Tag Archives: Project Controls

The new Complex Projects Contract


Launched on 23 April, the Complex Projects Contract 2013 (CPC2013) focuses on managing time to ensure projects are delivered to specification on budget and without delays. Unlike existing contracts, which target failure by requiring financial compensation for late completion, CPC2013 provides the procedures to enable parties to manage time, cost and risk events in a modern and proactive fashion. It is also the first standard form contract to cater for Building Information Modelling (BIM) and the future of collaborative design.

Speaking about the contract, Keith Pickavance, a Past President of the CIOB and lead author of CPC2013 said: “This is a modern day contract designed for the data age. It underlines and meets the need for a collaborative and competent approach to how risks are managed utilising transparent systems of data. It can be used with, or without, Building Information Modelling and has been drafted to work in any country and legal jurisdiction around the world. The causes and consequences of delay are the single most common reason for uncontrolled loss and cost escalation in complex building and engineering projects”.

Unlike many forms of contract, CPC2013 doesn’t favour one party over another and is disencumbered by any vested interests. The contract is designed for projects of high value or complexity such as major real estate, engineering and infrastructure projects, with an experience client focused on achieving success. Amendments would be required to use the contract for ECPM and ‘construction management’ contracts.

Current standard forms of contract do not encourage, and in some cases actually inhibit, the competent management of time making them unsuitable for controlling the risk of time and cost escalation on complex projects. According to CIOB research, 67% of complex building projects were completed late, 49% were up to 6 months late and 18% were completed more than 6 months late. Time management experts can pinpoint the causes for these through careful analysis but by then it’s usually too late; the damage has been done and the parties are left counting the costs of late completion (or worse).

Effective tools
Taking a different approach, CPC2013 is designed to substantially manage, reduce and avoid time and cost risks contemporaneously though collaboration and transparent and effective tools.

Whilst the quality of the programme is paramount, the key lies in understanding that it is not enough simply to hold the parties to fixed points in an agreed programme for the works. With this in mind, CPC2013 concentrates on ensuring that sufficient information is communicated to manage time effectively and deal with variances from program regardless of the cause. It requires detailed record keeping of actual process against the schedule, including resource utilisation and productivity to help project participants understand and manage time risks as early as possible.

Quality assurance processes govern the preparation and maintenance of a dynamic programme (called the working schedule) and there are direct links between claims for extensions of time and the working schedule and the contractor’s specified methods of working. The parties must deal with the approval or rejection of the contractor’s submissions early on rather than leave these unresolved and, consequently, potential breeding grounds for later disputes are minimised. A project time manager, with a duty to act fairly and reasonably, helps advise on, and oversee, these processes.

BIM ready
CPC2013 is the first construction contract to be ready for Building Information Modelling (BIM), the modern digital standard for collaborative design. Maintaining this 21st century feel, communications between the parties are addressed through email, file transfer protocols and a common data environment.

Elsewhere in the contract, provisions cover deleterious and hazardous materials and the involvement of an expert aids the mitigation and quick resolution of disputes during the works. CPC2013 also caters for construction both on a design and build and a works-only basis, and can be used overseas as well as in the United Kingdom.

Einstein once said that it was not possible to change the world without changing our thinking. There’s little doubt CPC2013 may ruffle a few feathers, but its bold approach to time management is one which must be taken if contracts are to be routinely completed on time and on budget.

This is not the first time the CIOB has been involved in developing forms of contract. Back in 1871 the Institute with RIBA published the very first standard form of construction contract.

The contract is part of the CIOB’s agenda to establish a culture of effectively managing time in complex projects. In 2011 the Institute published the ‘CIOB Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects’ which was followed by the CIOB Project Time Management Certicication in 2012 (For more on these topics see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-CIOB-TM_Credential.html).
For more on the CPC2013 Contract see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-CIOB-CPC2013.html

Earned Schedule comes of Age

2013 is the 10th anniversary of the publication in The Measurable News (March & Summer 2003) of Walt Lipke’s seminal paper Schedule is Different, introducing the concept of Earned Schedule (ES) to the world. This milestone was celebrated at the inaugural Governance and Controls Symposium held in Canberra earlier this month.

