknown unknowns.   

The interesting part mentioned in one study points to the use of integrated data to point to potential risk. The mere mention of integrated data underlines correlation; i.e. we have to associate correctly one datum to the next, or one set of information to the others, for them to be of value.

That can prove rather impossible when we have nothing to start with. How do we start working on something we do not know? There is an immense number of data points where one can start. Only by scratching the surface of knowledge that knowing starts.

    Unknown unknowns (black swans) might be in the room, for all we know, but we just cannot see them until circumstances make them visible.  

Once we see that the risk exists, we would surmise that it no longer qualifies as a black swan event, because we are now aware of the risk, and the element of surprise is no longer there. It is now the normal type of risk that you, and many risk managers are already familiar with, the known unknowns.

 

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Bill Pieroni, Chief Operating Officer at insurance giant Marsh, and a few others, contend that the best way to manage risk, even black swans is to use big data.

He explains that some events occur with more and more regularity, suggesting that some seemingly unknowable events are in fact, becoming more or less predictable. He claims that this big data will give way to shades-of-grey swans.

Perhaps he is talking about the transition from being unknown to more or less known. Although it sounds logical, shades of grey will be a doubtful state, a ghost of something that will not present any solid evidence but introduce vagueness to nothingness. It might only serve as a uncertainty generator.

 

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In the present age and time, black swan events can only be addressed by intuition.

Despite being labeled as one of the cognitive biases that underlie human flaws in decision-making, I believe that this is a true statement.

We can all agree that if anyone has the right perspective, understanding, and tools to process universal data, and integrate them into some coherent information, prediction of a black swan event is theoretically possible.

    The problem in this concept is that nobody has found a way to make it practically possible.  
    Ergo, contrary to what the author implies, real-world application of Pieroni's ideas is still impossible.  

The risk universe is immense, yet each component, regardless of how small it might be, can affect the results. If we put a bracket to what data we analyze, then we do not have the whole picture.

If we do not put a bracket of limitation to what we evaluate, then we are analyzing infinity and we will not arrive at an answer. We are talking about a great and expansive risk network that trumps common comprehension.

    I imagine that many risk drivers actually lie so far outside the boundaries of what we tend to consider that it is futile to predict a potential outcome.  

Tracing the cause of a black swan event that has already happened can lead us to the most seemingly insignificant occurrence.

It is easy to posit real life examples of how some insignificant events result in a big events, spawning other effects in never ending fashion. Some of you might even trace a problem to the time when a person was born, arguing that if he had not come into being, things would have turned out differently.

 

I tell you, the iterations are endless. The good thing is, it is an excellent mental exercise.

 

Source: Frago, R. (2015).Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective. ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7 (Canada). Section 1.7

 

Rufran C. Frago – Author (First published in LinkedIn on 19-Oct-16)

 

Related sites:

 

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago.

  1. Risk Relativity
  2. Phantom Schedules
  3. Man is the Center of the Risk Universe
  4. Project Schedule Baseline Top 10 Prerequisites
  5. Setting Critical Path
  6. Schedule Critical path
  7. Primer to Good Schedule Integration
  8. Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
  9. Schedule Baseline Dilemma Part 1
  10. Schedule Baseline Dilemma Part 2
  11. 4D Scheduling Part 1: What is it about?
  12. 4D Scheduling Part 2
  13. 4D Scheduling Part 3
  14. Mega-Projects Schedule Management and Integration
  15. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Part 1
  16. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Part 2
  17. Your World, Our Risk Universe
  18. Rufran Frago in the Global Risk Community Site
PMSolutionPro

RISK RELATIVITY

Posted by PMSolutionPro Oct 24, 2016

For a thief, a good security system is a threat. To a security guard, that same system is an opportunity to lessen the risk of robbery and to increase the chance of catching the thieves.

A person’s perspective depends on which side of the fence he is sitting on. With that in mind, a risk can be a threat or an opportunity. Your business sees a threat and your competitor sees an opportunity. It is as simple as that.

Each individual player within the risk universe will see things a bit differently compared to the next person, with some people interpreting things in exactly the opposite fashion. In each case, the person can see only one attribute.

The simplistic objective point of view is that risk is either a threat or an opportunity, depending on the observer’s orientation to the goal.

If one sits on his most important goal and look at the potential risk, the resultant or prevailing consequence describes whether it is a threat or an opportunity.

Anyone who contemplate risk should consider that threats also bring with it opportunities and opportunities also brings threats.

These are underlining characteristics that all risk practitioners have to remind themselves always. Have you ever heard the saying, "every cloud has a silver lining"?

We can readily conclude that this tested adage found to be true for many centuries is actually a risk-based management concept.

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Figure 1 - Risk Universe

Now, if we could take an even more macroscopic view of the risk universe as an independent observer, we would be able to see risk from more than one perspective and gain a level of understanding that most of us never thought possible before - that risk is both a threat and an opportunity.

