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Digital Dryshack # 94: GASP! (10 Generally Accepted Scheduling Practices)

Most of our work lately has been P6 training, and I find myself during that training to be referring often to Generally-Accepted-Scheduling-Practices. However, I don’t know if a written set of such practices exists – yet. So the purpose of this blog is an attempt to do just that, condensing my 30 years of construction scheduling experience into a list of Best Practices, which can be abbreviated to the curious acronym, “GASP”. First and foremost, always maintain professional ethics in preparing the schedule. There are ways to manipulate scheduling software to achieve questionable results, but avoid doing so. Take the high road and act in the best interests of the project. Make sure you build a closed logical network that passes this simple test:  Every activity but the first has a predecessor.  Every activity but the last has a successor.  Use Constraints sparingly, typically only for contract provisions such as project start, project finish, and turnover dates that are contractually required. Use “softer” constraints such as “Finish On or Before” more often than “Mandatory Finish” for example. This allows dates to move according to the logical network, calculating positive float if early, negative float if late.\ The WBS (Work Breakdown [...]

Digital Dryshack #92: 6 Tips: P6 Scheduling for D.O.D., 2016

We’ve recently returned from our 3-day, “P6 for Government Contracts” training session for Dawson Construction in Honolulu. One significant takeaway that reinforced what we were already noticing is that new government personnel are changing NAVFAC’s & USACE’s scheduling specs for recent projects. For years we had been able to count on a rigorous but largely boilerplate scheduling spec for both branches of the service. Not so anymore. Here’s six tips to help to get your IPS accepted (and get you paid faster) on D.O.D. contracts: READ (AND FOLLOW) THE SPECS ! As fundamental and obvious as it sounds, even experienced schedulers often skip this crucial stop and assume they know what’s required. We all know how to spell “assume”, and it’s as true as ever. Both NAVFAC & the Corps are now including WBS instructions in their scheduling spec. Be ready to comply with this new requirement. NAVFAC construction managers are using a recently-compiled 82-point checklist to evaluate IPS submissions. Know it and get it right the first time. We’re providing a link to download this stringent list of requirement­s (we do ask for your email and company info to download). The 48-Division CSI MasterFormat codes are required Activity Codes [...]

Digital Dryshack #87: 10 Reasons D.O.D. Schedules get Rejected

Working with a G.C. firm providing scheduling training in Honolulu last week reminded me of the struggles most midsize contractors face when submitting an Initial Project Schedule (IPS) to NAVFAC or the Army Corps of Engineers. Most contractors produce a simple bar chart in MS Project for their typical jobs and aren’t familiar with P6. Rarely are the rigorous and demanding scheduling complexities included in D.O.D. project manuals required by private industry or commercial work. So when awarded a NAVFAC or USACE project, Contractors aren’t getting paid for anything but the bond because their IPS is rejected multiple times for a myriad of reasons. For this reason, I’ve listed the 10 most common reasons the Government rejects Initial Project Schedule submissions: Incomplete Logical Network is the #1 reason most schedules are re­jected. These 2 rules are absolutely non-negotiable: Every Activity but the first (Contract Award) must have a Predecessor Every Activity but the last (CCD) must have a Successor Schedule Log report not reviewed for compliance with Project Spec is the #2 reason for rejected schedules. This invaluable report lists all Constraints, Critical Path Activities, mandatory program settings, open-ended and out-of-sequence Activities, and much more. If you don’t review this report [...]

Digital Dryshack # 68: Scheduling Best Practices

15 Tips for Best-Practices Scheduling While discussing scheduling with a client in Hawaii recently, I found myself repeating over and over, a variation of “…scheduling best practices include…” Hearing these words repeatedly set me to thinking that I hadn’t recently seen scheduling guidelines set out in a concise, straightforward document. So here goes an attempt at that lofty goal. Rule # 1: Always maintain the best interests of the project in the schedule Rule # 2: Always maintain high ethical standards in building the project schedule That said, to paraphrase an old saying, “the hand builds the schedule, rules the project.” (You are in control over how you represent shades of gray. Represent your company’s best interests, as long as you comply with #1 & #2 above) Complete the logical network Don’t leave any open-ended activities. Every activity but the first has a predecessor, every activity but the last has a successor. Use the entire contract duration in the initial project schedule (IPS). Promising early completion carries significant legal implications, and is therefore often unwise. Be realistic with the logical network. Avoid “waterfall scheduling” (excessive Finish Start relationships where Start to Start is more accurate). Keep relationships simple. In most cases, [...]

