I’m helping in a quest to define the origins of Rolling Wave Planning. Who invented it where and when??
The concept has been enhanced by the introduction of the concept Schedule Density* in the Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex.
The difference being Rolling Wave tends to focus on increasing the level of detail, whereas Schedule Density requires both a defined increase in the level of detail and the proactive adjustment of the schedule logic to retain the overall project objectives.
But were did ‘Rolling Wave’ come from???
*for more on Schedule Density see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1016_Schedule_Density.pdf
Developing an effective schedule for a complex project is an art. The schedule has to be an effective communication medium at many different levels:
- Communicating strategy and the overall concepts of the project to senior management (ideally on one page)
- Providing direction to managers within the project on what’s required of their section (eg, design or procurement)
- Coordinating issues between sections
- Providing details of the work to be done this week by maybe 2000+ people.
The Guide to Good Practice in the Effective Management of Time in Complex Construction Projects (CIOB, publication mid 2010) invokes two concepts to achieve this task. The first is the idea of ‘schedule density’ discussed in my November ’09 post. The final draft of the standard maintains the recommendations of planning the overall project at ‘low density’, expand the work for the next 9 months to ‘medium density’ and the next 3 months at ‘high density’.
The second concept is the idea of schedule levels, potentially aligned to a WBS. The schedule levels in the standard are very similar in definition to those in Mosaic’s Planning White Paper, ‘Schedule Levels’ this means the CIOB standard is generally aligned with long established practices pioneered by Bechtel, Flour and other major contractors.
Melding these two ideas into a plan for the management of schedules on a major project is not so straightforward, particularly once the role of individual contractors is taken into account. The diagram below, Figure 7 in the final draft, shows one possible solution:
CIOB Schedule Levels / WBS
Using dynamic linking between the different schedules in the coloured boxes the intent of both levels and density can be accommodated.
If this is achieved, the project schedule should change from a static tool used as evidence in disputes after the event to a proactive management tool focused on achieving the best possible time for completion of the project. Which was after all, the reason CIOB started on this task and why many volunteers from around the world (including me) have been happy to contribute time and resources.
Even if you are not in the construction industry, this standard will be a valuable resource – watch this space for news of its publication!
I have mentioned the work being done by the CIOB (UK) to develop a practice standard for scheduling in a few posts. This valuable work is now at the public comment stage and has a number of really innovative ideas.
The concept of schedule density contained in the CIOB ‘guide’ is not dissimilar to rolling wave planning but has far more practical advice.
The concept is based on the idea that it is practically impossible to fully detail a schedule for a complex project at ‘day 1’ – too many factors are unknown or still to be developed. The CIOB advice is to plan the overall project at ‘low density’, expand the work for the next 9 months to ‘medium density’ and plan the next 3 months at ‘high density’.
Schedule Density Over Time
Low density activities may be several moths in duration. Medium density activities are no longer than 2 months and focused on one type of work in one specific location. High density activities are fully resourced, with a planned duration no longer than the schedule update period and with specific workers allocated.
Activites are expanded to increase density
As the ‘density’ of the schedule is increased, the plan takes into account the current status of the work, current production rates and what is required to achieve the overall objective of the project.
This approach has a range of advantages over more traditional ways of scheduling not the least of which is engaging the people who will be responsible for doing the work in the next 2 to 3 months in the detailed planning of ‘their work’.