We can see both possibilities existing simultaneously. When we have no stake in the game¸ we can relate to both parties’ positions.

Risk is not absolute, but relative.

If one thinks about it a little deeper, the concept of risk becomes more evident. The risks of threat and opportunity are two sides of the same event. Obviously, events and objectives go hand in hand, as your objectives will depend on how you interpret events.

Using the set theory and imagining risk using a Venn diagram, one might imagine the concept of uncertainty as a big system where risk resides.

Given a singular risk that revolves around a given objective, considering a vast system called uncertainty, the probability of that risk is impossible to measure.

We can calculate the probability of an identified and specific risk because we can appreciate the uncertainty boundary (or field) where the risk lies.

The finite boundary (a small piece of the whole uncertainty system) relevant to the objective is the only useful element in appreciating that risk, a piece of mathematical uncertainty that has practical use. It is the kind of uncertainty with more reliable probabilistic basis.

We've all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, meaning that the perception of beauty is subjective. Similarly, perception of risk is subjective because it is relative. It depends on how one interprets a situation. Duality in this sense points to two kinds of perceptions rather than two intrinsic attributes in one.

 

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Many writers in the last few centuries have touched on the concepts of relativity and subjectivity when talking about how a person sees their surroundings.

Below, are some phrases about this, but it is up to you to make the comparison between these poetic relationships and people’s perceptions of risk. I thought it would be fun to inject risk’s syllogism and indirect association within some memorable quotes.

In 1588, the English dramatist John Lyly, in his Euphues and His England, wrote: "...as neere is Fancie to Beautie [RISK], as the pricke to the Rose, as the stalke to the rynde, as the earth to the roote."

Shakespeare expressed a similar sentiment in Love's Labours Lost, 1598. "Good Lord Boyet, my beauty [RISK], though but mean, / Needs not the painted flourish of your praise: / Beauty [RISK] is bought by judgment of the eye, / Not utter'd by base sale of chapmen's tongues."

Benjamin Franklin, in Poor Richard's Almanack, 1741, wrote, "Beauty [RISK], like supreme dominion is but supported by opinion."

David Hume's Essays, Moral and Political, 1742, includes the statement that "Beauty [RISK] in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them."

The person who is widely credited with coining the saying in its current form is Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (née Hamilton), who wrote many books, often under the pseudonym of 'The Duchess'.

In Molly Bawn (1878), readers will find the following line: "Beauty [RISK] is in the eye of the beholder (The Phrase Finder, 2015)."

Oftentimes, the discussion on subjects such as risk has a tendency to turn into something more esoteric.

When that happens, as a Risk Manager, we should appreciate the brilliance of some people’s individual premises, suppositions, commentaries, and conclusions, for they can add value and substance to what we already know.

 

 

Source: Frago, R. (2015). Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective. ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7 (Canada).Section 1.2

 

Rufran C. Frago – Author (First published in LinkedIn on 14-Oct-16)

 

 

Related sites:

 

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago:

  1. Phantom Schedules
  2. Man is the Center of the Risk Universe
  3. Project Schedule Baseline Top 10 Prerequisites
  4. Setting Critical Path
  5. Primer to Good Schedule Integration
  6. Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
  7. Schedule Baseline Dilemma Part 1
  8. Mega-Projects Schedule Management and Integration
  9. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Part 1
  10. Your World, Our Risk Universe

https://rufrancfrago.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/project-schedule-baseline-top-ten-prerequisites/

In a separate article titled Schedule Critical Path, I have pointed to four different settings (criteria) commonly used to calculate path criticality. These configurations and associated filters were supposed to be general knowledge to all planning and scheduling specialist and experts. However, this is an assumption that fails more than too often.

The reality of the matter is, more than a few have used the wrong schedule calculation settings and filters from day one. Unless persuaded to change, they will do so indefinitely.

Again, as in previous article, we refer to the primary path when talking about critical path unless specifically described as another.

The first one we will discuss is the longest path, followed by Total float equal or less than zero. Third on the line is the Path with the lowest Total Float (it can be positive, zero or negative), and last but not the least, one defined by the contract (the client’s definition of criticality or the “it depends” critical path).

Together, let us review how the Longest Path (LP) compares to the calculation using Total Float (TF). These are the two main approaches. Both represent the critical path and fundamentally cover how we would deal with the third and the fourth criteria.

 

Criteria 1: Critical Path is the Longest Path


A scheduling default and most commonly used critical path definition uses the longest path on the Schedule Option dialogue box. The Primavera scheduling tool can identify critical activities without specifying any total float value by merely saying “Yes” to the longest path filter and following additional setting prescribed by the tool.

