One will never have a capital construction project without an integrated project plan that is usually created by using one of the planning and software applications that are common to the construction industry. Those could include applications like Primavera P6, MS Power, Power Project, and maybe others.
Every project plan will have a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) that will be the basis for decomposing the project’s scope of work into manageable and controllable work packages that will be further detailed into activities to be executed. Those off-site and on-site activities will have durations that depend on the quantity of produced output and assigned labor and equipment resources to deliver the same. The labor and equipment resource types and hours will be calculated from the estimated productivity rates for delivering a similar scope of work.
An activity duration will be in work-days to exclude the non-work periods like those of weekends and holidays. For cost-loaded schedules, activity will include the value that the work associated with the activity which will be earned when it is completed. Those project schedule activities will be sequenced using predecessor and successor relationships along with lag times for which they will be the basis for calculating early and late start and finish dates of the project schedule activities. Those dates will also be the basis for calculating the activity’s total float values to determine the project’s critical and near-critical paths. Most project schedules will also include milestone dates that might impose constraints on the project’s calculated early and late start and finish dates.
When the baseline project schedule is approved, the schedule should be updated on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis to capture the actual start and finish dates of completed activities and the remaining duration along with the percent complete of activities that are still in progress. On some projects, the actual labor and equipment resource hours along with the actual quantity of produced output might be also included in the schedule update.
This updated data will become the basis for re-calculating the start and finish dates for incomplete activities along with their total float value which might result in changing the original critical, near-critical, and non-critical paths. This interim schedule update process will continue to be carried out until the project has been completed.
The issue is updating the project schedule is that the update depends on actual records and documents that were produced, reviewed, and approved during the progressed period. For example, submittal review activities depend on the actual status of shop drawings, material samples, test certificates, and other types of technical submittals. In addition, activities start dates could be impacted by a delayed response to a Request for Information (RFI), issuing a permit to work, and others. The activity finish date could be impacted by a Work Inspection Request (WIR), Non-Compliance Report (NCR), Site Work Instruction (SWI), Safety Incident, Engineer’s Instruction (EI) to list a few.
Finally, the quantity of labor and equipment resource hours and the actual output of activity depends on the data recorded in the daily reports that will be formally submitted for approval. In other words, updating a schedule activity is far more than giving the start and finish dates and percent complete. The full history of what has happened with each activity needs to be formally captured and documented to be used in the schedule update process.
This is where a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb comes into the picture. PMWeb will be the platform used to manage all business processes needed to deliver the capital construction project. Those could include submittals, RFIs, SWIs, WIR, Permits to Work, Safety Incidents, NCRs, EIs, Daily Reports, and all other business processes that are needed for a capital project delivery. Having all those transactions digitally captured on a single 100% web-enabled platform will enable associating the transactions of the different business processes with their relevant project schedule activity. In other words, an updated project schedule activity will have access to all formally communicated records and documents to prove that the reported progress data is true, correct, and can be easily verified.
The first step in achieving this is to ensure that PMWeb has access to the current updated project schedule activities. Using the PMWeb schedule module, the baseline schedule, schedule revisions, and schedule update activities will be imported into PMWeb along with the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) levels. The default import function will import the schedule activities along with their duration, remaining duration, percent complete, planned and actual start and finish dates, WBS levels, and codes as well as the predecessor and successor relationships.
The import of project schedule data into PMWeb will automatically create a selection list of all tasks included in the schedule as well as WBS level values. Most of the out-of-the-business processes managed in PMWeb have the Task and WBS fields available by default in those forms. For example, the business processes for submittals, RFIs, daily reports, meeting minutes, cost estimate, budget, commitments, and contracts, change orders, progress invoices and requisitions, risk register, timesheets, and others have those two fields readily available. Those two fields can be also added to other business processes that do not have them by default.
For other business processes that are not available as out-of-the-box business processes, PMWeb custom form builder will be used to create those processes. For those processes, the Task and WBS fields will be added as one of the list field options. Those processes could include for example NCRs, CVIs, EIs, WIRs, Issues, Disruption Event, Safety Violation, Safety Incident, and others. The same would also apply to documents uploaded into the PMWeb document management repository where the Task and WBS will be the two attributes or user-defined fields available for uploaded and stored documents.
The importance of having the scheduled task and WBS level fields added for each business process transaction and the document is that a report can be created listing progresses activities grouped by WBS levels showing details of all transactions associated with the activity. In other words, the history of all events associated with the activity will be displayed.
The value of this report is not limited to the schedule update process but it will prove to be of great value when there is a claim for extension of time, constructive acceleration, or any type of claim that could have impacted the project schedule. The report provides the true history of what has occurred during the project life that is proved by records and documents exchanged on the project that is associated with their relevant project schedule activity.
For PMWeb daily reports and timesheets, the Task and WBS fields are available for each line item in those business processes. This enables not only showing the actual labor and equipment hours spent against each activity and the associated output quantities on daily basis but also providing the content for trustworthy performance and productivity analysis of each project trade category.
In addition, the actual achieved productivity rates for each trade when analyzed at project periods where disruption events or actions occurred, one can easily identify how those events have impacted the planned productivity rates as well as provide the needed proof or justification for this analysis. For example, using what is known as the “mile-approach” or “window of productivity”, the organization can estimate the lost resources’ working hours as a result of the disruption, trade stacking, interferences, and other types of events that could have contributed to the incurred loss of productivity.
About the Author
Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with 40-year service record providing project management, project controls services, and project management information systems to over 200 projects with a total value over the US $100 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education, and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment, Hospitality, and shopping malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, Telecommunication, and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete project management including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training, and business development.
Bassam is a frequent speaker on topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management, and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 40 years, he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and South America. He has written more than 300 articles on project management and project management information systems that were featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP), and Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE) and Green Project Management (GPM).
Bassam holds a Masters in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – Kuwait University, Kuwait and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, and London Business School, London, UK.