W16_HMIP_ Assessing Contractor Schedules in PT ABC against the GAO’s Scheduling Best Practice Guide using AHP

1. Problem Definition

Many projects are getting delay due to poor planning and scheduling. Poor planning and scheduling of the construction projects may also lead to bad results in project completion time and budget. In this blog building projects schedule will be studied and compared to the best practices listed in GAO Schedule Assessment Guide. The reason why this topic had been selected is that schedule provides a road map for systematic project execution and it is power full tool to major progress, resolve potential problems in advance and it helps to eliminate causes of delay and extra expenses. Scheduling is playing considerable role to control projects effectively.

Continue from Blog W10 after choosing Project A, B and E. Project Manager of PT ABC were requested by CEO to assess the schedule of the project against The GAO’s Scheduling Best Practice using AHP. He need to execute all of them as fast as possible as per time schedule. In the other else, the project resources is very limited. One of Engineer handle many assignments in the same time. Due to PSC Contract Expiration will be end of 2021, SKK Migas stated that all of the project should be finish on 2016. And there will be sole cost and no cost recovery whether the project was delayed until 2017.

The condition urge the Project Manager assess the predictability of their schedule against to do project portfolio prioritization and engage project stakeholder regarding the situations. CEO will use the such a criteria in handling project portfolio prioritization. Then he will know the capital resources funding sequence to support project funding.

As a project manager of PT ABC (Oil Industry), Mr. B need to identify the criteria of project prioritization

Figure 1. Behaviour Competence in Project Management

Figure 1. Behaviour Competence in Project Management

2.Identify the Feasible Alternative

According to GAO Schedule Assessment Guide, “four characteristics should be considered for high-quality and reliable schedule”:

  • Comprehensive
  • well-constructed
  • credible
  • Controlled
Figure 2. Four Character of reliable schedule

Figure 2. Four Character of reliable schedule

Project Manager of PT ABC, do simply schedule audit referring to GAO Schedule Assessment Guide as it provides key questions, key documentation and likely effects if the criteria are not fully met. Figure 3 are showing those three areas for sequencing to all activities.

Sequencing All Activities

Auditor's Key Questions and documents 2Auditor's Key Questions and documents 1

Figure 3. Auditor Key Questions and documents

Figure 3. Auditor Key Questions and documents

3. Development of the outcome for Alternatives

Project Manager takes all 3 schedules examples from Project A, B and E which been been selected from local Indonesian contractor and benchmarked against the best practices listed in GAO Schedule Assessment Guide. List of recommendations are listed to help local contractors to come over problems resulted from poor scheduling. The purpose of this approach is to find out the substantial reasons behind the scheduling problems, by using AHP technique we can focus on the causes that if attended will show a great improvement in project scheduling.

Figure 4. List of Project PT ABC with Budget

Figure 4. List of Project PT ABC with Budget

4.Selection of Criteria

Project Manager of PT ABC, Mr B pick up schedule best practice review from Appendix III which is included in this blog is a power full tool as it contains standard quantitative measurements for assessing schedule health.

 a. Using 10 best practices which have been summarized below :

Capturing all activities

Work break down structure (WBS) is showing in details the works and activities to be done by all parties, it is very important to cover all steps, events, required work, and outcomes seeing that the schedule is considered as an agreement for executing a project. Failing to include all activities leads to lake of understanding of the plan and it can slow down the project progressing toward success. The absence of important activities or events in the integrated master schedule (IMS) will hinder coordination and lead to project delay. So it is very important to cover all activities in the IMS to avoid any potential source of delay or cost and to ensure that all activities are scheduled in the correct order and the recourses are allocated in proper manner.

Sequencing All Activities

Arranging activities in logical order of completion is the main purpose of sequencing activities. Sequencing all activities allows the manager to know what are the activities required to end up with the required out comes. It is to be defined properly so that the optimal results can be achieved. It is essential to identify activities interrelationships (logics) before sequencing. The following are the common logics in scheduling:

  • Predecessor and successor activities

Predecessor activities are the activities which must be finished before other activities can begin and successor activities are the activities that come after Predecessor activities.