It will identify the primary critical path from the last activity of the open schedule up to the earliest and back. The longest path is the longest path in the open schedule network from start to finish.

It is the path with the longest overall duration. Its duration is the project overall remaining duration.

Note the word “remaining.” If the project has not started yet, then the longest path is from the first activity to the last activity. If the activity has already started, the longest path is from the first remaining driving activity to the last activity.

LP is the path through the schedule network where total duration is greater than any other path.

 

Many planners and schedulers using Primavera do not know that they must follow a certain specific setting to identify the primary critical path when using the longest path as criteria

 

Continue reading by following the hyperlink below:

 

Setting the Critical Path

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/setting-critical-path-rufran-frago-p-eng-pmp-ccp-rmp-author?trk=pulse-det-nav_art

An overall project execution plan is still a puzzle at an early stage. It is looking for the right information to replace fuzzy data, seeking to fill in missing information. Major data points are still more of constraints and assumptions. Even the strategy revolves around certain objectives that are more political in nature than logic-based; fondly called economic dates and targets, backed by feasibility studies that are based mostly on assumptions.

When assumptions (fill-in information) and constraints are at it its peak, data maturity, and reliability are at their lowest.
The rule of thumb to follow: “Projects should not be sanctioned when the unknowns far exceed the known.”

The overall execution plan loses substance when important pieces are missing. It can also lose its essence when many smaller project elements are absent, through their cumulative effect.

Data maturity is a project attribute project managers have to deal with in some intelligent way. They seek to formulate a way to address missing and incomplete information and to strike a balance somehow. It is very risky trying to integrate a project with missing or incomplete work scope. Filling in an information space with assumed fill-in data is a risky trade-off.

Creating what-if scenarios and quantifying the trade-offs are two of the best approaches to come up with an intelligent decision. Through iterative simulations, the project will get some useful foresight. Note however, that this will not address project uncertainties but will only increase project awareness.

How can anyone integrate construction to engineering and commissioning & start-up to construction when information relating thereto are not yet in full view?

Figure 1 illustrates the general relationship between maturity, quality, and integration using time as backdrop (Frago, R., 2015. Risk-based Management: Data Maturity, Quality, and Project Integration). It is only a partial view of the whole project lifecycle but clearly demonstrates that data maturity increases through time. As the project moved to the right through the timeline, maturity summons quality to increase with the degree of integration improving as well.

At Gate 3 (G3), the EDS (Execution Baseline Schedule), Project Management Plan (some companies prefer to call it Project Execution Plan rather than the usual PMBOK terminology) have most of the necessary information. These include Risk Management Plan, Basis of Schedule, Execution Estimate, final revision of the Project Charter, Project Controls Plan, Basis of Schedule (BOS) and others. All project documents are expected to be ready for approval and final sanction.https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/shrinknp_800_800/AAEAAQAAAAAAAAZbAAAAJDY3YWRjNDM0LTFlZDYtNDE2MS1iNGZmLTgyODNhMjBjY2Q0OQ.jpg

Figure 1 - Integration, Quality and Data Maturity Chart (Frago, R., 2015)

Although distinctly different, the project is often times compared to a precious baby in development. Each stage during the pregnancy gives us a glimpse of the whole until final delivery. The project lifecycle is similar to the baby’s biological stages conceptually. Time dependent information comes naturally, dancing around the business beat.

Much like a forming fetus, no one can force a project to mature ahead of its time. Like everything else in this world, there is a place and time for everything. Picking the right place, the right time, and the right resources makes a project extremely successful. What is right shall depend on company objectives and risk appetite.

Quality is frequently a victim of time. Think about it. Try doing anything quicker than normal. What will happen to the quality of any endeavor compared to one given enough time? Right you are! We will see resources skipping steps, doing shortcuts, circumventing rules, violating regulations, lying, cheating, sugarcoating, and many others. The adverse consequences, to name a few includes reworks, higher safety incidents, project suspension, strikes, disputes, litigation, lay-offs, and bunches of other bad news. All these will potentially happen because quality has deteriorated.

A quality person probably coined the phrase, “Haste makes waste!”

We often see it. If you are a project person, you have seen that a project schedule (that is supposed to manage time), itself becomes the victim of time. The PC Manager barking his order with a glint of a measured warning in his eyes:

“The schedule is good enough. We need to submit it today before 12pm! Senior Leaders are meeting tomorrow. Fail to submit now and we all would be looking for another job next month.”

The project team must comprehend that the integrative requirement of the project depends on data/information maturity. Maturity spells identification, clarity, correct level of details and completeness. Maturity of work components should spell quality (with quality achieving at least the accepted minimum requirement of the organization). The sooner we fill in the blanks, the sooner we get going. The maturity point can be advanced through the Gates.

