Tag Archives: Project Controls

Core Traits of a Reliable Schedule

CIOB_BookThe recognition of the need for effective schedules is a strongly emerging trend.  There are a number of assessment tools described on our Scheduling home page, and the related White Paper focused on the DCMA 14-Point Assessment Metrics  highlights the value of a ‘good schedule’; as does the CIOB ‘Guide’ to managing time.   The Core Traits of a Reliable Schedule adds a practical protocol to these existing resources.

The Core Traits of a Reliable Schedule is aimed at codifying schedule best practices. The Authors have endeavoured to codify the essential elements of a reliable schedule into a comprehensive protocol. It organises established and emerging best practices for CPM and GPM schedules into 20 core traits.

  • ‘A’ Traits correspond to comprehensive schedules,
  • ‘B’ Traits correspond to credible schedules,
  • ‘C’ Traits correspond to well-constructed schedules, and
  • ‘D’ Traits correspond to controlled schedules.

The Core Traits of a Reliable Schedule ties the 20 best practices, to indicators of reliability, to the consequences of non-conformance, in a straightforward and practical way. A useful free synopsis can be downloaded from http://pmaconsultants.com/services/innovation/core-traits-of-a-reliable-schedule/  and if you like what you see, the full protocol is available for purchase.

Project Governance and Controls Symposium – Canberra

PCGS BackThe outstanding line up of international and local speakers for the PGCS in Canberra on the 6th and 7th May is nearly complete: Confirmed speakers include:

Professor Michael O’Donnell, Head of the School of Business at the University of New South Wales.

Dr Tom Ioannous, Group Executive Director Performance Audit of ANAO

Mr Col Thorne, General Manager Land and Maritime at DMO

Ms. Karen Richey, Assistant Director for the Applied Research and Methods Team at the Government Accountability Office (GAO – USA).

Mr. Stephan Vandevoorde, head of the Airport Systems Division of Cofely Fabricom N.V./S.A. and a founding member and Director of the EVM Europe Association (www.evm-europe.eu)

Mr. Stephen Hayes, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the International Centre for Complex Project Management

Mr. Mark Phillips,  President of Standpipe Manager, Inc. a U.S. based consultancy delivering innovative program management services, who will be launching his new book.

And Christen Bergerud (Ecosys), Harold Petersen (UXC Consulting), Yvonne Butler (The Palladium Group), Raf Dua (Micro Planning International), Elissa Farrow (About Your Transition), Louise Hart (Author), with more to come…..

At $820, the symposium represents fantastic value for a two day event.  Can you afford to miss this outstanding line up of international and local speakers?

To find out more and register visit the Symposium website at: http://www.pgcsymposium.com

Strategic PMOs

Strategy1PMOs that focus on process, tools and report formats are out of step with the needs of executive management and unlikely to survive.

Value is created through the alignment of projects with the goals of the organisation and best-practice PMOs go beyond alignment with strategic initiatives; they are involved in creating and implementing organisational strategy.

The type of measurements that matter in this environment focus on measures such as ‘Return on investment (ROI)’, benefits realised, risk profiles and payback periods. Simplistic measures such as time and cost performance, use of processes, courses run and the number of qualifications achieved are not sufficient; and in themselves are largely irrelevant.

Processes and staff training are a means to an end, not an end in themselves! What matter is measures that demonstrate the qualified staff, applying the processes, are more effective at delivering valuable outcomes. Good processes improve efficiency and reduce error; bureaucratic processes reduce efficiency and drive up costs (see more on process improvement).

StrategyBut even that is not enough! These elements only look at doing projects ‘right’. Successful PMO leaders cite project alignment to strategic objectives as the top-rated PMO function that has the greatest potential for adding real business value to their organisational activities.

As part of PMI’s Thought Leadership Series, PMI in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit, Boston Consulting Group and Forrester Consulting, has examined the changing role of PMOs as they shift emphasis away from process and towards the more important role of contributing to value delivery. Their reports can be downloaded from: http://www.pmi.org/Knowledge-Center/PMO-Thought-Leadership.aspx

There’s a lot of reading in these reports – maybe a good use of any excess holiday time…..