Digitial Dryshack #51: Report from NAVFAC Hawaii Scheduling seminar

Chelsea's recent departure from Cassell Consulting for an engineering position at Schlumberger presented an unwelcome (due to her leaving) opportunity. She was scheduled to attend a seminar in Honolulu entitled P6 Scheduling Requirements for NAVFAC projects. So I found myself at the Honolulu office of the AGC in Hawaii on a Tuesday morning in August, slightly before the 8am start time. Glenn Saito of NAVFAC Hawaii presented the engaging and worthwhile topic to the ten of us present. We at Stenstrom Group and Cassell Consulting have designed a hands-on, comprehensive 3-day training session ourselves, specifically designed to navigate contractors through the demanding specifications of scheduling construction projects for NAVFAC and the Army Corps of Engineers. So I was especially interested to hear what NAVFAC is looking for, directly from the horse's mouth. I took the opportunity in Anchorage a couple years ago, to attend an excellent seminar presented by Craig Lance of USACE Alaska. As Mr. Lance did in his class back in 2010, Mr. Saito provided some excellent perspective on his department's scheduling requirements. I learned firsthand, the reasoning behind NAVFAC's Critial Path definition (Zero days total float), and why it specifies using Excel for the 3-week Lookahead. An [...]

Primavera P6 support Q: How to deal with cents (change), partial hours, and rounding in P6

We had a Primavera P6 support question today about how to persuade P6 to be accurate to the cent and partial hour.  If you are trying to prevent P6 from rounding to the nearest dollar or hour, there are two places to change your preferences to deal with cents or partial dollars & hours. The first is in User Preferences, where you can choose the number of decimals of your time unit: Go to Edit --> User Preferences In the Time Units Tab, adjust the number of decimals accordingly. The second place is in Currencies, where you can choose the number of decimals in your currency unit: Go to Admin --> Currencies In the Appearance tab, adjust the number of decimals to your preference.

P6 Activity Won’t Schedule On Time

P6 Activity Won't Schedule On Time We received a call at 4pm on Friday afternoon (the obligatory Friday Afternoon Construction Emergency) concerning a scheduling issue: in spite of all attempts, a 10 day P6 activity with only 2 days remaining was showing a disconnected duration, a gap of 2 months between its Actual Progress and its Finish date. Worse, important Successor Activities were linked to the delayed Activity , so the whole logical path was being held hostage by the rogue activity. Try as I might, using all the tricks I know for manually controlling & updating progress, every time I scheduled the project, the Activity would disconnect from its progressed status, and show the same 2 month gap. I changed Duration type to Physical, manually edited Remaining Early Start, all to no avail. It looked like a classic case of Out of Sequence Activity, but all its Predecessors were 100% complete, so that seemed illogical. I should have run the Schedule Log report to check for Out of Sequence, but I kept thinking that if I kept at it, the solution would reveal itself. As usual, I should have listened to that little voice. Any time a progress bar [...]

How to Update Closed Financial Periods in p6

Following training we provided in Anchorage recently, a senior scheduler pulled me aside with a perplexing P6 problem. He had inherited the schedule for a hospital in northern Alaska that had been originally assembled by a cast of now-long-goners. By and large the schedule was reasonably solid, but some quirky behavior somewhere in its structure revealed itself every couple months, throwing pay apps out of balance. Try as he might, (and he's a solid scheduler), the errors kept recurring. One month all the pay items would balance, and the next there would be some math that just didn't add up.  It boiled down to our needing to adjust the amounts billed in some now-closed financial periods. The solution turned out to be simpler than we expected. Here is the solution to how to update closed financial periods in p6: 1) In the Details view, we opened the Resources Tab 2) We customized the Resources Tab to include columns for Units and Costs from the (now-closed) Financial Periods that were incorrect. 3) Consulting the manual, we entered the DIFFERENCE. in the Actual Units and Actual Costs for the period. (P6 will not overwrite the original value, but it will post an [...]

P6 Activity Code issue and fix

We took a call recently from a geographically-diverse company’s project manager who was having problems building  a new P6 schedule for an Army Corps of Engineers project. He’d been working for hours on it and was getting nowhere. Try as he might, when attempting to assign his Project Activity Codes to items, they were nowhere to be found, despite being correctly set up. Sound familiar? Chances are it might, as it’s an issue we’ve run into several times. I met the distraught project manager at a local restaurant, and we discussed his problem over lunch. The details: The problem is due to Activity Codes’ schizophrenic ability to lead“three lives”. Activity Codes can be created: at the Project level in the EPS at the Enterprise level. In this particular case, the scheduler had assigned Project level Activity Codes (correctly per the Contract Specs), AND GIVEN THEM IDENTICAL FIELD NAMES AS ENTERPRISE ACTIVITY CODES. This doesn’t work! The higher level code (in this case at the Enterprise level) will trump the lower level code (at either the EPS within the Project). The rule: Activity Codes created at different levels MUST be named differently. That difference can be as simple as a change [...]