The quality of information is directly related to data maturity. It is a measure as to when certain information are acceptably ready. Reliability of work data increases through time and signals the right time for full integration (Figure 2). Reliability is a result of data maturity. Good integration results in an effective risk-based project execution, an execution that makes most sense.

While the acquisition of good quality information is always in progress, the risk specialist and each team member should strive to help the project manager identify and highlight critical elements needed for success. Always be reminded that risks must be identified first before they can be managed. Risks cannot be identified if no information or indicator relating thereto exists. Unknown risks cannot be managed.

https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/shrinknp_800_800/AAEAAQAAAAAAAAPfAAAAJGVmMGZjNTIzLWIyMzktNDY3OS1iMzI5LTFkNzlmZDM2NWY0ZA.jpgFigure 2 - Data Maturity, Risk, and Reliability (Frago, R., 2015)

It entails the integration of people, various resources, standards, procedures, work instructions, methodologies, and tools. All these practically revolve around collecting and collating data and turn them to something useful and actionable. It requires risk-based management maturity.

The measure of maturity and decisions pertaining thereto emanates from the leadership, from the project manager. The drive to reach that certain maturity point comes from the people running the project.

Pulling a project together while fulfilling certain prerequisites that satisfy required quality criteria, such that it passes each review gate, is a challenge and a commitment.

For example, to achieve full schedule integration, the project has to make sure scope in the schedule is complete to a level that permits effective control. Alignment between estimate, schedule, plans, and strategy should not be discounted. Violating these base requirements is an invitation for trouble.

Project Directors, Managers, Checkpoint Reviewers, and Project Specialists therefore; must be prudent when making a recommendation. It is imperative that each project player reconciles “success needs” with real and proper integration.

A good cue: Final project execution needs all project components at an acceptable level of quality and integration. This is mandatory for highly critical project components. Data maturity leads to integration that leads to effective execution (Figure 3).

https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/shrinknp_800_800/AAEAAQAAAAAAAAcKAAAAJGE1ZWQ5YjUzLWU2OWItNGE2OS05YmQ1LTRiZjdkZjU4MjUwMQ.jpgFigure 3 - Maturity, Integration and Execution Chart (Frago, R., 2015)

The temptation of going ahead with the project despite a deficient plan, an incomplete scope, numerous engineering holds, schedule disconnect, unusually high number of assumptions, problems, issues, and uncertainties is pervasive in the construction industry. A Project must beware when submissions of key deliverables starts to go out of sequence. Consider this one key risk indicator of potential troubles to come.

Whispers coming from several grapevines say that this is an attitude that exists and even flourishes during the glory days years past. It is wise therefore to be aware that the attraction to skate through, if not circumvent, requirements are challenges that can become more prevalent during an economic downturn such as what we have in 2008/2009 and what we have started to see now.

When company coffers are under stressed and start shelving projects, some bands of project people will actively want to push the project quickly through the checkpoint or gate processes, even prematurely, towards sanction. It is a nonchalant way of maintaining work security at company cost.

The outcome of such quick turnaround decisions is once the project is budgeted; risk is quickly realized. Real problem starts. Missing information starts coming out and invalidating major assumptions by the projects.

My recommendation: “When assumptions are greater than confirmed data, projects should tread cautiously and think twice before passing the Gate. When assumptions are far greater than what is known, a project should not even try to cross the Gate.”

To picture this advice, one just have to imagine a weighing scale. The left holds project assumptions and the right holds validated and approved information. If it is heavier on the left, projects should tread lightly while considering high risks. If it is way too heavy, the project is not qualified to cross the Gate.

Professionals are facing the ethical dilemma of a Go or No Go recommendation/decision daily. It is very easy to fool one self. After all, we are all only human and usually quite emotional.

Project Managers have a tendency to baby their projects and can certainly lose sight of what makes good sense. One has to learn to push back and ask discerning questions when big uncertainties surface.

A promise date (political date) must not solely drive project deliverables. A good balance must exist between quality of deliverables and commitment dates. A project specialist must stand up to his manager, the manager to his director, and if needed, the director to his vice-president for what is true and reasonable.


It is therefore important, in fact, an opportune time for all project team members to review their individual professional code of ethics as a personal reminder of what are at stake.

Rufran C. Frago - Author (100915)

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago:

  1. RBM: Data Maturity, Quality, and Project Integration
  2. Risks as a Function of Time
  3. Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
  4. Changing the Culture of Your Organization
  5. A Person Perceives Others Based on His Own Interest
  6. How Can Management Motivate and Empower?
  7. How Can Managers Increase Leadership Effectiveness
  8. Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 2
  9. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Directs or Indirects? Part 2
  10. Oil Price, Recession: Causes, Issues and Risks

ANNOUNCEMENT! The paperback and Kindle edition of the book "Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective" are now available. Please follow the hyperlinks for more information.