For more of out thoughts on PMOs see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PM-Knowledge_Index.html#OrgGov4

Project Controls – A Definition

ControlsSeveral months ago at the Project Governance and Controls Symposium in Canberra I was asked to define project controls. Everyone talks about ‘controls’ but exactly what is included and how does ‘controls’ relate to other disciplines such as project governance?  To answer this question, my proposed definition for ‘project controls’ is:

Project controls are the data gathering, management and analytical processes used to predict, understand and constructively influence the time and cost outcomes of a project or program; through the communication of information in formats that assist effective management and decision making.

This definition encompasses all stages of a project or program’s lifecycle from the initial estimating needed to ‘size’ a proposed project, through to the forensic analysis needed to understand the causes of failure (and develop claims).

The functions undertaken by project controls professionals includes estimating future works, determining the current status of work in progress, understanding the reasons for this status and recommending appropriate actions or alternatives based on the observed status and trends. Within this framework, for a recommendation or prediction to be useful, the reliability of the information upon which it is based needs to be understood, and additionally, any realistic estimate or forecast must take into account uncertainty and the cost and time consequences of identified risk events.

Consequently, the project controls discipline can be seen as encompassing:

  • Project strategy, planning and methods studies to optimize future outcomes,
  • Scheduling including development, updating and maintenance,
  • Cost estimation, cost engineering/control and value engineering,
  • Risk management,
  • Earned Value Management and Earned Schedule, including WBS, OBS and other breakdown structures,
  • Document management,
  • Supplier performance measurement / oversight (but excluding contract administration),
  • The elements of a project management methodology that integrate these disciplines both within the ‘controls’ domain and with other project management functions, and
  • The ability to communicate effectively the information generated by these processes.

This proposed definition deliberately excludes the actual management of the project scope, including scope related disciplines such as quality control, and general management disciplines such as team development, stakeholder management and communication. ‘Controls’ information is often an important input to these functions but the ‘controls’ role is information generation, management’s role is making effective use of the information.

This means: Project Controllers are the experts who gather, manage and analyse data to generate useful information and insights for others to use. And the primary users of the ‘controls information’ are the project management team and project governance and oversight entities within the organisation such as PMOs and ‘project control boards’ (PCBs).

Certainly, the surveillance aspects of time, cost and risk are intimately linked to the accomplishment of scope, to the quality standards required by the stakeholders, by the project team; but the ‘controls’ processes are not directly involved with the management of project work. Project controls professionals work with the team and other stakeholders to plan the optimum way of accomplishing the work, then measure the actual performance of the team against the agreed plan and use this data to recommend future actions and predict outcomes.

Most authorities recognise that it is impossible to effectively manage or govern a project (or program) in the absence of reliable information on the current status of work in progress, and reliable predictions of future outcomes. This is supported by this proposed definition, with the key delineator between ‘controls’ and ‘management’ being the recognition that it is management’s role to make use of the information and advice generated by the controls professionals.

This theme is carrying forward to the 2014 governance and controls symposium – you are invited to be a part of the debate! To catch the ‘web hot specials’ and/or submit a proposal for a paper visit the symposium website at: http://www.pgcsymposium.com/

Once the definition of ‘controls’ is resolved, the next step will be establishing a framework of certifications and qualifications to benchmark ‘professional’ knowledge and behaviours. There is already good progress in this area with developments by AACEi, Planning Planet, PMI and CIOB to name a few (see more on PMI and CIOB credentials).  What’s lacking in the general ‘market’ is a general recognition that effective controls professionals need domain knowledge as well as tools knowledge.  Developing this recognition is the next challenge.

Project Governance and Controls Symposium – Canberra

PCGS BackThe Project Governance and Controls Symposium (PGCS) is back bigger and better then ever! Returning to Canberra on May 6-7, 2014, PGCS is the only Australasian symposium dedicated to promoting Project Performance Management through the interlined disciplines of project controls and program, portfolio and project (PPP) governance.

Hosted by Platinum Sponsors, UNSW Canberra, the symposium will be held at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). This illustrious venue has given us the opportunity to expand and enhance the symposium to include both academic and industry streams in a two day program of symposium sessions and workshops.

Be Part of the Program!