One of the notable features around ES has been the amount of hostility towards the concept generated by traditional Earned Value advocates (for an overview of ES see: http://www.earnedschedule.com/).

Everyone who understands EV recognises traditional EV is a very useful cost predictor and also recognises that the traditional SPI and SV calculations lose relevance later in the life of a project and fail completely if the project overruns time (ie, in approximately 80% of projects SPI and SV are less then optimal). To resolve this problem, the traditionalists suggest ‘looking to the CPM schedule’ for answers and decry ES.

Unfortunately, whilst a reliable and accurate CPM schedule is a critical underpinning of any competent EV system, CPM itself is a ‘wildly optimistic process’, see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Resources_Papers_117.html

One step towards eliminating this destructive debate was achieved this month – at last there is definitive research that validates ES as a technique. A research thesis from the AFIT (US Air Force Institute of Technology) Masters student, Capt Kevin Crumrine compares EVM and Earned Schedule indicators on US DoD ACAT 1 programs (for non-military types – ‘big’ programs). The thesis documents a series of five descriptive statistical tests conducted on the Earned Value data for 64 Acquisition Category (ACAT) I MDAP’s. The research found that Earned Schedule was a more timely predictor of schedule overages than Earned Value Management.

Unfortunately the statistical data did not compare ES with the CPM predictions. The thesis notes ‘One shortcoming to this research is the inability to map the Earned Schedule data to the critical path, but we consider Earned Schedule to be a strong tool for schedule prediction at the summary/contract level.’ The stated reason was ‘Our example produced earned value data no deeper than the Work Breakdown Schedule (WBS) level 3 (ex: WBS Element 1.2.3). The Critical Path data is collected much deeper, as detailed as WBS level 7 (ex: WBS Element This disconnect prevented us from conducting a detailed analysis’

My feeling is the detailed nature of Capt Crumrine’s analysis meant the researcher could not see the ‘wood for the trees’. The only date that really matters on most projects/programs is the completion date! The level the data is collected at does not matter; neither does the activity/work package that that actually drives the final completion. What matters is the end date!!! The fact ES is a better predictor then EV should be 100% accepted and proved by now, and if not this detailed thesis should remove any residual doubts.

What is not proved is does ES provide a more reliable end date than CPM? My assessment outlined in Why Critical Path Scheduling (CPM) is Wildly Optimistic is that ES should be more accurate. Given the mass of data collected by Capt Crumrine it would be a pity if this last step is not applied by a future researcher.

The key role of CPM is (or should be) making the best use of the currently available resources on a project – this is the antitheses of predicting outcomes based on current trends in the way ES does. All that’s needed is another Masters candidate!!

Capt Kevin Crumrine’s thesis, ‘A Comparison of Earned Value Management and Earned Schedule as Schedule Predictors on DoD ACAT I Programs’ is now in the CPM electronic library at http://www.evmlibrary.org/library/Crumrine%20Final%20Thesis.pdf. If you are into analysis it is well worth the read.

Project Surveillance from an Expert!!!

Lisa-Wolf_webLast year at PMOZ 2012, I had the pleasure of listening to Lisa Wolf outlining the approach to project surveillance and health checks she has introduced and manages at one of the world’s foremost consultancy firms, Booz Allen Hamilton. Lisa’s presentation packed in more good advice than most people manage in a week!

This year Lisa is back in Australia at the PMI Australia Conference, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre: 1 – 3rd May 2013. Her Master Class on the 3rd May is a must attend for any PMO manager, Project Director or Project controls professional.

Lisa’s master class focuses on the approaches she has adopted and the lessons learned in setting up an internal project management surveillance function within Booz Allen Hamilton’s as well as her extensive experience assisting US Government agencies and other clients.

