- Problem Definition
“In my experience on ‘mega-projects’ the purpose of having a single location for all this information is to provide senior stakeholders with confidence that the project was progressing. Additionally it provides statistics e.g. the number of milestones achieved compared to the number that remained that can be used to demonstrate the overall status.
2. Identify the Feasible Alternative
The primary question when looking at collating and consolidating multiple schedules is to understand what is intended to be achieved. On a mega-project it is usually to provide an overall understanding of how the project is going to be delivered. In many cases it’s a mechanism to bring together all the detailed information in one place. This information can then be used to generate summary information or reports which are reviewed and presented at various forums.
3. Development of the Outcome for Alternative
Fundamentally in order to successfully achieve schedule integration there needs to be the following:
- A structure
- A set of rules
- ‘Policing’ of the rules
- Selection of Criteria
So firstly, the structure should be the hierarchy of the areas, functions or work streams and based on the project delivery strategy. Within each part of the hierarchy there needs to be a set of activities that are logically linked with checkpoints and milestones at the appropriate points.
Secondly, the rules should include:
- An identification of which area the schedule is from i.e. a code relating to the individual schedules;
- A data dictionary that identifies what information is required in which fields (and relevant to which scheduling tool you are using);
- A definition of the entry / exit criteria for the milestones or deliveries so that there is consistency when marking milestones complete;
- The limitations and boundaries of what can and can’t be changed (and who should review and approve it) which is a combination of configuration control and change control.
- The cycle for maintenance and reporting or ‘business rhythm’.
These rules should be established as early on as possible and more importantly communicated to across the’ mega-project’ teams. They should be easy to understand and apply.
- Analysis of the Alternative.
- The most significant benefit to an organization for an integrated schedule is the increased visibility of the projects data. This allows for summaries to be generated from a single location so it can be quicker to identify areas that are not aligned or builds confidence that the work is being completed as scheduled.
- Organizations also can run audits across the schedule to identify errors or anomalies so benefit from having the data in a single location because it potentially reduces the number of times you would need to run the check.
- Due to the discipline required for schedule integration the end result is likely to be more consistent across the different areas of the project.
- Schedule Integration allows for interfaces and dependencies to be shown across the different components.
- Schedule Integration provides the project with continuity when the individual team members change, which is a high probability when a project runs over multiple years.
- There is more preparation time required when collating the individual schedules in order to meet the required standards. This additional time should be allowed for when determining the update cycle.
- Potentially there could be too much data to be able to identify the real issues – the focus could be more on the quantity of information i.e. milestone achieved rather than what the milestones are providing in way of progress.
- The policing approach could be seen to drive a ‘box’ ticking mentality rather than addressing the schedule issues as the focus could be on the completion of the standards rather than what it is actually informing the teams.
- With the details included in the integrated schedule there needs to be a simple way of summarizing or filtering to show more manageable levels or else it could become unwieldy.
- Additional information is required to be stored to ensure that when team members change the assumptions and basis of the schedule is not lost.
- Selection of the Preferred Alternative.
I think it’s fair to say that there are instances when an integrated schedule can be beneficial to an organization because the project has resulted in a successful delivery with thousands of lines in an integrated schedule. The key to handling large quantities of data is to ensure that you have the required skills within the team to ensure that it doesn’t become out of control.
7. Performance Monitoring and the Post Evaluation of Result.
As we need to monitor the project, the important point is to remember that it’s best to agree from the start whether the scale of information gathered can be constructively used as this will avoid the debate of ‘quantity’ versus ‘quality’ in the schedules.
- Catalyst Consulting Team (2005, May). Figure.1: Tuckman’s model. Retrieved June 6, 2014, from http://www.catalystonline.com/wpcontent/uploads/2010/11/Catalyst_Desk_Ref.jpg
- Donald Clark (2002, January). Survey: what stage is Your Team In? Retrieved June 6, 2014, from http://www.cscaweb.org/EMS/sector_team/support_files/tools_for_the_team/tool_stage.pdf
3. Alleman, G. B. (2004, January). Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Retrieved June 6, 2014, from http://www.niwotridge.com/PDFs/FormStormNormPerform.pdf