Academic papers: We have introduced a peer reviewed stream for Academic Papers managed by UNSW, the opening date for Academic Paper submissions is 15 November 2013; the closing date for acceptance of submissions is 1st February 2014. For more information on the academic application process and key submission dates, please click here.

Industry Presentations Welcomed! The PGCS is also seeking a broad spectrum of practical presentations that look at tools, techniques, case studies and other aspects of governance and controls in an organisational setting. Formal papers are welcomed but not essential for this stream – share your knowledge and experience with your peers and colleagues. For more information on the industry submission process, please click here.

Registrations are now open! You cannot afford to miss the Web Hot Specials. Come and join an extensive line up of keynote speakers and industry specialist including:

  • Karen Richey, an Assistant Director for the Applied Research and Methods Team at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in Washington. Karen will be talking on the Lessons Learned from GAO Reviews of Federal Agency Capital Acquisition Programs and the GAO Improvement Initiative is the USA.
  • Stephan Vandevoorde, head of the Airport Systems Division of Cofely Fabricom N.V./S.A. (Belgium) He is a founding member and Director of the EVM Europe Association (www.evm-europe.eu) and will discuss the proposition that If Time is Money, Accuracy Pays Dividends: An Overview of Past and Future Project Management Research.

PGCS is managed as a not-for-profit conference designed to bring together the many strands of project governance and controls thinking and development world-wide to enhance the knowledge and understanding of these important functions within the wider Australian community. Key supporters include the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), the College of Performance Management and EVM Europe, plus our hosts, the UNSW.

To take advantage of the Web Hot Specials or simply to stay up to date with developments see: http://www.pgcsymposium.com/

Two events not to miss

Two events in Melbourne not to be missed!

1: IPMD Melbourne:

First on the 14th November – Melbourne’s first ever International Project Management Day breakfast.


To preview Dr Amantha Imber, the breakfast keynote speaker’s thoughts on innovation and creativity see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfUNp9LABhU.  Want more?  Download the event PDF and book your breakfast from: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/ftp/IPMD_14th%20Nov_Melbourne%20Event.pdf

Unfortunately I cannot make the breakfast – we are running our last PMP and CAPM courses for the year that week (starting 11th November) and as a scheduler, know being in two places at the same time is difficult. For more on the training see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-Schedule.html

2: Making Sense of Schedule Risk Analysis – Free Event

Second, on the 20 November, international risk management expert, Tony Welsh, President of Barbecana Inc and developer of the Full Monte risk analysis tool is the speaker at the AIPM Project Controls SIG (PC-SIG) meeting to be held at The Water Rat Hotel, 256 Moray Street, South Melbourne: http://www.thewaterrathotel.com.au/, on Wednesday 20th November (start 5.30pm). There is no catering for the forum but interested participants are invited to pre- and post-forum drinks at the bar (after all it is a pub!!).

This is a free event open to anyone with an interest in project controls, however, to make sure there’s adequate seating we are asking you to register with AIPM at http://www.aipm.com.au/iMIS/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=VI131120&zbrandid=2139&zidType=CH&zid=5168408&zsubscriberId=505907810&zbdom=http://aipm.informz.net (the event is free). But as long as you don’t mind the risk of standing, pre-registration is not essential. And I definitely will be attending this event.

Why collaborative time management matters

A survey of the UK construction industry by NBS, part of RIBA Enterprises, has revealed an increase in the number of disputes over the last 12 months. And that disputes over extensions of time outweighed any other reason

The second annual NBS National Construction Contracts and Law Survey was carried out in June in July 2013. Undertaken with the help of the membership of more than 20 industry bodies, the survey of over 1,000 clients, contractors and consultants found that 30% had been involved in one or more contract entering into dispute in the last 12 months compared to 24% in the previous year.

It is also clear from the NBS survey that many disputes involve large sums of money and have a significant effect on the construction process.

Respondents were asked to identify the main causes of disputes in 2012, with “extensions of time” being named by just under half the sample, at 49%. Other reasons included defective work, named by one in three (32%), valuation of interim payments (16%) and contractual terms (6%).