The term surveillance is derived from the French word ‘surveiller’ and has a military pedigree. It refers to keeping watch on a location or person. In the case of project management, the notion of surveillance begs the question, “What do you watch?” Observing a project manager first hand is unnecessarily overbearing and may not be warranted. What you can watch is a project manager’s outputs from baseline establishment through project execution, as well as the people, processes, and tools in place to ensure appropriate monitoring and control processes are effective.

During the workshop, Lisa will explore the ‘best practices’ that are essential for successfully establishing a helpful and supportive surveillance function, including the essential processes, procedures, and vital internal relationship-building will be explored. She has proved effective and helpful surveillance will improve project performance – you too can learn the secrets!

For more information see: http://www.pmi.org.au/masterclass/.

I’m certainly looking forward to catching up with Lisa in Sydney where I’m presenting our paper Communication ≠ Engagement on the 1st day.

I encourage you to take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn from a ‘master’ and look forward to seeing you in Sydney.

Project Governance and Controls Symposium

Canberra hosted the inaugural Governance and Controls Symposium this week – it was a relatively small event packed with highlights.

The first PTMC (Project Time Management Certificate) workshop to be held in Australia – based on feedback from the attendees, this will grow to become a very popular training.

A free networking evening looking at the future of ‘project controls’ in Australasia. During the meeting the final wind-up of the Australian Performance Management Association was completed.

The main symposium included three outstanding key note addresses supported by stream papers and an engaging panel session.

The two days of concentrated learning and discussion were finished with animated networking sessions. All together an intense and enjoyable two days for both project controls professionals, and the executive managers responsible for governing this area of an organisation’s business. Two of the key outcomes from the Symposium were:

  • Gary Troop, the President of the newly independent College of Performance Management (CPM) and symposium key note speaker announced a limited time offer to anyone in Australia to join the for US$25.  The CPM was a part of PMI from 1999 to 2012 but has reverted to an independent status to better serve the needs of the Earned Value community.  The College has a major on-line library of EV publications and plans to develop its conferences and webinars on a global basis – there is even talk of establishing an Australian Chapter – to be part of the exciting new development visit www.mycpm.org/aus and become part of the worlds leading EV community.
  • The project controls professionals present in Canberra expresses a strong desire to see a network established to link all of the various ‘controls focused’ components within professional associations such as AIPM and PMI, independent bodies such as CPM and Planning Planet and individual controls professionals to help raise the profile of project controls, amplify the message from any one component member, and through the network assist in career development and finding the ‘right person’ for work when needed.

To help with this initiative, PM Global are starting to plan the second Symposium to be held in Canberra at around the same time in 2014 and discussions are underway to frame a proposal for a ‘no cost’ network designed to meet the needs of the ‘controls community’.

There’s a lot to do to maximise the gains made this week – watch this space……

In the meantime, if EV and /or ES is your ‘thing’ the US$25 offer is limited and needs prompt attention!  And to understand the link between controls and project governance see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Resources_Papers_172.html

PERT – What’s in a name?


I could choose to call the image at the top of this page a tennis ball – it is about the right shape and is a bright colour, but if I chose to do so all that results is confusion! The name we call things matters because it communicates what we are talking about to our audience.

Over the last week we have been dragged into a number of Linked-In discussions focused on questions such as ‘Do you use PERT?’ Partly as a result of our latest blog on the PMBOK 5th Edition  and also because Mosaic Project Services (and particularly Patrick) has a high profile writing about scheduling history.

The overriding conclusion from the debates we’ve witnessed is no-one knows for sure who is saying what. Each user of the term PERT may be referring to a Network Diagram, a Monte Carlo simulation, some other simulation or the actual PERT technique developed in the 1950s. If the basic premise of the debate is not clearly defined the net result is a lot of noise and no possibility of reaching a conclusion of consensus – in exactly the same way as playing tennis using the ‘ball’ pictured above, all you end up with is a mess.

