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

Integrated assessment of a schedule is a must! Proper schedule risk quantification requires an integration that has all the needed elements under consideration. All activities have to be part of the same deterministic network during the calculation, with all essential and correct relationships preserved.

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 time and risk analysis calculations to be erroneous. The greater the number of open-ends, the more unreliable the result of quantification becomes. An open-end is an indication of 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 in such a way so that they are represented well in the model. Otherwise, the analyst must bring all the external schedules into the same scheduling database and EPS structure, connected by logical links and opened as one schedule.

To achieve full schedule integration required in schedule quantification, the risk analyst has no better means but uses logical hard links between relevant project activities. It is the only effective way to ensure that the calculation of critical path 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 coming up with “what you see is what you get” quality.

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 have to remind ourselves that having another scope somewhere 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 person only thinks a little more in-depth about it, it can be challenging and sometimes overwhelming, a counter-productive approach, and a dangerous position to have.

Rufran C. Frago is the Founder of PM Solution Pro, a Calgary consultingproduct, and training services firm focusing on project and business management solutions. He is passionate providing advice, mentorship, education and training through consultation, collaboration, and what he uniquely calls, student-led training.


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