The book provides new/additional knowledge to project management practitioners (beginners to experts), risk management specialists, project controls people, estimators, cost managers, planners and schedulers, and for students of undergraduate courses in Risk Management.

The sectional contents offer practical and common sense approach to identifying/managing risks. It is a must have for company managers, directors, supervisors, aspiring industry professionals, and even those students fresh from high school. The material is especially design to start with the foundational principles of risk gradually bringing the reader to deeper topics using a conversational style with simple terminologies. Grab a copy now!

https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/shrinknp_800_800/AAEAAQAAAAAAAAYSAAAAJGYzNjJiMTFlLTQ1MzYtNDY3My05MTRlLTQ1NzhlYmM1ZDAxYg.jpg

https://youtu.be/wxWgYUhiWos

Source: Frago, R., 2015.Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective

https://www.amazon.com/author/rufrancfrago

One of the first quality items to check before approving the project execution schedule is schedule integration. Schedule integration calls for the most important fundamental criteria that need to come together for the project to be successful.

There is a world of difference between integrated and not integrated. Good integration results in intuitive, connected, or linked schedule. It translates to excellent management of time, cost, and risk. Other benefits are accurate calculation of critical path, resource requirements, and progress. It is a major ingredient to sound quantitative schedule risk analyses, helps project to communicate better, has positive effect on productivity, offers flexibility, and increases achievability. The project will potentially better the chances of meeting its most important objectives.

One of our scheduling gurus spreads his arms and said; “Yes my friend, pulling this schedule together is about quality and reliability through and through! (Figure 1)”

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Figure 1-Integration is About Schedule Quality and Reliability

On the other hand, the opposite of integration brings forth many risks, problems and issues with the schedule becoming counter-intuitive, disconnected, and disjointed. It becomes more of an input than of an output. It becomes manually taxing and inconvenient, a communication tool that seldom tells the truth. In some cases, the schedule becomes the subject of contempt and blame.

 

Developing an integrated schedule needs to be approached with some serious planning. In this article, I would like to share with you the following attributes of a good integrated schedule. Consider these the requisites of integration. Note that the tool of choice in this scenario is Oracle Primavera Project Management.

 

The rule of “SAME”

  1. Same scheduling tool
  2. Same database
    • All schedules are in the same database
  3. Same (common) work environment
    • All Users in the same work space. Concurrent over standalone is preferred. Standalone set up should not be allowed (if possible).
  4. Same schedule level
    • The level of the interconnected driving details are the same (Figure 3). The lowest level activities should drive. If a schedule has three levels like Level 1, 2 and 3, with Level 1 as the highest level,   level 3 must drive.
    • The phase's level of definitions are the same
    • Although it is possible to connect a level 2 to a level 3, or a level 3 to the highest level, the schedule is bound to lose some substance. Reflect the Level 3 components as summaries into which the Level 4 rolls up.
  5. Same scheduling tool configuration: calculation settings for floats, critical path, calendars, and others
  6. Same standard coding dictionary
    1. Global codes; e.g. activity codes, calendars and resources

 

Passes the Inverted Triangle Test

  1. Conduct an inverted triangle test; i.e. check that the overall schedule has a single point start date and a single point end date. It points to the overall schedule activity network prevailing triangular shape when simplified (Figure 2). This can be viewed using the tool’s PERT View.

https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/shrinknp_800_800/AAEAAQAAAAAAAAJDAAAAJGQyNDQ3MWUxLWQzOWQtNGRiZC1iYjZiLTNiMmY0NmI5NWIyNA.jpg

Figure 2-Inverted Triangle TestThe rule of “LESS”

 

 

  1. Less assumptions more facts
  2. Less number of activities, more substance
    • Activities roll up to summary level automatically
      • Level 3 rolls up to Level 2
      • Level 4 rolls up to Level 3
Avoid linking different level activities unless for roll up purposes whenever possible. For example: linking Level 3 activities to a successor Level 1 activity might result in the logic losing substance. It can also result in the possible omission of some scopes.

 

Exercise caution in linking lowest level activities to the higher-level activities and vice versa, most especially if still unfamiliar with the schedule scope.https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/shrinknp_800_800/AAEAAQAAAAAAAAZEAAAAJGVlOGUzOGRlLTNhMTctNDkwMy04ZDU2LWY0NjhhZWZhNjcwOA.jpg

Figure 3-Connect Same Level Activities to Drive the ScheduleThe rule of “HAS”

  1. Has documented basis of schedule
  2. Has undergone interactive planning with stakeholders
  3. Has CORRECT resources and loaded quantity
      • Resource load the overall EPC/S execution schedule
      • Achievable: Check schedule achievability (dependent on a schedule containing all the scope)
      • Clear: Check schedule logic and sequence
      • Complete EPC/S scope: Check completeness of schedule scope. Has the project finalized the scope? Is the current scope the same as the last Gate’s scope? Check schedule content (dependent on a schedule containing all the scope)
      • Has the correct level of definition: Check schedule level of definition (also dependent on a schedule containing all the scope)
      • Has accurate information: Check schedule accuracy. It follows the plan and strategy. It is good to check the basis of schedule and the execution plan.
      • No stow away or unwanted scope incorporated into the schedule
      • Makes sense: Passed common sense test