I’m not sure why so many organisations and people chose to use names that have a very specific meaning completely out of context but it seems increasingly commonplace:

  • it may simply be a lack of awareness, assisted by seeing many similar incorrect usages of the name;
  • it may be a desire to look clever by using technical jargon, which of course backfires big-time as soon as someone who knows hears the misuse;
  • it may be an overt commercial move to trade off a well know ‘brand’ to make a tool or offering seem better than it is.

What is important to consider though, is apart from the first option none of the other factors are ethical behaviour and all of the factors destroy effective communication.

To help bring some level of knowledge into the discussions around PERT, we have published a White Paper today on Understanding PERT.  This paper outlines exactly what PERT is and was, identifies the shortcomings in the technique and delineates what PERT ‘is not’ and the reasons why. After everyone has understood what PERT is and is not, let the debates continue but this time with the effective communication of ideas between the protagonists, ie, a communication in which the receiver actually understand what the sender is meaning.

The alternative was effectively described by Robert McCloskey, a US State Department Spokesman several years ago ‘I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant!’  Effective communication needs a mutual understanding of the terms used.

Download the White Paper

PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition – Some Technical Differences

We are busily working through the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition updating Mosaic’s PMI training courses ready for the scheduled examination changes. Three of the more technical changes we have discovered (out of many) are:

The Good:
Quality management has been tidied up. The seven basic tools of quality management are now dealt with in on place, once, in and referenced through the rest of the chapter. The ‘magnificent 7’ are: Cause and Effect Diagrams, Flow charts, Checksheets (checklist), Pareto Diagrams, histograms, control charts and scatter diagrams. Other specific techniques are discussed in the appropriate process. There is also an attempt to relate the different project/quality cycles including the basic process groups, the ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, the cost of quality and quality assurance and control.

The Bad:
Monte Carlo is missing from Time Management and Cost Management! One area that needs a major update in the 6th Edition are the aspects of time and cost management focused on three point estimates and variability. Monte Carlo has been moved out of these sections into the Risk chapter, and is defined as the source of ‘contingencies’ and as a means of ‘simulating’ schedule outcomes. Very little is included about the ways simulation through Monte Carlo are developed or used. In particular, there is no discussion of how different distributions should be chosen based on the available data. Understanding the range of potential outcomes is a critical time and cost management process as is the interactions between time and cost. The treatment in the Risk chapter is not bad, just in the wrong place, hopefully in the 6th Edition the consideration of modelling outcomes will move back into the Time and Cost chapters Or there will be far clearer links drawn between the development of the raw data and its use in cost and time management.

The Ugly:
For some reason PMI keeps bringing PERT back into consideration, ensuring the unfortunate confusion around PERT will persist for another 4 years at least! The completely inaccurate reference to ‘PERT Cost’ that crept into the 4th Edition has been killed off but the concept has reappeared in Duration Estimating (, Quality Assurance ( and the glossary.

There is nothing wrong with PERT being in the PMBOK if the technique is defined properly. PERT is a simplistic technique that applies a modified beta distribution and an approximation of the calculation for Standard Deviation (a polite term for inaccurate), to the activities on the critical path in a single calculation to determine the mean completion date (p50) and the effect of adding 1 Standard Deviation to approximate the p80 completion (ie, the date with an 80% probability of being achieved or bettered). PERT is prone to errors including the ‘PERT Merge Bias’ which describes the effect of a nominally sub-critical path finishing later than the critical path.

However, PERT is not synonymous with three point estimating despite a number of software vendors making the same mistake and using a ‘cute name’ to make their uncertainty calculations sound sexy. Any computation that involves simulation, different distribution options or calculating the whole network is not PERT.

PERT has an important place in history and is a useful teaching tool because you can do the calculations manually. But confusing this venerable technique with simulation and three point estimating helps no one and creates a significant communication problem – when a planner says he has done a PERT analysis you have no idea if this means a full Monte Carlo simulation, a manual PERT calculation described above or something in between. As a professional body PMI has let everyone down perpetuating this confusion.

