What is the Purpose of a Phantom Schedule?

A client or contractor may develop it individually with each one, believing that it is more reliable than the current official schedule and/or the existing baseline.

Construction contractor can come up with a more aggressive version of the contractual schedule to create some form of relief time zones. It creates some form of time buffer zones by using earlier schedule plan dates. The sub-contractor then sign on a more optimistic schedule with the contractor.

The contractor hides the already optimistic phantom schedule for background update. At this point, and just on the contractor-subcontractor side alone, there are already four schedules at play and being maintained separately; i.e. 1) subcontract schedule, 2) subcontract phantom schedule, 3) contractor phantom schedule, and 4) contract schedule.

A recent technical article rightly stated the same thing, that one of the reasons why a phantom schedule is developed is “when the client no longer has any faith that the contractor’s contract schedule submittals are realistic (Beisler, S. & Zack, J., 2016.Cost Engineering. May\Jun 2016. p21).

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The Phantom Schedule

A phantom schedule (ghost schedule) is a non-official schedule prepared behind the official scheduling scene. The timing of its creation can be anywhere between project start date to completion. The urgency governing its creation depends largely on the specific purpose and necessity to which it was created.

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The Three Blind Project Managers and the Elephant

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.

There is an old tale about the three blind men who encountered an elephant for the first time and attempt to learn about it by touch alone. Somehow, I am now tempted to change the story to the three blind project managers who encountered risk for the first time and attempted to learn about it.

The story about the three project managers and a project is like the story of Jain’s parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant. The parable is quite relevant to what we are discussing here.

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