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)”
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”
- Same scheduling tool
- Same database
- All schedules are in the same database
- 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).
- 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.
- Same scheduling tool configuration: calculation settings for floats, critical path, calendars, and others
- Same standard coding dictionary
- Global codes; e.g. activity codes, calendars and resources
Passes the Inverted Triangle Test
- 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.
Figure 2-Inverted Triangle TestThe rule of “LESS”
- Less assumptions more facts
- 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.
Figure 3-Connect Same Level Activities to Drive the ScheduleThe rule of “HAS”
- Has documented basis of schedule
- Has undergone interactive planning with stakeholders
- 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”
- Aligned to the plan
- Aligned to the frozen estimate
- 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:
- Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 1
- Risks as a Function of Time
- Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
- Changing the Culture of Your Organization
- A Person Perceives Others Based on His Own Interest
- How Can Management Motivate and Empower?
- How Can Managers Increase Leadership Effectiveness
- Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 2
- Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Directs or Indirects? Part 2
- 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!