 

   4. Has passed accepted minimum quality criteria/metrics   5. Has team buy in: Approved schedule for the specific gate   6. Has sound logic   7. Has identified risks: Risk-based schedule The rule on “ALIGNMENT”

      1. Aligned to the plan
      2. Aligned to the frozen estimate
      3. Aligned to the objective
            • Objective driven:
            • Downstream drives upstream; e.g. construction drives engineering, modularization drives engineering, and construction drives procurement

 

Small size sustaining and capital projects of up to US$ 50 Million dollars might not experience the same challenges that of integrating bigger, more complex schedules. Medium to mega-projects of One hundred ($100 M) Million US dollars to greater than one ($1 B) Billion US dollars have big hurdles to make by sheer size. 

The size attributes directly influence costs, volume of commodities, and resources. Projects like that becomes a daunting hurdle because even the sub-projects of a mega-project are quite significant. Sub-project accounting for several hundred million up to more than a billion dollar is common.

 

The only solution to big sub-projects is to divide them again into manageable work areas or sub-sub projects. Dividing the schedule into smaller pieces does not mean the pieces should remain disconnected. On the contrary, the more they need to integrate. If they are poorly integrated, chances of project failure increase. Integration helps align achievability of each sub-project or silo, making the interphase point more reliable.Sources:Frago, R. (2015). Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective.pages 182-200. ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7Frago, R. (2015). How to Create A Good Quality P50 Risk-based Baseline Schedule (Draft Manuscript).pages 2-3, 43-50, and 93-100. ISBN 978-0-9947608-1-4Rufran C. Frago – Author (090115)

 

Other articles authored by Rufran Frago:

  1. Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 1
  2. Risks as a Function of Time
  3. Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
  4. Changing the Culture of Your Organization
  5. A Person Perceives Others Based on His Own Interest
  6. How Can Management Motivate and Empower?
  7. How Can Managers Increase Leadership Effectiveness
  8. Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 2
  9. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Directs or Indirects? Part 2
  10. Oil Price, Recession: Causes, Issues and Risks

 

You will find a more detailed discussion about the subject article in the paperback edition of the book "Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective." It is also available in Amazon’s Kindle edition.

 

The book provides new/additional knowledge to project management practitioners (beginners to experts), risk management specialists, project controls people, estimators, cost managers, planners and schedulers, and for students of undergraduate courses in Risk Management.

The sectional contents offer practical and common sense approach to identifying/managing risks. It is a must have for company managers, directors, supervisors, aspiring industry professionals, and even those students fresh from high school. The material is especially design to start with the foundational principles of risk gradually bringing the reader to deeper topics using a conversational style with simple terminologies. Check it out!

 

https://youtu.be/wxWgYUhiWos

 

https://www.amazon.com/author/rufrancfrago

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093015-PRM, Data Maturity6.jpg

 

Chapter 9-Project Integration of my recently published book Risk-management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective discusses the challenges that many Project Managers are facing. One item that throws many to fits is project integration. It is a requirement in varying level of complexities to all projects. Some have successfully toe the line but many just fall off the wagon.

 

Integration happens throughout the project lifecycle using continuous collaboration. It becomes a big challenge to project professionals who do not have enough experience but especially true to managers handling large projects with multiple areas or multiple project portfolios.

 

Integration is similar to you and I having all our limbs, eyes, head, body, ears, etc. attached to us, functioning systematically to finish our chores. It is one essential criteria leading to success which many struggles with, an effort of pulling the project together to make a coherent whole. 

 

One criteria leading to success which many struggles with, is pulling the project together to make a coherent whole.

 

The difficulty starts with the challenge of reconciling project decision maker’s own understanding of what integration entails. What does it really means. What it is all about?

 

What information does the project need provide at each Gate to build the final project execution plan required before sanction? Primer to Good Schedule Integration puts this requirement into perspective.

 

Metaphorically speaking, it is like asking the question “Should we pass Gate 2 (DBM) with just the head, an eye, an ear, and a lower limb.”

 

It still surprises me that in the more than three decades I've worked in the industry, there are still team members in every project who are not fully aware that integration is highly dependent on data/information maturity. While everyone goes about their activity semi-consciously in any particular phase and stage, the idea of data maturity and its relationship with integration remains vague to lots of project people.

 

A poorly integrated execution plan will result in surprises, potentially resulting in project failure much like a collapsed structure brought about by missing fasteners (Figure 1).