The End:
Overall the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition is still a significant improvement; our earlier posts have highlighted many of these changes:

To read our earlier comments:

To see more on the book:
- In Australia: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Books.html#PMI
- Other places: http://marketplace.pmi.org/Pages/Default.aspx

AustPMA – Final Meeting

The meeting to formalise the closure of the Australian Performance Management Association and discus the formation of a less structured network for project controls professionals will be held on the 9th April 2013, at the Rydges Capital Hill, Canberra, ACT.

The AustPMA – Final Meeting is being held in conjunction with the Project Controls Community Evening (free event) which will start at 6:00pm to conclude at approximately 7:00pm – a cash bar will be available from 5:30pm.

The free Community Evening will include:

  • The formal finalisation of the AustPMA
  • A brief presentation on developments in the International Standards Arena (ISO) and the work of the ISO Technical Committee focused on project, program and portfolio management.
  • An update on the qualification of planners and schedulers including the launch of the CIOB PTMC (Project Time Management Certificate) qualification in Australia
  • An update of the CIOB contract for ‘complex projects’ and its approach to proactive time management.
  • An open discussion on the ‘way forward’ to establish a dynamic community of project controls professionals in Australia, effectively linking the work of the AIPM Controls SIGs, the Governance and Controls Symposium, the College of Performance Management, Planning Planet, and any other group working to advance skills and knowledge in this important discipline.

The costs of the room hire are being covered by the not-for-profit, PM Global Foundation, the organisers of the Governance and Controls Symposium that will be in the same location on the 10th April.

Any former AustPMA members may download:

Or email me to request copies at patw@mosaicprojects.com.au (many of you have moved and we don’t have your current email).

Regardless of your involvement with AustPMA in the past, we cordially invite all project controls professionals and interested project managers to attend this free community meeting to network and discuss the future direction of our discipline, as well as bidding a short but fond farewell to the AustPMA.

To assist in organising, please register for the free Project Controls Community Evening at: http://wired.ivvy.com/event/GCSM13/ (scroll down page for details).

Project Time Management Workshops for Planners & Schedulers

We are pleased to be part of the team launching the Project Time Management Certificate (PTMC) in Australasia. Mosaic’s Project Time Management Workshops are designed to:
- Offer a practical one-day scheduling and planning course.
- Underpin studies for the CIOB PTMC examination.
- Start a Blended training course for the PMI-SP credential.

In cooperation with the Chartered Institute of Building, Mosaic will be running a series of practical 1 Day Project Time Management Workshops that will be followed by a PTMC examination conducted by CIOB in the same city a few weeks later. Our first workshop will be held in Canberra as part of the Project Governance and Controls Symposium on the 9th & 10th April:
- Project Time Management Workshop – 9th April
- Free Controls Professional networking evening – 9th April (follows workshop)
- Project Governance and Controls Symposium – 10th April
- PTMC Examination – 4th May

These events are designed to re-frame project controls in Australia and provide an on-going forum for cross-industry, cross-association, cross-discipline discussions to advance the status and understanding of project controls. 2013 is the foundation year for what is planned to be a regular annual event.

The PTM Workshop is a valuable 1 Day course as well as providing a foundation leading to professional credentials.

The PTM Workshop is a valuable 1 Day course as well as providing a foundation leading to professional credentials.

Unlike the PMI-SP credential which requires formal training and a minimum of 3 years of experience for a candidate to be eligible for the examination, the PTMC is designed as a rigorous knowledge test that is open to anyone. Potential candidates can choose to self-study or take a course or any combination that works for them:


The PTMC is designed to provide experienced schedulers with proof they understand their discipline and offer graduates and others wishing to become a scheduler an opportunity to learn the art and skills associated with being a professional planner and scheduler – there is far more to the profession than simply using software!

More information:
- The PTMC Credential.
- PTM workshops (full schedule of dates).
- Book into the Canberra PTM workshop.
- Book into the free networking evening  (scroll down page – cash bar)
- Join us at the Project Governance and Controls Symposium.

