The UN/CEFACT format for project data

The UN/CEFACT format for project data is an XML schema that standardizes schedule, cost, and earned value data from organization to organization no matter the software used to input the information.

UN/CEFACT is a subcommittee of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). It is an official intergovernmental standards organisation connected to ISO. The goal of the UN/CEFACT is to improve worldwide cooperation by facilitating trade and electronic business by developing international EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) standards for electronic trade documents in XML format.

UN/CEFACT XML is the current data standard used for an Integrated Program Management Report (IPMR). The US Department of Defense implement this standard via Format 6 of DI-MGMT-81861. The IPMR’s primary value to the Government is its utility in reflecting current contract status and projecting future contract performance. It will be used by the DoD component staff, including program managers, engineers, cost estimators, and financial management personnel, as a basis for communicating performance status with the contractor.

The DoD IPMR contains data for measuring cost and schedule performance on acquisition contracts. It is structured around seven formats that contain the content and relationships required for the electronic submissions.
Format 1 defines cost and schedule performance data by product oriented Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
Format 2 defines cost and schedule performance data by the contractor’s organizational structure (e.g., Functional or Integrated Product Team (IPT)).
Format 3 defines changes to the Performance Measurement Baseline (PMB).
Format 4 defines staffing forecasts.
Format 5 is a narrative report used to provide the required analysis of data contained in Formats 1 to 4 and 6.
Format 6 defines and contains the contractor’s Integrated Master Schedule (IMS).
Format 7 defines the time-phased historical & forecast cost submission.

With this weight of interest and support, the UN/CEFACT format for project data will become increasingly important and already a number of organizations, including Acumen are now offering a free, web-based file converter to translate proprietary schedule information into the XML format (see: http://www.projectacumen.com/news-item/acumen-launches-un-cefact-file-converter/).

At the moment the UN/CEFACT format seems to be used by clients to receive and compare project data from contractors or tenders. But I expect before long, the concept of data exchange will take hold and importing the XML file will become a standard feature on most main-line tools; however, a word of warning!

A consistent file format is not the same as a consistent analytical outcome. Different tools, different versions of the same tool and different switch settings within a singe tool can produce significant variations in the calculated results from identical data. To quote Fredric L. Plotnick, Ph.D., Esq., P.E. “Choose your Software – Choose your Options – Choose your Results”. Identical data formatting does not mean identical analysis results. We have a long way to go for standardized data analysis. For more on the analytical challenges see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF/Schedule_Calculations.pdf

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3 responses to “The UN/CEFACT format for project data

  1. Rafael Davila

    United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). It is an official intergovernmental standards organisation promoting Communist idea of a single way of thinking?

    The idea for a consistent file format for purpose of transferring data looks good to me but I do not like the idea of a standardized data analysis, it will limit creativity and will end up in favoring a few software developers as well as those who sell their own standards, killing the purpose of an open file format, if everything is standardized the difference between software will only be cosmetic. Then why not we all dress using same clothing like if in old days Communist China?

  2. Rafael Davila

    I advocate for good practice recommendations as a reference [guide] that shall not be adopted literally as if a standard. A Recommended Practice for validating resource leveled schedules I would encourage. Take for example a car and a driver, they should be assigned on an activity to work at the same time. It looks like Asta PP misses it and such recommended practice shall warn about such flaw. I understand MSP 16 Preview is even worst as it does not solve resource all resource over-allocations.

  3. Daniel Brenner

    Its not about communist China, but its about being able to import and export data from one tool to another, as this does not work for all tools, especially not for those who sell their own standards.

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