Many project managers do not read the updated project schedule. I know many people (project managers and project planners/schedulers are going to feel indignant about my statement above.
But hang on, before you jump at what I said above, let me explain how I derived at this conclusion and why Project Manager doesn’t read the schedule before submission.
As a client Project Manager, I received the monthly progress schedule which was attached as appendices of the monthly report. More often than not, I noticed that the activities were not correctly updated. For example, certain activities were updated as completed but in actual fact, it was not yet completed and vice visa. Obviously, if the PM had reviewed the updated schedule, he ought to have caught all these glaring discrepancies!
Of course, for those activities that were in progress (not updated with 100% completed), it was difficult to say the updated percentage was incorrect from the updated schedule alone. There was always a degree of subjectivity when it comes to percentage updating. How to tell to tell with certainty if the updated activities should be 40% and not 30%?
So my conclusion was, the updated schedule was hardly reviewed by the PM before being submitted.
Wasn’t the updated schedule an important artifact and a basis for EOT claims evaluation when Time Impact Analysis would be performed? How would it affect the total floats and validity of the critical path if the schedule was not updated properly?
Now let us examine the root cause of why the schedule was not always updated correctly.
- There were thousands of activities in a baseline schedule. It was unlikely that all dependencies between activities could be validated by the contactor’s team members. Likewise, the client’s project team could not have caught all the errors in the programming logic during the review, except for very glaring errors.
- There was no agreed basis on the computation of percentage completion before the schedules began updating. For example, when the activities for slab casting was updated as 40% completed, did it meant 40% of the slab cast or rebar work? Was there an establishment of weightage for the sub-activities work?
- Scheduler/Planner did not know what they are updating!. Once, I asked the contractor’s scheduler/planner what that M&E activities were referring to and why it was updated as such. His reply was, he did not know exactly but his M&E manager told him so!
- The logic of project schedule was not updated accordingly with site development as work progress. Site development was very dynamic and the intended changes in the sequence of site work were not updated accordingly in the schedule. I was not sure if the changes of logic were not changed due to ignorance of the project planner/scheduler or because of the schedule control mechanism did not the logic of the programme to be changed until it was being approved or any other reasons.
- As such, for the above reasons, PM did not trust the updated schedule. Also, it was very tedious to look at the schedule that runs into thousands of activities. Rather he would gauge the progress of the project by looking at site progress in relations to the milestones set in the baseline schedule.
In conclusion, I will urge the planners/schedulers to review the updated schedule with your project manager and team members regularly. It is very important to walk the site and know what is happening on site. Try to establish the basis of percentage updates for major trades with the team package leads and the subcontractors. Last but not least, do not be shy to ask the team leads about the progress updates if in doubt.
About the Author:
Stanley Tey has more than two decades of project management experience after graduating from the National University of Singapore in Civil Engineering. He also obtained a Master Degree in Software Engineering from Institute of Systems Science, NUS where he specialized in Project Management and Systems Integration.
He has worked as a Consulting Engineer, Project Planner, and Project Manager. Some of the projects he had handled are:
- North East Line
- Singapore 1st Desalination Water Plant at Tuas
- Integrated Resort Project at Sentosa
- Lonza Cell Therapy Plant at Tuas (Phase 2)
- Merck Junumet plant at Tuas
- Singapore Special Cable Tunnel Project