YOUR PROJECTS HAVE A SCHEDULING PROBLEM

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According to industry analysts, $5+B were spent last year on improving project management skills and processes, as well as various PM/PPM software. Did all these billions cause projects to run faster or more efficiently? Most likely not.

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Maybe they were not solving the right problem. Your projects have a scheduling problem if:

1. You have tried creating a single source of truth but people prefer their own “back pocket” schedules

2. You have frequent meetings to resolve schedule/resource conflicts

3. Everyone is constantly firefighting and waiting on someone else

4. People are perpetually overloaded

5. High priority projects get done in half the time – which only means that, with correct scheduling, all projects can get done much faster

If you have a SCHEDULING PROBLEM, improving processes or soft skills WON’T improve project delivery or resource efficiencies. ONLY fixing the scheduling problem will.

PLEASE FIX THE SCHEDULING PROBLEM. THE WORLD IS EAGERLY AWAITING YOUR PROJECTS.

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CORE PRACTICE: GLOBAL OPTIMIZATION, NOT LOCAL

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The main pitfall to avoid with real-time scheduling is to continue with local optimization that was necessary with static plans. The results you get with real-time scheduling are superior when you use it for global rather than local optimization.

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Static plans are not useful in execution. Resources can only work on what’s available, not what was planned. That’s why, with static plans, day-to-day execution is managed with local optimization metrics like resource utilization and efficiencies. However, there is a big difference between keeping resources busy and getting projects done (more projects faster).

Let’s conduct the following thought experiment to understand the difference between local and global optimization.

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There are three identical work-streams in this experiment, and each work-stream is comprised of three main tasks:

  • Blue Tasks (B1, B2 and B3) that are performed by the Blue resources;
  • Red Tasks (R1, R2 and R3) that are performed by the Red resources; and
  • Gloden Tasks (G1, G2 and G3) that are performed by the Golden resources.

Now, imagine that you can execute these three work-streams in one of the following two modes:

  • LOCAL OPTIMIZATION MODE: “Maximize Resource Utilization” whereby resources are fully utilized and all the three work-streams are executed in parallel.

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  • GLOBAL OPTIMIZATION MODE: “Maximize Project Velocity and Completions”, whereby all the required resources are assigned to one task at a time and only after finishing that task can they start another. For example, Blue resources will have to finish Task B1 before they can start Task B2. Resources experience some idle time in this mode.

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Let’s further assume that:

  • In the “Global Optimization” mode, Blue resources can finish one Blue Task in 6 weeks, Red resources can finish one Red Task in 10 weeks, and Golden resources can finish one Golden Task in 4 weeks. This mode requires 18 (6×3) weeks of Blue capacity, 30 (10×3) weeks of Red capacity and 12 (4×3) weeks of Golden capacity. As stated before, resources are sometimes idle in this mode.
  • Resources can be more fully utilized by spreading them across three work-streams. In the “Local Optimization” mode, the total capacity required from every resource is less than in the “Global Optimization” mode. Blue resources can finish all three tasks in 15 weeks instead of 18; Red resources can finish all three tasks in 25 weeks instead of 30; and Golden resources can finish all three tasks in 10 weeks instead of 12.

Let’s now analyze which mode yields better performance.

  • CYCLE TIME: In the “Local Optimization” mode, each of the three works-streams takes 50 weeks to get done (15 weeks for the Blue Task + 25 weeks for the Red Task + 10 weeks for the Golden Task). In the “Global Optimization” mode, the cycle time to finish one work stream is 20 weeks.
  • THROUGHPUT: In the “Local Optimization” mode, the three work-streams get done in 50 weeks. In the “Global Optimization” mode, the three work-streams finish in 40 weeks (the first work-stream starts immediately and finishes in Week 20, the second work-stream starts after 10 weeks and finishes in Week 30, and the third work-stream starts after 20 weeks and finishes in Week 40). In the “Global Optmization” mode, a fourth work-stream can be started after Week 30 and can be completed by Week 50, a 33% higher throughput.
  • MANAGEABILITY: In the “Local Optimization” mode, the number of active work-streams that have to be managed at a time is three. In the “Global Optimization” mode the number of active work-streams that have to be managed is two. Simplification for departmental managers is even more. The number of active tasks that have to be managed at a time comes down from three to one in every department.

“Local Optimization” is the only option for managers when they cannot analyze the impact of local schedules on global performance in real-time. However, “Local Optimization” doesn’t make sense in the new world of “Real-Time Scheduling”.

 

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WHAT THIS BLOG IS ABOUT

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Today’s real-time technology allows us to have real-time scheduling of projects and resources. No longer do we have to rely on plans that are updated only once a month. However, management processes and metrics optimized for the world of monthly planning and reviews can actually slow you down in the real-time world. To get the full benefits of real-time scheduling, you need to upgrade management processes and metrics too.

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Real-Time Scheduling enables Real-Time Resource Management. Instead of being stuck with obsolete plans that are at odds with reality, and having to make local scheduling decisions without knowing how it will affect all projects and resources, resources can always be working on the right tasks at the right time.

Real-Time Scheduling enables Forward Looking Alerts in projects. Managers know not only the current state (are projects on schedule and where the bottlenecks are today) but also the future state (will projects finish on time and where will bottlenecks be in the future).

Real-Time Scheduling  also allows you to make Real-Time Pipeline Decisions. As changes in demand happen, either because an emergency project needs to be done or because business conditions are changing, executives can drop in new projects or adjust the priority of current projects and see the impact on the entire pipeline.