Another question asked the sample to identify the issues that had caused most problems during the construction phases of projects in 2012. “Assessment of delay and extension of time” emerged as the most problematic issue, identified by 44% of clients, 63% of contractors, and 48% of consultants.

“Lateness in payment” was named by 9% of clients, 34% of contractors and 20% of consultants.

On actual disputes, 70% said that none of the projects they worked on in 2012 had seen a dispute, by 17% had been involved in one disputed project, 6% had involvement in two, and 7% had been involved in three or more.

The survey found that collaboration was far from the norm, and therefore failing to reduce the number of disputes. 49% of those questioned said that they had not used any collaboration techniques on projects that started in 2012.

When the remaining 51% was questioned further on collaboration, 32% had worked on projects with formal partnering arrangements, 12% on projects with alliancing agreements and 20% on projects with non-binding partnering charters.

But the most common form of collaboration was “a contract that included the ethos of trust and mutual collaboration”, at 61%, although the report’s authors question how effective this would be.

One solution to this problem launched in 2013 is the new CIOB Complex Projects Contract which includes the requirement for effective schedule management (read the post) and is backed up by the CIOB PTMC time management certification (see more on the certification).

Making Sense of Schedule Risk Analysis – Free Event

Mosaic Project Services is pleased to be supporting a free AIPM Project Controls SIG  (PC-SIG) meeting to be held at The Water Rat Hotel, 256 Moray Street, South Melbourne VIC, 3205: http://www.thewaterrathotel.com.au/

Date: Wednesday 20 November 2013,  Start 5.30 pm – Start (note earlier start time) Finish 7.00 pm –  There is no catering for the forum but interested participants are invited to pre and  post- forum drinks at the bar (after all it is a pub!!).

The agenda for the meeting is:

  • 17:30 Welcome to the AIPM SIG COP
  • 17:35 AIPM News – John Williams
  • 17:40 Project Controls Developments – Pat Weaver
  • 17:45 Presentation “Making Sense of Schedule Risk Analysis” – Tony Welsh
  • 18:45 Wrap up
  • 18:50 Close (after-meeting drinks/ dinner option)

The main presenter is Tony Welsh, President, Barbecana Inc. http://www.barbecana.com

Tony was one of the founders of Welcom (producer of Open Plan and Cobra) back in 1983.  He sold the company to Deltek in 2006 and has recently started a new company, Barbecana.


Tony grew up in South East London and holds degrees in physics from Oxford University and in operations research from the London School of Economics. His career began at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) under the direction of John Lawrence, a leading light in operations research (O.R.) and editor of the British O.R. Society journal. His work focused on sales forecasting, media scheduling, and measuring the affects of advertising.

Since 1980, Tony has been involved exclusively with project management software, for most of that time at the company he co-founded, Welcom. During that time he has been personally responsible for, among other things, the development of no less than four schedule risk analysis systems.

His paper will start with a brief discussion of the nature of uncertainty and how we measure it, the validity of subjective estimates, and why schedule uncertainty is different and more complex than cost uncertainty.  This will include an explanation of the phenomenon of merge bias.

It will go on to explain how Monte Carlo simulation works and why it is the only valid way to deal with schedule uncertainty.  Reference will be made specifically to uncertainty relating to task durations, resource costs, and project calendars.

The main part of the paper will deal with how to determine the input data, including correlations, and how to interpret the results, including estimated frequency function, cumulative frequency function, and percentile points.

The paper will conclude with a discussion of sensitivity analysis, its value, and the difficulty of doing it properly.

This event is a rare opportunity for Australian based project controls professionals in and around Melbourne to engage with one of the founders of the project controls profession, still active in developing and advancing our skills and knowledge.

To help manage numbers you are asked to register with AIPM at?  http://www.aipm.com.au/iMIS/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=VI131120&zbrandid=2139&zidType=CH&zid=5168408&zsubscriberId=505907810&zbdom=http://aipm.informz.net  (the event is free).  But as long as you don’t mind the risk of standing, pre-registration is not essential.

As the event sponsor, my hope is we have a really good turnout for the event and look forward to seeing you at The Water Rat – there’s plenty of street parking and the pub is on the #1 tram route.

Construction Management Update

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)  has been working to advance the profession of construction management for nearly 190 years and this work is continuing apace.  At its series of annual meetings held in Yorkshire in June, several major developments were moved forward significantly.