  • Concurrent activities

This type of activities is attended in parallel, identifying the activities which can be done in parallel is very important as it allows the manager to allocate enough resources and saving time.

  • Lag and lead activities

Lag is the time required before starting successor activities and the lead is negative lag, it is starting the successor activity in advance before finishing the Predecessor activity.

  • Milestones

It is a common used activity in project scheduling to point out that un important activity is complete, to illustrate progress points, or to refer to important dates like receiving of critical materials or important meeting.

Assigning Resources to All Activities

Project activities cannot be done without resources. Resources are anything needed to do the job such as labor, material, equipment, tools …ext. Assigning resources to activities guarantee rational estimation for activity durations and cost. It clarifies responsibility for those tasks to be done. After assigning the resources, resource leveling can help to make sure that the resources are utilized effectively

Establishing the Duration of All Activities

Activity duration is the period required to perform the activity. It is majored in days, hours or weeks. Numbers of resources in the activity are often influencing the activity duration, for example painting a room which is taking four hours to finish with one painter can be finished in two hours with two painters. In some cases the resources are not influencing activity duration for example the time needed for painting to be recurred is not changing even if the resources increased. The identified activity to be short enough to allow the manager to control the project but not very short that it entails frequent schedule update. Resources are assigned to calendars to show their available times which in turn effected the duration of tasks.

“Verifying That the Schedule Can Be Traced Horizontally and Vertically”

Horizontal traceability reveals that the schedule is logically compound and planned in a logical sequence, taking interdependence of detailed activities in consideration, and gives a means to assess current status. Horizontal traceability allows the manager to trace the important deadlines and millstones which in turn improve management decisions.

Vertical traceability helps to show clear and consistent information to all schedule users. It will allow all teams to work to the same goals and targets as the lower-level schedules will be consistent with upper-level schedule milestones, improving the integrity of the overall schedule.

Confirming That the Critical Path Is Valid

The critical path is the tasks that determine the end date in a project schedule. That is to say the project will be late if any task from those is late. The slack in critical path is zero where the slack is the amount of time the task can be delayed without impacting the star date of the following task. Creating a valid critical path is curtail to track any activity slipping along the path and it draw the team effort and attention on the tasks that will lead to fish the project on the required time.

Ensuring reasonable total float

The total float or slack must be reasonable in the schedule. It is the amount of time the task can be delayed without impacting the star date of the following task as mentioned before. Large total float indicates that the activity can be delayed without impacting project finish date. Many factors can influence the total float like date constraints in the schedule and the degree of uncertainty in the estimation time. Calculating schedule float and maintaining it helps to facilitate the schedule. One of the advantages in using schedule floats is that in the large schedules some tasks may be missed to be linked to their following tasks, if so, it can be identified by its very high free float. It will helps the management to shift resources from tasks which have high free float and tackle the critical activities or the activities which became close to be critical. The total float of any project must be monitored periodically to allow project manager to take right decision in the right time.

Conducting a Schedule Risk Analysis

Nobody can be certain that the project will finish in the planned date, even the duration for each single task is not guarantee to be met. Conducting a schedule risk analyses by applying statistical techniques’ will help to predict the level of confidence in meeting the project completion date. High priority risks and opportunities can be determined by analyzing the schedule risk through critical path method. Hence any schedule should have reasonable buffer and contingency time to give the project manager more chance to control his project.

“Updating the schedule using actual progress and logic”

As the project started it is essential to track and update the schedule in regular biases. The actual data for the completed tasks can provide important information for the remaining tasks for instance the duration for electrical works which have already taken one day in one station can be used to update the planned durations and provide a rational estimate for the remaining similar stations. Updating the schedule should be fully supported by all team. Updating the schedule in regular basis makes the project manager to know the status of all activities and to identify activities which are behind the schedule which in turn help to take decisions. Updating the schedule using actual progress and logic reveals the potential problems and the actual total float. The schedule to be examined after update to make sure it still healthy and the logics are not broken.

