NetPoint User Guide

Getting Started


Welcome to the NetPoint® User Guide with NetRisk™ Risk Analysis. NetPoint® is a powerful and easy-to-use project planning and scheduling application. NetRisk™ Risk Analysis is a state-of-the-art GPM-based risk modeling and risk analysis module that runs within NetPoint®. Combined, NetPoint® with NetRisk™ offers seamless scheduling and risk analysis using the same graphical and intuitive interface. NetRisk™ Risk Analysis is available as a supplementary module to NetPoint®. If you’d like to add a NetRisk™ Risk Analysis license to NetPoint, please contact NetPoint® sales at http://pmatechnologies.com/contact.

NetPoint® with NetRisk™ Risk Analysis makes use of the Graphical Path Method® to introduce a number of innovative concepts to the practice of scheduling and risk analysis. To ensure that all capabilities are fully understood and utilized, we encourage you to use this guide as a reference, to browse through online resources, and to consider signing up for training services. For more information about training, please visit: http://pmatechnologies.com/services.

Terms of Use

©2008-2015 PMA Technologies, LLC. All logos, trademarks, page headers, images, splash screens, and graphics displayed in this document are service marks, and/or trade dress of PMA Technologies, LLC. Except as explicitly permitted herein, any of the mark is not permitted to be circulated in any form or by any means by any individual or any entity.

NetPoint, the NetPoint logo, GPM, Seeing is Planning, and Life’s a Project are registered marks of PMA Consultants, LLC; PolyTime and Truth in Scheduling are registered marks of PMA Technologies, LLC; Graphical Planning Method, Graphical Path Method, and NetRisk are trademarks of PMA Technologies, LLC. U.S. Patents 8249906, 8400467, 8531459, 8751280. Patents Pending.

USE AND DISCLOSURE RESTRICTIONS: The NetPoint and NetRisk Software (“SOFTWARE”) described in this document is the property of PMA Technologies, LLC (“LICENSOR”). It is furnished under a license agreement and may be used and/or disclosed only in accordance with the terms of the agreement.

No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, manual, photocopying, recording or otherwise, except as permitted by the author or LICENSOR. Neither the authors nor LICENSOR accept any responsibility for any errors or omissions or for any consequences that may result from any errors or omissions.

Setting up a Schedule


Before drawing activities and building a schedule, it can be helpful to configure the plan appropriately. Whether you’re starting with a blank canvas or importing activities from another application, the page size, time unit, and project dates should all be optimized beforehand. Once set, they can be modified at any time during planning.

Building a Schedule


In NetPoint, a schedule is created by drawing or placing objects—such as activities, milestones, and benchmarks—on a time-scaled calendar called the canvas. Each object represents a real-world task or event. These objects can be related to one another by placing logic ties between them, which are represented by links.

Objects are scheduled wherever they are placed on the canvas, which can be anywhere within their total float range (at the time). When an activity is first added to the plan, it may be positioned on the early dates that a CPM forward pass would yield. However, once linked to predecessors and successors, stakeholders can re-position the activity to achieve a more desirable scenario. This is because GPM permits activities to be scheduled on an “as-planned” basis. This flexibility allows for a more realistic schedule.

In general, it is recommended that every GPM schedule have an uncorrupted critical path, defined as a continuous sequence of logically-connected activities terminating at, and carrying the least total float or negative total float relative to, a contractual benchmark or constrained milestone symbolizing a contract time.

 

Optimizing a Schedule


NetPoint’s synchronous interface, which allows users to build schedules graphically, makes the user responsible for the layout of the network. This differs greatly from traditional CPM applications, where the software authors the layout of the network with little-to-no input from the user. Although this greatly enhances the presentation of the schedule, such flexibility can become overwhelming when working with larger schedules, and intimidating when importing schedules from CPM applications, such as Primavera or MS Project, or from Excel.

In these situations, we recommend running the automated layout engine. This tool greatly enhances the layout of the schedule by assisting with, or completely taking control of, the placement and layout of objects in the network. Underneath the hood, dozens of factors are taken into account, including relationships between activities, link geometries, text and description lengths and positions, and grid and canvas dimensions. For example, how many finish-to-start chains are there? Which links overlap with other links or activities? Are descriptions clashing? Answers to answer these questions and more are found in a matter of seconds.

In addition to layout, descriptions and IDs may be repositioned with the Global Edit Mode to minimize clashing; dates and durations can be adjusted by using the gestural interface to level resources; or the schedule may be analyzed for integrity or other factors. NetPoint provides a number of tools to facilitate these processes.

 

Schedule Risk Analysis


NOTE: The full chapter is available with the purchase of the license.

It is said that building a schedule is often more art than science. Imagine then for a moment that you are looking at a painting. In this painting, there is a married couple sitting at a table and a waiter carrying a bottle of wine. To the side, a boy is chasing a ball. But what happens in reality? Does the waiter bring the the bottle of wine to the table? Or does the boy’s ball roll in front of the waiter and cause him to trip? The painting doesn’t tell us which scenario might occur or what happens when one does – it only serves to get us thinking about the scene and to analyze what it might mean.

The painting is what we call a deterministic schedule. Activities are given single-point estimates – for durations, start dates, logic relationships, etc. – often considered best guesses or most likely scenarios. As more activities are added to the schedule, a web of objects begins to form called a network diagram. But the resulting picture is often inadequate; like the painting, the image we see fails to tell us what happens if one activity takes longer than depicted, or if another one doesn’t occur on time. What we see is only a single possible outcome, a blueprint for how the project might proceed.

In a stochastic schedule, inputs are given ranges (upper limit, lower limit, intermediate values, etc.) as opposed to a single estimate. These inputs are then arranged according to a distribution shape, and the outcome (e.g. activity duration, float value, risk impact, etc.) is sampled from its range for every iteration in the simulation. The goal of the simulation is to run enough iterations until the data converge and the results appear conclusive. This is when you reach the point where you could run another ten thousand iterations and the results would be the same. At this point, it becomes possible to conclude what chances different values have of occurring and to make scheduling decisions based on these probabilities.

 

Updating a Schedule


Once a schedule has been created, it may be updated to track and monitor progress. In NetPoint, entering actual dates and durations (also known as “statusing”) is done just like drawing activities or leveling resources—graphically on the canvas. The entire process involves setting a data date, storing a target, statusing activities, and then actualizing statused activities. An update is complete once all activities left of the data date have been actualized.

Unique to NetPoint is the ability to calculate float attributes forensically. As the schedule is revised right of the data date, drifts, floats, and total floats continue to refresh for actualized activities left of the data date, reflecting any re-planning of the network.

Tip: To maintain a record of date-specific as-built forensic float attributes, save each update individually. Also, the user may choose to further secure the data. See Setting a Password.

Inputs and Outputs


NetPoint schedules can be imported from and exported to Primavera P6, Deltek Open Plan, and Microsoft Project, and exported to Synchro Professional. Activities and resources can also be defined in Excel and then imported into NetPoint, and NetPoint can export reports to Excel. Instructions for all, in addition to printing, presenting, and capturing snapshots, are provided in this chapter.