In a rapidly globalising industry, the accreditation of the Chartered grades of CIOB membership at QCF level 6, which is comparable to an Honours Degree will help mobility and professional recognition, particularly by government agencies.  Even better news is the membership processes only need minor adjustments to lift the Chartered Member (MCIOB) to QCF Level 7 a qualification comparable to a Masters Degree and the Fellows (FCIOB) to QCF Level 8, which is comparable to a Doctorate.  This recognition granted by the UK NARIC is recognised by equivalent accreditation bodies in a wide range of countries including Australia (NVQ), the USA and other ENIC members.  For more see http://www.ecctis.co.uk/naric/news%20story.aspx?NewsID=282

Work of many years to define and differentiate construction management from project management also took another step forward. Construction management is a broad discipline focused on the creation, maintenance and eventual disposal of assets in the built environment (see the CIOB Definition).

Project management focuses on the efficient execution of a project. There are obviously many construction projects where the two disciplines overlap, but construction management is extends to be involved with the work of the client prior to the initiation of the project and to facilities management once the asset has been built. (For more on the difference see Construction Management -v- Project Management).  In June, a resolution to recognise Chartered Construction Managers was passed at an EGM and is now awaiting ratification by the Privy Council.

With the formal recognition of CIOB’s qualifications, the definition of construction management and the work to have the designation Chartered Construction Manager nearing completion the standing of the profession in the 21st century has been significantly enhanced.

A paper I have planned for 2014 on the ‘Origins of Construction Management’ will argue that this discipline has been at the forefront of the development of management practice for over 5000 years and the good work continues.

The next area of ongoing development is Building Information Modelling (BIM).  The CIOB is at the forefront of the work to bring this game changing way of working into general use.  The overall BIM framework closely matches the concepts of construction management discussed above focused on achieving through life efficiencies in built assets. In April, CIOB launched the first general form of contract specifically designed for use on projects implementing BIM (see more on CPC2013). For more on BIM see our White Paper  and visit the UK BIM Taskgroup.

Closely aligned to the efficiencies promised by BIM, CIOB’s Carbon 2050 initiative has also been refreshed.  Carbon 2050 is a suite of tool designed to help any organisation from designers and consultants to general contractors implement plans to reduce their carbon footprint. For more on Carbon 2050 see http://www.carbonaction2050.com/.

Finally a number of initiatives were discussed to enhance the project time management framework and promote access to the Project Time Management Certificate. These initiatives are expected to be in place before the next two courses scheduled for Perth on the 30th Oct. and Melbourne on the 20th Nov. For more on the PTMC accreditation see http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-CIOB_PTMC.html.

This has been a busy couple of months but overall great progress has been made on a number of key initiatives.

The Schedule Compliance Risk Assessment Methodology (SCRAM)

SCRAM is an approach for identifying risks to compliance with the program schedule, it is the result of a collaborative effort between Adrian Pitman from the Australian Department of Defence, Angela Tuffley of RedBay Consulting in Australia, and Betsy Clark and Brad Clark of Software Metrics Inc. in the United States.

SCRAM focuses on schedule feasibility and root causes for slippage. It makes no judgment about whether or not a project is technically feasible. SCRAM can be used:

  • By organisations to construct a schedule that maximizes the likelihood of schedule compliance.
  • To ensure common risks are addressed before the project schedule is baselined at the commencement of a project.
  • To monitor project status, performed either ad hoc or to support appropriate milestone reviews
  • To evaluate challenged projects, to assess the likelihood of schedule compliance, root cause of schedule slippage and recommend remediation of project issues

Whilst the documentation is intensely bureaucratic, the concepts in SCRAM move beyond the concepts embedded in processes such as the DCMA 14 point checklist  to asking hard questions about the requirements of stakeholders and how effectively risk has been addressed before baselineing the schedule.

The SCRAM concept is freely available.  The SCRAM Process Reference Model (PRM) and a Process Assessment Model (PAM) documents are available for immediate download from: https://sites.google.com/site/scramsitenew/home

For more on schedule risk assessment and compliance assessment see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Planning.html#S-Risk