With large-scale and complex projects and programs, executive-level management can oftentimes greatly enhance their decision-making ability when presented with high-level summary schedules of critical work. In the following case study, mid-level management for a major Program near the New York City metropolitan area was being provided a milestone filter of the multi-thousand activity P6 schedule, but this document was not also made available to executives. It eventually became clear during meetings with upper management that an even higher level snapshot of only critical and near-critical work would also be very useful to them.
At the time, the executive team was facing pressure to commit to completion dates for a critical structure (a public complex) within the Program. In response, PMA created the following schedule summary.*
*The dates and names of the Program, activities, and other areas have been changed to protect the privacy and interests of the parties involved.
Approximately 500 activities and corresponding relationships were examined in order to determine the discrete paths of work driving the completion of this component of the Program. Activities of similar work (e.g., by trade, location, total float, etc.) were grouped together to show only critical interfaces with other high-level activities and paths, while the remaining non-critical portions of the network were truncated.
As activities were summarized, several specific paths of fundamental work became more clearly identifiable (indicated by bold headings). We were also careful to summarize in a manner that minimized free float (GPM buffer) within summary activities. Next, we evaluated the interfaces between the resultant paths and maintained critical and near-critical logic (primarily tied through the commissioning work) while logic that had little chance of becoming critical was removed to ensure a clear and concise illustration of the individual paths.
The summary schedule produced by PMA was successful because it provided the following information at-a-glance:
- A large portion (nearly half) of this work is critical or near-critical.
- The path most critical runs through South Building network controls, MEP, and commissioning activities.
- Since the original schedule obscured negative float (GPM drift), it was previously unclear that the South Building commissioning would not actually be completed before completion of this area. This was seen as a significant constructability issue to the engineers regarding the feasibility of this plan.
- A secondary critical path runs through the North Building structure, systems, and commissioning activities.
- The entire Entrance path and Steam fit-out & HVAC are near-critical.
- Constrained completion of MEP work for the entire area caused that path of activities to finish after Substantial Completion. But there seemed to be an opportunity to mitigate this by permitting the activity to start earlier based on network logic.
It is unlikely that the Program executives (who would ultimately be held accountable for completion date commitments) were aware of the project schedule issues that were effectively obscured in the CPM schedule (or the extent of the challenges that would come along with trying to adhere to the completion dates).The process also helped facilitate discussion regarding where to focus resources, controls, and the potential need for acceleration in certain areas.
PMA’s goal was to uncover this wealth of important information and to illustrate it to the executive management team in a transparent and compelling way. NetPoint provided the team with the perfect tool to accomplish these goals, and in so doing, helped the executives understand previously unknown challenges regarding the feasibility of the proposed plan and make better informed decisions based on that information.