The Symposium and networking events are underwritten by the not-for-profit PM Global Foundation and apart from physical costs, all of the income from the PTM workshop will be used to help develop this important initiative. We look forward to your support.

PMBOK #5 standardises its approach to planning

The PMBOK® Guide has always been designed for large projects, and assumes intelligent project teams will scale back the processes appropriately for smaller projects. The 5th Edition keeps this focus and introduces a standard process to ‘plan the planning’ at the start of each knowledge area. This concept has been embedded in earlier editions of the PMBOK, it’s made explicit in the 5th Edition.

Why plan the planning?

As a starting point, on larger projects there will be a significant team of experts involved in developing various aspects of the project plan, on $ multi-billion project frequently more than 100 people so their work needs planning and controlling the same as any other aspect of the project. With a budget of several $ millions and the success of the rest of the project dependent on the quality of the project planning this is important work.

But planning the planning and developing an effective strategy for the accomplishment of the project’s objectives is critically important on every project. If you simply do what you’ve always done there is very little likelihood of improvement. Spend a little time overtly thinking about what needs to be done to first develop the best project plan and then to manage the project effectively can pay huge dividends.

The overriding consideration in developing the plan is Juran’s quality principle of ‘fit for purpose’ you need a plan that is useful and usable that has been developed for the lowest expenditure of time and effort.


To facilitate this, the PMBOK now has process to ‘plan the management’ of: Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, HR, Communication, Risk, Procurement and Stakeholders. These planning processes develop outputs that are integrated within the overall project management plan and describe how each of the specialist areas will be managed. The management plans include the policies, procedures and documentation required for the planning, developing, managing and controlling of each discipline.

Less well developed are two key aspects that can contribute significantly to project success:

  • Within the ‘PMBOK’ there is a real need to coordinate and integrate different aspects of the planning. Decisions in one area frequently impose constraints on other disciplines and managing these constraints across multiple sub-teams is vital if the objective of a coordinated and integrated project plan is to be achieved. The project core team need to set parameters for the specialists to work within, possibly at a ‘planning kick-off meeting’ and then manage issues as they arise.
  • On a more general level, and applicable to projects of all sizes, there is a need to formulate the project delivery strategy before any realistic planning is possible. Answering the question ‘what’s the best way to achieve our objectives?’ frames the project planning and later the delivery. In software development choosing ‘agile’ over ‘waterfall’ as the delivery strategy changes everything else (for more on managing Agile see: Thoughts on Agile). The project objective of functioning software can be achieved either way, which strategy is best depends on the specific circumstances of the project (See our earlier post on project delivery strategy)

Certainly asking the team to think about what is needed to optimally plan, develop and deliver each knowledge area, will contribute to project success. Maybe the 6th Edition will take the integration of these processes forward.

See our other posts on the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition.

To buy a copy in Australia see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Book_Sales.html#PMI

Construction CPM Conference 2013

The Construction CPM conference is over for another year but will remain in our memories for a very long time to come! Combining a high quality conference – probably the best CPM / Scheduling conference in the world, with New Orleans during Mardi Gras was an inspired idea even if it means several weeks of exercise and dieting…..


Our thanks to Fred and Kim Plotnick for organising and hosting the conference and we look forward to coming back in the future. A few of our highlights were:

Seeing a real swamp with alligators and a top tour guide http://www.torresswamptours.net/ ….


The jazz, Preservation Hall, buskers and Bourbon Street…. Plus the food, the locals and the delegates at the conference. Not to mention papers and insights from many of the worlds leading practitioners and developers of CPM software,

Feeling jealous? Plans for the conference include:
2014: Disney World Florida.
2015: West Cost possibly San Diageo.
2016: New Orleans again.

Stay in touch and plan your attendance at: http://www.constructioncpm.com/

PS: We were there for work as well as fun, see: Our previous post