Maintaining a baseline schedule

Maintaining baseline schedule is very important as it is considered the reference for project scope, the time proposed and the number of resources required achieving that scope. Baseline schedule is the target schedule in which the performance and management control process will be compared. Comparing the actual status to the baseline in regular biases reveals activities and milestones which forecasted to start and fish before or after their baseline date which entails management action to recover the lag.

b. AHP Tools :

AHP transforms the comparisons, which are most of the times empirical, into numeric values that are further processed and compared. The weight of each factor allows the assessment of each one of the elements inside the defined hi­erarchy. This capability of converting empirical data into mathematical models is the main distinctive contribution of the AHP technique when contrasted to other comparing techniques.

After all comparisons have been made, and the relative weights between each one of the criteria to be evaluated have been established, the numerical proba­bility of each alternative is calculated. This probability determines the likelihood that the alternative has to fulfill the expected goal. The higher the probability, the better chances the alternative has to satisfy the final goal of the portfolio.

The mathematical calculation involved in the AHP process may at first seem sim­ple, but when dealing with more complex cases, the analyses and calculations become deeper and more exhaustive.

5. Analysis and Comparison of the Alternatives

Project Manager use AHP method to assess the predictability of all 3 schedules Project A, B and E which have been selected from local Indonesian contractor with the 10 schedule best practice and analyzed to find out how far they are from the best practices listed in GAO Schedule Assessment Guide.

Figure 5. AHP Hierarchy Criteria of Project in PT ABC

Figure 5. AHP Hierarchy Criteria of Project in PT ABC

Standard Data Measures for Schedule Best Practices listed in appendix III used to assess the selected schedules. Questions and Focus Goup Discussion method with project stakeholder were used to convert all numbers to rates. The AHP is a process for making a decision in an organized way to generate priorities. To make the comparison it is required a scale of number that indicates how many times more important or dominant one element is over another element which respect to the criterion with respect to which they are compared.

Table 1: The fundamental scale of absolute numbers (source : T. L. Saaty, 2008)

Table 1: The fundamental scale of absolute numbers (source : T. L. Saaty, 2008)

A pairwise comparison matrix for each criterion is the next result to be calculated until it finally obtained priorities for the sub criterion. Results of the comparison (for each factors pair) were described in term of integer values from 1 (equal value) to 9 (extreme different) where higher number means the chosen factor is considered more important in greater degree than other factor being compared with.

6. Selection of the Preferred Alternative

First, Project Manager get Project Objectives from CEO as an Asset Manager :

Figure 6: The Strategic Asset Management Process Map

Figure 6: The Strategic Asset Management Process Map

Second, The Project Manager collect the data from questionnaire and focus group discussion to do pair wise comparison of 10 criteria of GAO Schedule Best Practice :

Figure 7 : Pair Wise Comparison

Figure 7 : Pair Wise Comparison

Third, The Project Manager do normalization of each criteria :

Figure 8 : Normalization

Figure 8 : Normalization

Fourth, The Project Manager do Consistency Analysis of each criteria :

Figure 9 : Consistency Measure

Figure 9 : Consistency Measure

Fifth, The Project Manager multiple each project score with criteria weighting :

Figure 10 : AHP Result

Figure 10 : AHP Result

In the beginning seems like CEO already have an opinion that Project A is favorable than other project, since the project was simple and more predictable. But after do the 10 GAO Schedule best practice assessment using AHP. The project manager showing the new analysis that Project E is more predictable than other project.

 Figure 11 : GAO Schedule Best Practice Rank vs Project Rank

Figure 11 : GAO Schedule Best Practice Rank vs Project Rank

7. Performance Monitoring and the Post Evaluation of Result

Figure 12 : Project PT ABC Rank vs 10 GAO Schedule Best Practice Important Rank

Figure 12 : Project PT ABC Rank vs 10 GAO Schedule Best Practice Important Rank

It is clear from figure 12 that all the selected schedules have bad weakness in sequencing all activities which is rank 1 most important than other criteria of 10 GAO Schedule Best Practice. It seems that the schedules are not very well in sequencing all activities.

