Why conduct an Integrated Schedule Analysis? Do your projects need one?

Integrated assessment of a schedule is a must! Good integration is impossible amidst poor quality information. Achieving the desired level of execution quality at an early stage is next to impossible unless it is an exact replica of a previous project, a cookie-cutter project. This writeup will help you appreciate the importance of schedule integration through out the project’s phases. Understanding that proper integration is one of schedule’s best quality attributes. Implementing the practice will surely lead to better project results. Reflect on your own professional experience about plan and schedule integration and you’ll realize quickly that integration is needed for all project management elements to communicate properly and prevent the project from falling apart.

Schedule Integration

A poorly integrated schedule will not show the real critical path, perhaps showing the wrong management handle to the team.

Schedule Quantitative Risk Analysis requires a properly integrated schedule with all the needed elements. All considered activities must be part of the same deterministic network with all important and correct relationships preserved during the iterative calculation.

How to tell a schedule lacks of integration?

One significant indicator that a schedule lacks integration is the presence of external links. If you find an external link, it signifies a separate network of activities lying outside the realm of your schedule risk model. As much as possible, all the interconnected schedules are present or represented in the integrated model.

Another indicator is the presence of open ends. Open ends, such as missing predecessors and successors, cause wrong time and risk analysis calculations. The greater the number of open ends, the more unreliable the result of quantification becomes. An open-end indicates missing scope, incomplete or missing planning inputs. All open ends must be re-tied properly.

If it is impossible to bring all scopes under one schedule, the external link must be understood to represent them well in the model. Otherwise, the analyst must get all the external schedules into the same scheduling database and EPS structure, connected by logical links and opened as one schedule.

Integrating Interdependent Projects

To achieve the full schedule integration involving multiple interdependent projects required in performing Schedule Quantitative Risk Analysis, the analyst has no better means but to use logical hard links between relevant project activities. It is the only effective way to ensure calculation of the critical paths in the schedule remains possible and reliable.

Project managers have to find a method of doing away with the time-consuming collection of data from many fronts by offering a shared database of information and the same scheduling environment to their contractors and clients. Working on the same platform and having a shared database is the best practice in developing “what you see is what you get” quality.

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Cover arts from Pexels.com.2023.Free Pictures

Without established relationships crossing individual and separated project schedules or work scopes, what could have been a fast and accurate identification of critical works becomes manual, tedious, and lengthy, if not impossible.

We also must remind ourselves that having another scope in another schedule is time-consuming, confusing, introduces inaccuracies, and is comparable to using another application. Such a situation can easily lead to the difficult task of managing two versions of the truth.

As there are no direct links between projects and sub-projects, it is most likely that each one has a different data date due to a different update cycle.

Know that all projects and sub-projects must have the same data date before calculating the schedule (F9) to derive critical paths and floats. The more significant the difference between data dates, the higher the chance of errors and inaccuracies. If a project professional ignores such simple yet crucial variances, the result will be misleading, counter-productive, and can promote project failure.

The correctness, accuracy, completeness, and usefulness of a Schedule Quantitative Risk Analysis (SQRA) depends heavily on the quality of planning data used for input or, plainly, the quality of the project schedule. A good quality schedule brings about good, and reliable quantitative results. Good quality begets good project management that begets good results.

Consequences of a Poor-quality Schedule

The consequences of a poor-quality schedule are practically endless. If unaddressed, the schedule remains counter-intuitive, disconnected, or disjointed, resulting in poor project control.

Low quality produces a flawed schedule not fit for quantitative risk analysis, producing incorrect probability calculations. It will also most likely generate the wrong critical path, influencing the project to focus on the wrong activities and priorities.

Miscommunication and communication breakdown are two known consequences. A schedule with a missing scope is inaccurate representation of the project and will aggravate the problems caused by missing inputs, both to the plan and the schedule. The recycling of wrong and missing information is an issue that management should prevent.

A poorly developed schedule hurts work productivity. It goes against achievability. Forecast becomes less predictable. Condoning a deficient schedule is the wrong planning and scheduling strategy, producing unclear results and unfulfilled expectations because the project team loses the opportunity to manage the project better.

The Project Delivery Model

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.

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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.

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.

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., 2022.Simple Guide to Understanding Planning and Scheduling Process Through the Project Gates

Deltek Acumen Fuse Toolset

Some years back, I came across the Deltek Acumen Fuse toolset. This excellent application has the capability to inspect the project schedule’s degree of integration. Fuse can handle the quality assessment of portfolio projects periodically with ease.

We have analyzed a portfolio of 50 to 75+ projects every month for a year with ease. It typically takes us an hour or so to complete all of them. This kind of assessment will take several days if done through Primavera P6 manually or some semi-automatic means. PM Solution Pro have not used any other application that comes close to Acumen Fuse.

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Cover arts by PM Solution Pro, copyright 2018

The tool is capable of using any acceptable industrial metrics like DCMA-14, GAO, or a customized in-house metric of your choice. It is great for a project that has several associated schedules to monitor and assess. Finally, owning Fuse creates a knowledge set and expertise that became invaluable to our clients as they brought it into their tool arsenal.

Source: Frago, R. (2017). Schedule Quantitative Risk Analysis (Traditional Method).ISBN 978-0-9947608-3-8.Canada

Do you want to know more about Fuse?

If you are seriously interested in how the tool works in your special case, contact us and we will arrange a demonstration with no strings attached. Getting inputs from Tool Users like us will make you appreciate more. Call PM Solution Pro at 587-899-1202 or send us an e-mail at [email protected].

Once you are sure that you intend to include it in your toolbox, PM Solution Pro can also help you put your Business Case together. We can guide you. How about that?

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  1. Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective.ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7.Canada
  2. Plan to Schedule, Schedule to Plan.ISBN 978-0-9947608-2-1.Canada
  3. How to Create a Good Quality P50 Risk-based Baseline Schedule.ISBN 978-0-9947608-1-4.Canada
  4. Schedule Quantitative Risk Analysis (Traditional Method).ISBN 978-0-9947608-3-8.Canada
  5. RISK, What are you? The Risk Manager’s Poem: Children’s Book for all Professionals.ISBN 978-0-9947608-4-5 (Canada)

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