Planning and Scheduling Best Practices

The best practice of planning and scheduling has slowly been integrated into the daily production, planning, and monitoring processes. With the potential for increased productivity and mandated owner requirements, general contractors have begun to utilize planning and scheduling practices as part of their standard operating procedures increasingly over the last four decades. With this reality, educational accreditation organizations, such as ACE, have mandated project management principles as part of their Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs). So at what level of compliance are general contractors given? To understand this, I conducted an unpublished research study of four general contractors on the current state of planning and scheduling best practices within their organization. These practices were developed utilizing many of the principles outlined in PMBOK’s 6th edition.

Here is a summary of these findings:

  1. The layout and organization of project schedules were methodical.

  2. Project schedules were a team compilation on every project schedule assessed.

  3. All project management surveyed believes that their accountability is equal to their authority.

  4. The composition of the WBS reflects the information on the drawings.

  5. Duration days are the primary project metric utilized that is adjusted to reflect project-specific needs and unplanned events.

  6. The utilization of multiple parallel paths throughout a project network was evident.

  7. The use of milestones throughout schedules enhances the clarity of the project schedule.

  8. The schedule analysis process removed any apparent time reductions through schedule compression and any scheduling conflicts due to logic.

  9. Schedule updates and reporting are required periodically by management, so accountability does indeed exist for project progress expectations.

  10. The RFP, project estimate, and specifications were not used to put together project schedules.

  11. No formal process for schedule development existed within these organizations.

  12. No project charter exists, nor is an understanding of the project charter apparent.

  13. Resource constraints are not considered in the project planning and scheduling process.

  14. Resource and resource budgets are not included in project schedules.

  15. Change control is not held at the lowest efficient organizational level.

  16. Risk management strategies are neither methodically documented, nor used during construction execution.

  17. Project schedules are not cost-loaded, nor tracked via use of project schedule unless required by the client.

  18. No resource loading existed in the general contractor’s schedules.

  19. The project network does not start or stop at central milestone events, leaving an open network where delays can occur, with no indication of how it affects the project completion date.

  20. Many tasks are not tied into the network, thus a closed network does not exist.

One glaring factor that affected schedule compliance with the PMBOK’s best practices was the Sector many companies not included in this study focused on. Companies like S.T. Wooten, HPC, ORCOM, Turner, and several others have shown there is a link between planning and scheduling guidelines and the best practices utilized.

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