It is very important that the project scheduler sequencing all activities well during project schedulling. According to GAO Schedule Assessment Guide many points to be taken in consideration so that sequencing all activities can be mastered.

  • The schedule contains complete network logic between all activities so that it can correctly forecast the start and end dates of activities within the plan.
  • The majority of relationships within the detailed schedule are finish-to start.
  • Except for the start and finish milestones, every activity within the schedule has at least one predecessor and at least one successor.
  • Any activity that is missing predecessor or successor logic—besides the start and finish milestones—is clearly justified in the schedule
  • The schedule contains no dangling logic. That is,
    • Each activity (except the start milestone) has an F–S or S–S predecessor that drives its start date.
    • Each activity (except the finish milestone and deliverables that leave the project without subsequent effect on the project) has an F–S or F–F successor that it drives.
  • The schedule does not contain start-to-finish logic relationships.
  • Summary activities do not have logic relationships because the logic is specified for activities that are at the lowest level of detail in the
  • Instead of SNET constraints, conditions of supply by an outside vendor or contractor are represented as actual activities in the
  • Date constraints are thoroughly justified in the schedule Unavoidable hard constraints are used judiciously and are fully justified in reference to some controlling event outside the schedule.
  • Lags are used in the schedule only to denote the passage of time between two activities.
  • Instead of lags and leads, every effort is made to break activities into smaller tasks to identify realistic predecessors and successors so that logic interfaces are clearly available for needed dependency
  • If included in the schedule, lags and leads are used judiciously and are justified by compelling reasons outside the schedule in the schedule documentation.
  • The schedule is assessed for path convergence. That is, activities with many predecessors have been examined to see whether they are needed and whether alternative logic can be used to link some predecessors to other activities.

As a project manager PT ABC, Mr B. has already assess the schedule of Project A, B and E. He need to improve their schedule using 10 GAO Best Practice Schedule using AHP result as the improvement prioritization. Begin with fixing sequencing all activities of the Project A,B and E, and so on.

References :

  1. AACE (2011).Total Cost Management Framework: An Integrated Approach to Portfolio, Program, and Project Management. Chapter 2 Page 24.
  2. BUNRUAMKAEW,Khwanruthai (2012). How to do AHP analysis in Excel Retrieved from : http://giswin.geo.tsukuba.ac.jp/sis/gis_seminar/How%20to%20do%20AHP%20analysis%20in%20Excel.pdf
  3. Liana, Lita (2012). Using Analytical Hierarchy Process to Determine Appropriate Minimum Attractive Rate of Return for Oil and Gas Projects in Indonesia Retrieved from : http://pmworldjournal.net/article/using-analytical-hierarchy-process-determine-appropriate-minimum-attractive-rate-return-oil-gas-projects-indonesia/
  4. Vargas, Ricardo (2010). USING THE ANALYTIC HIERARCHY PROCESS (AHP) TO SELECT AND PRIORITIZE PROJECTS IN A PORTFOLIO Retrieved from : http://www.slideshare.net/ricardo.vargas/using-the-analytic-hierarchy-process-ahp-to-select-and-prioritize-projects-in-a-portfolio
  5. Al Barami, Hasan (2014). Assessing Contractor Schedules in Oman against the GAO’s Scheduling Best Practice Guide Retrieved from : http://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/pmwj25-aug2014-Al-Barrami-assessing-contractors-schedules-Featured-Paper.pdf
  6. GAO Schedule Assessment Guide (2012), Best Practices for project schedule, United States


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1 Response to W16_HMIP_ Assessing Contractor Schedules in PT ABC against the GAO’s Scheduling Best Practice Guide using AHP

  1. drpdg says:

    AWESOME case study and AWESOME analysis…… VERY IMPRESSIVE, Pak Hery!!!

    I am going to send this link along to Karen Richey, who was the project manager of the GAO’s “Best Practices” books…….

    Keep up the good work and looking forward to seeing more postings like this….. Continue to do this and you will be in great shape for the AACE exams……

    Dr. PDG, Boston


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