“I’ve been using my scheduling tool for years. I know critical path method inside out, and I’ve built and managed numerous major schedules. So why would I need to attend a scheduling best practice training course?”
Good scheduling professionals may have the above mindset – and rightly so. They have learned by experience to operate very effectively without the need for formal training in scheduling best practice guidelines. They may not even know they exist. They are fully proficient with their scheduling tool and all the nuances of critical path method.
However, they are often sheltered from the need to formally study industry standard best practices because they work in an industry that doesn’t fall under the scrutiny of some third party schedule audits. For example, if a scheduler works for a private construction company, they may not be required to meet certain scheduling standards that a contractor to local or federal government entities is routinely required to comply with. And they don’t feel the need to study such techniques because, after all, they are perfectly capable of building effective schedules that get the job done.
You Don’t Need Scheduling Best Practice Knowledge – Until You Do!
Then, one day, your company wins a local government contract and the schedule you submit comes back at you covered in red ink, accompanied by a list of required remedies. What you thought was a good schedule suddenly isn’t. Government contracts often have a list of stipulations about the scheduling software you must use, and a number of restrictions about the use of constraints, types of network logic allowed and other limitations that the schedule must adhere to. Suddenly you’re in uncharted waters.
In our capacity as a consulting and training organization, we help many customers who are new to the government contracting world. Unfortunately, we often first hear from them when their schedule has already been rejected by their customer and a long list of requested remedies has instigated a new scheduling paradigm. This sucks for a number of reasons, not least of which is your customer’s perception of the company’s scheduling capabilities, which they may now be questioning. This unfairly reflects poorly on otherwise excellent schedulers who just didn’t know how “they” wanted it done. So how good is your scheduling best practice understanding?
Are you familiar with the term High Float? How about the term High Duration? Do you know what the general parameters are in determining these conditions? Would you know what to look for if someone told you to correct activities that have invalid dates? These are just some very common poor practice conditions that even experienced schedulers may not know to look out for when building a schedule. If the government is your customer, and you didn’t check for these conditions before submitting your schedule, you will likely fail their initial assessment.
Here are some very real and very typical examples of remedies that some of our customers have encountered from auditing bodies (mostly government agencies or prime contractors). Keep in mind that remedy documents are often public record when the projects are not classified.
So take a look at these and if you don’t understand why an organization was called out on some of these issues, then you may need scheduling best practice training. In the interest of discretion, some activity names have been changed, but the commentary is accurately relayed here.
Comment 1 – Eighteen activities without predecessors ‐ Schedule should have only one activity without a predecessor
Comment 2 – Thirty activities without successors ‐ Schedule should have only one activity without a successor
Comment 3 – Vast majority of schedule activities have over 100+ days of float on a 5 day calendar. This equates to 20 weeks of float for activities with 100 days of float.
Comment 4 – Why is there negative float through ABCD 10‐12 building when work hasn’t even started yet? This appears to be driven by a constraint on A2190, being constrained to 12/18/15.
Comment 5 – Activity Descriptions are very vague and difficult to determine work associated with activates unless organized under WBS. Need to add detail to description so it is clear what the activity represents.
Comment 6 – All specific building activities need to be logically tied to start and finish milestones per section 0111-01 ‐ Summary of Work, paragraph 1.23.
It’s important to point out that all these remedy items, while being from a single source, are not peculiar to this particular company or agency. We have chosen these comments because they very typical and are born of some very common and broadly publicized industry standard best practice guidelines.
What’s Out There?
You can find publications from such entities as the PMI (Project Management Institute), DCMA (Defense Contract Management Agency), Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering, International, USACE (US Army Corps of Engineers), APM and many other agencies and institutions.
For example the PMI publish the Practice Standards for Scheduling, which can be purchased directly on the PMIs web site or from other retailers such as amazon.
The PMI, DCMA, USACE and other publishers all have their own spin on scheduling best practice and books like these are one good way to become familiar with a particular set of guidelines as described by their publishing body. However there are common threads across all of these guidelines and you’d have to do a lot of reading to boil it down to some general ways of working that you can use in almost any situation.
So we’ve done the hard work for you and made it easy to learn a good foundation of best practice principles that will serve you well throughout your scheduling career regardless of the industry you serve.
Learning Made Easy
For those who are using Primavera P6 Professional, Ten Six offers a specialized scheduling best practice guidelines video training course. Ten Six’s Scheduling Best Practice Guidelines for Primavera P6 is an innovative approach to learning. It combines the most widely used industry best practice guidelines from multiple and highly credible sources. Each video lesson familiarizes you with a specific guideline, explains the reason for its existence, and then shows you how to apply the best practice to your Primavera P6 schedules.
It’s self paced and you can complete the entire course in approximately 5 – 6 hours. That makes it an extremely fast and efficient way to learn the fundamentals of scheduling best practice. By following the lessons learned in the course, you will be able to produce not just good schedules, but great schedules; schedules that will pass the scrutiny of some of the most persnickety auditors in the industry.
Here’s a 6 minute sample of the course taken from one of the lesson videos that discusses guidelines concerning relationships between activities. Check it out – you may find it informative.
You can learn more about our self-paced, online Scheduling Best Practice Guidelines for Primavera P6 video training course here.
Sure, you can create effective schedules without being familiar with formal best practice guidelines. The problem is, you don’t know what you don’t know, and sooner or later that fact may bite you. Industry standard best practice guidelines are based on decades of very sage scheduling wisdom. Over time they have been assembled into formal documented standards by industry thought leaders working in all types of scheduling environments and industries.
So, whether you are new so scheduling or have several years of experience, you will definitely benefit from some formal training in this area. If you don’t take our video training course, do something. Buy a book, read our blogs, search Google, whatever it takes to become a fully rounded scheduler who is ready for any scheduling challenge.