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 [...]
Our CEO Barry Cassell spoke at the 68th annual AGC Alaska conference in Anchorage last month. Barry's session, "Construction Tech Today and Tomorrow" provided historical perspective and a look ahead at the progress of technology in our industry. Among topics covered, a recent survey by McKinsey Global Institute pegged Construction next-to-last of all major industries at technology adoption (only Agriculture does worse than we do!) Paper record-keeping, isolated information silos, and old-school mentality are just a few of the habits holding us back. Recent developments in BIM, Autonomous Equipment, the Cloud, and Mobile Tools are promising initiatives making a dent in the problem. Barry showed the audience 5d takeoff tools available today, & Zach Goepel of Procore demonstrated how Artificial and Augmented Reality are providing visualization tools impossible a few short years ago, resulting in accelerated scheduling with reduced change orders.
By Laurel Cripe A company which is implementing Vista has many resources for learning: the Viewpoint Learning Center, aka “ClearView”, 4988 articles for Vista in the Knowledge Base at last count, the online Help System (F1 or Form Help from Vista), and of course, their Vista consultant. If the help that is needed is a basic list of steps for a process, sometimes the Knowledge Base articles or the videos in ClearView can be overkill, and searching for the right resource time-consuming. Built into Vista is a set of concise “how-to” documents that are not widely advertised. These documents are accessed via the WF Templates report. To access the reports, go to the Workflow Module, Reports folder, WF Templates. From the Begin Template field, the lookup (F4) will bring up a long list of standard templates, including documents both for implementation and for processing. For example, under PR, there are steps for Payroll Implementation and Processing, along with steps for Month/Quarter End and Year End. Judging by the revision dates on the templates, these reports are left-over from legacy help systems in Viewpoint, and may not include all the most current feature enhancements. But sometimes less is more, and [...]
Please come join us at AGC Alaska in Anchorage November 9-12. We're presenting the session "Construction Tech: Today + Tomorrow" on Wednesday at 2:45. Our session takes a look at the current state of tech in our industry as well as what's coming in the next few years. We'll discuss Cloud, Mobile, Drones, 3-d printing and Robotics, to name a few. Registration for the conference is still open - if your company does business in our industry in Alaska, you should be there! While you're at the conference, don't forget to register with us to win dinner overlooking all of Anchorage from the Crow's Nest at the Hotel Captain Cook. We look forward to seeing you there.
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 [...]
We received a call from an old friend and seasoned Sr. Estimator who was having problems importing an estimate to Sage 300 Accounting. Problem: All the estimated costs were interfacing correctly to the JobCost budget except one cost code's Labor. Some of the Labor costs and hours showed up, but not all. Cause: Exporting multiple units from the same Job Cost Code and Category AND those Items flagged in the Database to "Send Units to JobCost" . In this case it turned out that two different Items in the same JobCost Phase and Category were using different units of measure Masonry Powerwash using the unit "hr" (hours) Masonry Block Install using the unit "ch" (crew hours) Solution: Changing the Items to use the same unit, (in this case changing the Powerwash item from "hr" to "ch") BEWARE HOWEVER: WHEN CHANGING UNITS OF MEASURE, BE SURE THE NEW UNIT IS PRICED CORRECTLY ! (most times the new Unit should utilize a different price) This needs to be done manually by the Estimator Happy and Profitable Estimating! Cheers, BC Got a Construction Software problem? Submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll try to answer and post in an upcoming Digital DryShack
We've been working with Sage SQL Estimating over the past few months, and are becoming bigger fans of the recent updated version, 15.2. The upgrades over the past year and more enthusiastic client interest had prompted us to put together the first cut of feature comparisons between the 2 versions of Sage Estimating. The 3 biggest changes in most recent version: Totals Page Templates All-new Database Editor JobCost Interface enabled for non-Sage Accounting These were mission-critical improvements that arguably kept legacy clients from upgrading. With these much-needed features available, the decision to upgrade becomes easier. Here's a link to our quick analysis (click the title of this blog post if you cannot see the chart):
Recently, Cassell Consulting was contacted by a planning engineer who encountered difficulty during critical path analysis. Our resident P6 guru, Ken Wagner, weighed in to clarify best procedures for utilizing multiple critical paths in P6. The following is an edited transcript of their exchange: Q: "I have a question regarding how to know multiple critical paths.To know first 10 critical paths in Primavera P6. I used to filter (longest Path) to know the first, then delink activity and schedule again (F9) to know the second, and so for rest… I also used your method: https://www.cassellconsulting.com/consulting/multiple-float-paths-in-p6.html but it gives different critical paths from the first method. Which is right? A: "I sometimes modify my settings based on the analysis I need to do. Sometimes I change the critical path to total float less than or equal to, to a negative number to capture activities that are approaching near critical (note: that this is in hours so for 1 day that would be -24 etc.). I filter for only Task activities (filter out milestones, LOE, WBS Summary, etc.) In group and sort, group by float path and then do a multiple sort criteria for Start, Total float and then the final tie breaker is [...]
Last month, the Cassell Consulting, Inc. team flew down to sunny Santa Barbara, CA, to meet fellow Procore partners and demonstrate our CCi Fusion: Sage to Procore and CCi Fusion: XL to Procore tools to Procore users. We met a cavalcade of engaging, professional users, and the turnout had the Fess Parker Hilton brimming. Procore staged a series of workshops and seminars throughout the Hilton, led by members of its staff, and focusing on the accounting, collaboration, and project management aspects of its cloud-based software. To CCi, the most interesting of these presentations revolved around new-technology-adoption within a construction firm. Procore’s perspective was as follows: focus on the early-adopters within a firm, achieve success and workflow optimization with these individuals first. Then, when the early-adopters are satisfied and using the new business practices to complete work more efficiently, use their work as a testament to the superiority of the new technology, and the individuals themselves as evangelists to the bulk of the workforce. Finally, when only a small contingent of late-adopters remains, focus on applying the lessons learned in the previous steps to getting these folks on board with the new business paradigm. As a general rule-of-thumb for implementing new [...]
Our work as consultants requires travel to such interesting places as Arnpior, Ontario Canada, population 8,500. Arnprior is a picturesque, and architecturally lovely small town at the confluence of the Ottawa and Madawasca Rivers in Eastern Ontario. If you ever find yourself needing accommodation in Arnpirior, it would be a mistake not to check availability at Ellen's Kirkman House B&B. It's a 140-year old B&B, which was at one time in its colorful history the town’s Convent. Our project was with M Sullivan & Son, a 102-year old construction company whom we've worked with for the past year, building a new and robust Sage (Timberline) Estimating system. Our primary mission this trip was to provide training and support for closing their first bid in Timberline, rather than in Excel as they have for many years. The first step is Database setup. In my opinion, effectively closing a bid in Timberline utilizes two custom WBS : Bid Status with 3 values: 1-Open 2-Pending 3-Closed Bid Package: multiple, as detailed as you expect your Subcontractor and Supplier quotes to be CSI-indexed Examples: 03.20.00 Concrete reinforcing 03.30.00 Concrete supply 03-35.00 Concrete place & finish 3 database setup steps: We setup [...]