BUT, you cannot get the full benefits of Real-Time Scheduling with practices optimized for the world of monthly planning and reviews. For example, no longer should you be assigning 100% of your resources to specific projects; no longer should you be measuring people to task estimates provided at the time of planning; no longer should you be reviewing your projects only once a month; and no longer should you accept scheduling inefficiencies in your project completion rates and timelines.

At Realization, we have had the privilege of working with managers who are both thought-leaders and action-leaders in their organizations. Together, we have implemented practices that leverage the power (and avoid the pitfalls) of Real-Time Scheduling. We look forward to sharing those with you on this blog and also to continue learning from your own insights.

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Concerto 6 is Here!

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Making project plans extremely efficient and integrating with complementary systems is key to making project/resource management useful, and we’ve got great news: Concerto 6 is here with major innovations in these critical areas!

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CCPM allowed variability in task duration through buffering and buffer management but it wasn’t a complete solution as it didn’t provide a practical solution for managing changes in scope, tasks and dependencies, forcing organizations to choose either high-level project plans that don’t help in day-to-day execution or very detailed project plans that must be continuously re-planned. Concerto 6 completely solves that problem with new Two-Tiered Tasks!

This new way of organizing work as Tasks and Subtasks allows you to reduce the number of tasks in the Critical Chain network by a factor of between 3 and 10 while still capturing all the subtasks that Task Managers and Task Doers want for execution. These subtasks can be added, changed, or deleted without re-planning the entire project. Best of all, it also allows you to reduce task durations and project cycle times by ensuring better synchronization of subtasks in execution. Coupled with a Process-Flow UI on the web, you’ll now be able to visualize an entire project plan on a single screen instead of scrolling around and losing sight of how tasks are connected.

The second major innovation in Concerto 6 is its Integration Module which allows you to exchange data with Earned Value Management, Materials Management, Work Card/ Shop Floor Management, and Engineering systems, as well as project administration software such as Primavera.

Concerto 6 also has new Pipeline and Resource Management capabilities.

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Here’s a complete list of what’s new in Concerto 6:

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  1. New Project Planning Module: fully web-based and (best of all) does not require MS Project!
  2. Can import or convert MPP/CCX to the new web-based SPI project format
  3. Two-Tiered Tasks with four (4) options for modeling subtask dependencies
  4. Visualize entire project flow in one screen; tasks organized by phase and scope
  5. Select from multiple project and resource calendars for global project teams
  6. Copy and paste scope and child scopes for speedy creation of project plan using a scope template
  7. View “debuffered” plan
  8. Advanced task-scope hierarchy modeling
  9. Ability to multi-select tasks and milestones using Ctrl+Left-Click to perform copy and paste
  10. Tabular View’s “Additional Phases” field offers secondary phase assignment for advanced pipelining

[/et_pb_accordion_item][et_pb_accordion_item title=”B. What’s New for Pipeline Manager” _builder_version=”3.0.84″ open=”off”]

  1. New Pipeline Manager Module: fully web-based, integrated with Concerto Web, does not require local desktop client installation or maintenance effort.
  2. Easy-to-Use and Easy-to-Understand pipeline user interface. Dragging the project along the timeline is now possible as a new way to manually pipeline the projects.
  3. Use phases as “drum” in addition to traditional resource based constraint; even the total number of projects in the pipeline can all be selected as constraint(s) for staggering the projects.
  4. Perform capacity what-if’s without cumbersome modification of global resource file.

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  1. All new resource needs report to forecast near-term resource requirement
  2. Options to view by project or by resource
  3. All new sand chart report displays forward-looking graphical view of the changes from aggregated loads of selected resources.
  4. Global Resource File can now be managed via Concerto Web: add, delete, and modify resources and phases name and maximum unit. Set Reserve Units, designate calendar exception for variable capacity of constraint resource(s). Create project and additional base calendars to model global resource pool collaboration and exceptions.

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  1. New subtask-only view to provide simple 3-Step management process: Upcoming-Current-Complete columns. This added flexibility allows subtasks owner to rearrange his/her own subtask priorities without being affected by buffer management process.

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  1. Earned Value Report
  2. Work Card for Maintenance Repair Overhaul Environment
  3. SAP Purchasing Order integration
  4. Sharing project plan using Oracle’s Primavera

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Two-Tier Tasks with 4 modeling options for subtasks dependencies

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Use multiple project and resource calendars:

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View “debuffered project plans” with buffers added back to individual tasks

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Copy and paste scope and child scope as well as multi-select cut, copy, paste

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Advanced task-scope hierarchy modeling

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Additional phases for pipelining purposes

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Primary phases for scope and tasks In the PERT View:

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“Additional Phases” can be defined and assigned to tasks for pipelining in the tabular view:

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Resources, phases and total project WIP can all be used as drum(s)

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Perform pipeline what-if based on new capacity limit and capacity variability

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The all new “Resource Needs” report

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The all new “Sand Chart” report

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Global Resource File managed through Concerto Web instead of MS Project

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The new Subtask View for Upcoming-Current-Complete buckets. This added flexibility allows subtasks owners to rearrange his/her own subtask priorities.

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Integration with Earned Value Management

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Integration with Work Card/ Shop Floor Management

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Integration with SAP Purchase Orders/ Materials Tracking:

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FK Expected Finish

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Export Concerto Plan to Primavera for baseline

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