CPM SCHEDULING – BEST PRACTICE

by Raquel Shohet

Standardized, Routine, and Purposeful Schedule Updates can make the difference between a smooth running project and one that is full of surprises. Schedule updates, whether weekly or monthly, should follow certain guidelines to ensure their success in defining the projects current status from week to week or month to month. Once instituted, the schedule update process should occur in a consistent time frame to allow planning by the parties involved. This makes it a part of a weekly or monthly routine and can encourage participation and raise expectations among the participants. With a planned agenda, the update will run smoothly and the information gathered will increase the project team’s awareness of the current state of the project and highlight the impacts of any known issues on the project’s planned completion.

SET UP THE PRACTICE

1. Standardize the Process: this leads to project success because it reduces errors; everyone involved knows what is expected; and they realize the value of a coordinated effort.

    a. Participants should include the PM, Superintendant and Subcontractors. This is important because each sub can see the impact of their progress on other trades.
    b. Define the order of the update process so that no area is left out. A good practice for this is to just start at the top of the project schedule and go through each area. If all current subcontractors are there you can organize it by trade or sub and update them individually.
    c. Ask questions regarding what was or was not accomplished. If activities are taking longer or have not started when they should, question why, are there issues? If there are determine if a delay/issue activity should be inserted to project the next couple of weeks activities.
    d. Review the progress with all project team members and discuss the critical path. Whose work is critical and are there any related activities that could impact it. If the project is behind, what can be accomplished to recover time?
    e. Verify the field staff knows where the critical path is and what to be concentrating on as the schedule is dynamic and any changes can have an impact, good or bad.

2. Routine Updates: Weekly updates are best because the information is fresh you can monitor progress more closely and identify potential issues sooner. Setup a standing day and time for the project team to come together. We can function more efficiently if we can anticipate what is expected and be prepared to participate. If the project is only updated monthly there will be more preparation necessary by all parties to ensure the meeting runs efficiently and timely.

3. Purposeful Updates: Document the update in writing. Although the schedule itself is documentation of the current state of the project, it is often made clearer if it is put in to writing. One way of documenting weekly updates is an Executive Summary. Identify in writing whether the project maintained, lost, or gained on critical path progress. This will give you an at-a-glance view of how the project is progressing. You should also include a section to discuss any issues that are impacting or may impact the critical path. You should only discuss those issues related to the critical path to keep the summary brief. This Best Practice allows project executives and team to stay current on the project’s status, as it reports on a high level, one page summary following each update. This is a quick and easy synopsis of project health, critical issues and potential problems and allows the project team and/or owner to know what to expect.

Setting up a standardized process for weekly updates will improve both the quality and time it takes to accomplish an update. Making the update a routine will help to ensure everyone is prepared and knows where an when it will take place. By putting the critical schedule update information in writing, it solidifies the purpose of the update and makes it useful in managing the progress and identifying any potential or ongoing issues.

You may contact Raquel directly if you have questions at (702) 212-7430 or info@pcigrp.com.

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