100915-Data Maturity, Quality, Integration1.jpg

Figure 1-Poor Project Integration like a Tower with Loose or Missing Fasteners

 

Most concerning is when Project Leaders and Managers exhibit the symptoms. Clueless, it tags along with them like their favorite pet every time. They amazingly could not put their fingers on it or perhaps, intentionally refusing to accept. The sad part of the story are the consequences their decisions will make, omissions they will soon regret.

Here are some examples of project professional freely speaking their views. You probably heard them yourselves somewhere. Read and reflect...

 

“I know that a schedule risk analysis is required to pass the gate but we have no more time. If you ask me, I have this strong gut feel that two weeks schedule contingency is more than enough.”

 

“Don’t worry about that missing scope. It is not a problem. We can use any believable assumption just to fill the gap. That should do it so we can get the bridge budget we need.”

 

“Keep your mouth shut and follow my lead. That’s what you need to do. This deliverable is not a big deal and should not affect the project’s end goal.”


“Not to worry. We’ll prepare a management of change notice and shoulder the risk involved.”

 

“We have to produce something from nothing. This is why we are here for.”

 

“We can actually do it our way and the office boys can plan and schedule later. What say you?”

 

“Project Auditors are too bookish. Why keep looking for something that is not there to fail us.  Why not let us pass this Gate and we will complete this gate requirement on the next Gate. That sounds reasonable, right?”

 

“The amount of time that one has to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task. We will finish when we are done. Parkinson law should set these governance people straight! Why ask for something not available at this Gate?”

 

A huge chunk of information is usually not yet available during the Initiating/Scoping and DBM (G2) phase. Good integration is impossible at such an early stage unless it is an exact replica of a previous project. As for the schedule, a poorly integrated schedule will not show the real critical path giving a wrong handle to the team.

Situation like these are to be expected upstream of the project lifecycle (first two Gates) but should be addressed as red flags approaching EDS. Otherwise, with stringent auditors at the Gate, the project should not pass. 

Consider the aforementioned statements from any of your leader, manager, director, and team member as risk indicators. It practically draws more or less a clear picture of what lies ahead. Of course, depending on the specifics of the situation, although the statements are generally unacceptable, some of these statements can actually be taken as normal.

 

The logic is simple.

Combination of maturity, quality, and integration is the lifeblood of a workable and successful overall execution plan.


Note: This article was first published in Linkedin Pulse on October 10, 2015.

 

Rufran C. Frago-Author (100915)

 

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago:

  1. Risks as a Function of Time
  2. Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
  3. Changing the Culture of Your Organization
  4. A Person Perceives Others Based on His Own Interest
  5. How Can Management Motivate and Empower?
  6. How Can Managers Increase Leadership Effectiveness
  7. Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 2
  8. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Directs or Indirects? Part 2
  9. Oil Price, Recession: Causes, Issues and Risks

 

ANNOUNCEMENT! The paperback and Kindle edition of the book "Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective" are now available.
Please follow the hyperlinks for more information.


The book provides new/additional knowledge to project management practitioners (beginners to experts), risk management specialists, project controls people, estimators, cost managers, planners and schedulers, and for students of undergraduate courses in Risk Management.

 

The sectional contents offer practical and common sense approach to identifying/managing risks. It is a must have for company managers, directors, supervisors, aspiring industry professionals, and even those students fresh from high school. The material is especially design to start with the foundational principles of risk gradually bringing the reader to deeper topics using a conversational style with simple terminologies. Grab a copy now.

 

https://youtu.be/wxWgYUhiWos

 

062215-Book Cover (Hero) Small 1.jpg

Source: Frago, R., 2015.Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective

081915-POBS1.jpg

Point of Concern


This problem is at it again. This POBS issue keeps coming back even after periodic cleanups of the database table they are populating. It has affected our P6 User’s productivity, wasting people’s time as they wait for the process to complete. One Primavera Users complained that it is like eternity looking at the time capsule. Adding to their stress are those PC Managers and Project Managers who are already hammering the table for a schedule report, whatever that might be.

.

Just very recently, a couple of P6 Users were complaining that the exported XER seems to be unusually too big; ranging from 18MB to 29 MB for what should be just a moderately sized project of about 4000 to 6000 activities. They noticed an acute slowness to the export and import process. I contacted five of my planning and scheduling peers in the construction industry. They have also encountered the same problem in the last six months.


Generated Risks


Some of the risks on the horizon if the POBS issue remained unresolved. 


      . Medium probability of unproductive period, by not only the P6 Users directly affected but some other members of the project team, and those relying on the scheduling output required

  • Low to medium probability of contractual dispute due to decision delays contributing to overall project or a specific work package delay
  • Medium probability of additional project and support cost due to inefficiency or wasted work hours
  • Medium probability of reputational risk as client and operational partner; due to review cancelation, unavailable and/or delayed reports, erroneous reports due to haste, slow turnaround, indecisiveness, and similar others

 

081915-POBS2.jpg


They asked, “Are these to be considered normal occurrences?” They surely do not look like it.

 

The question is this. Is there a way of automatically preventing these Performing Organizational Breakdown Structure (POBS) from being exported into the database? Is there an auto-screening feature that will prevent them from coming in? Note that modifying the import configuration will not prevent the POBS from getting in.


POBS Background

 

The POBS was created in the Primavera days for some functionality that was never implemented. The table was not removed from P6 up to now so it sits, like the human appendix (a useless and unwanted appendage) until it goes wrong (3rd Party Contractor, 2015).

 

Primavera did not implement the functions related to POBS table. The table will probably be removed some future release. Primavera Version 6.7 has it. I have not used any of the higher versions, so I would like to ask those who have: do you still have this problem? Was the issue resolved on later versions such as V8.0, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.x? 15.0?

 

Can anyone confirm that it was resolved after V6.7? I have not come across this issue on lower version such as V6.1, and V6.2. It would be appreciated if I get some feedbacks on this. It looks to me that it has not been resolved yet even with the higher versions.


What do these Primavera User’s need?


P6 Users need to have an effective final solution to resolve the issue, including how to avoid the same issue in the future.


Final Solution Applied:


We’ve tried at least two other methods of dealing with the POBS issue but none as effective as the one I am going to share with you. We will go straight to the solution.

 

Since we can all agree that it is not a good idea for P6 Users messing around with XER files (and they are huge, which means that editing them in a text editor is almost impossible) using backdoor access, we accepted our third party contractor's proposal of implementing a simple application tool (small script). The small program fundamentally replicates what the Oracle Knowledgebase recommended but merely automating it. The tool cleans the stowaway POBS elements from the XERs. It runs in memory and makes a duplicate of the XER with the extension –clean. The users can then import the clean XER to the destination database.


If you are your companies Primavera Administrator, it is best to instruct all your Users to use and run the tool against the subject XER before import and after export.

 

I have tested it and it works. Again, it is still the solution offered by Oracle but packaged and presented in a more acceptable way. It was made available to the P6 Users to activate and clean instead of relying on the IS/IT support person who has special access. It works simply by a click of a button.

It is safe to use because it does not remove any essential schedule attributes except the unwanted POBS elements. The tool is a great relief to the Users who can now import XERs with the POBS records removed. It is much faster than importing one with large POBS entries, so the one to two minutes taken to run the POBS Cleaner will save 15 to 20 minutes, or even almost an hour of import and export time. This is not to mention the probability of import and export failure after waiting so long. Based on the test I conducted, it can actually reduce a 29MB XER file to just 1MB and less (96% file size reduction), or a 12MB file to just 47KB (99% file size reduction). This is almost preposterous! What is great about this is that it addresses the issue right away and the tool’s icon is available in a common work environment.

 

A second layer preventive measure recommended against the same issue from occurring again, is the implementation of a P6 job service feature in all your scheduling databases that trims the POBS table once per day or once per week on a nightly basis.


So, are we good? I believe that this article closes the chapter on POBS for now. Until next time...


DISCLAIMER:

 

The Author acknowledges that no joint venture, employment representation, or agency, relationship exists between him and any manufacturer/supplier mentioned in this article.

 

Rufran C. Frago - Author (081915)

 

Other articles authored by Rufran Frago:

 

  1. Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 1
  2. Risks as a Function of Time
  3. Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
  4. Changing the Culture of Your Organization
  5. A Person Perceives Others Based on His Own Interest
  6. How Can Management Motivate and Empower?
  7. How Can Managers Increase Leadership Effectiveness
  8. Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 2
  9. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Directs or Indirects?
    Part 2

 

ANNOUNCEMENT!

 

The paperback and Kindle edition of the book "Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective" are now available. Please follow the hyperlinks for more information.

 

http://www.amazon.com/RUFRAN-C.-FRAGO-PMI-RMP/e/B01055MPYI

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0104OFUDI/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

https://www.amazon.com/author/rufrancfrago

 

The book provides new/additional knowledge to project management practitioners (beginners to experts), risk management specialists, project controls people, estimators, cost managers, planners and schedulers, and for students of undergraduate courses in Risk Management. The sectional contents offer practical and common sense approach to identifying/managing risks. It is a must have for company managers, directors, supervisors, aspiring industry professionals, and even those students fresh from high school. The material is especially design to start with the foundational principles of risk gradually bringing the reader to deeper topics using a conversational style with simple terminologies. So, if you are interested, check it out!

 

https://youtu.be/wxWgYUhiWos

 

Source: Frago, R., 2015.Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective

 

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https://www.amazon.com/author/rufrancfrago