GAO Schedule Assessment Guide released

GAO-TimeOn 22nd December, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued the final version of its Schedule Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Project Schedules (GAO-16-89G), this guide is a companion the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide published in 2009. The Government Accountability Office is an independent, nonpartisan, agency that exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities, and works to improve the performance of federal government programs.

The Schedule Assessment Guide applies to civilian and defence projects managed by either government entities or private contractors in the USA; it is also an extremely valuable reference for all projects world-wide. On its release, Gene Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO said “A well-planned schedule is an essential tool for program management. The best practices described in the guide are intended to help agencies create and maintain schedules that are comprehensive, well-constructed, credible, and controlled.”

Over the last 5 years, the GAO has worked with experts in cost estimating, scheduling, and earned value management from government agencies, private industry, and academia to develop and formalise scheduling the best practices outlined in the Schedule Assessment Guide. The ten best practices associated with a high-quality and reliable schedule defined in the Schedule Assessment Guide are:

  1. Capturing all activities. The schedule should reflect all activities necessary to accomplish a project’s objectives, including activities both the owner and the contractors are to perform.
  2. Sequencing all activities. All activities must be logically sequenced and linked. Date constraints and lags should be minimised and justified.
  3. Assigning resources to all activities. The schedule should reflect the resources (labour, materials, travel, facilities, equipment, and the like) needed to do the work.
  4. Establishing the duration of all activities. The schedule should realistically reflect how long each activity will take. Schedules that contain planning and summary planning packages as activities will normally reflect longer durations until broken into work packages or specific activities.
  5. Verifying that the schedule can be traced horizontally and vertically. The schedule should be horizontally traceable with “hand-offs” defined. And vertically traceable; lower-level schedules are clearly consistent with upper-level schedule milestones.
  6. Confirming that the critical path is valid. The schedule should identify the program’s critical path.
  7. Ensuring reasonable total float. The schedule should identify reasonable total float on activities.
  8. Conducting a schedule risk analysis. Using a statistical simulation to predict the level of confidence in meeting a program’s completion date. Programs should include the results of the schedule risk analysis in constructing an executable baseline schedule.
  9. Updating the schedule using actual progress and logic. Progress updates and logic provide a realistic forecast of start and completion dates for program activities. Maintaining the integrity of the schedule logic is necessary to reflect the true status of the program.
  10. Maintaining a baseline schedule. A baseline schedule is the basis for managing the program scope, the time period for accomplishing it, and the required resources. Program performance is measured, monitored, and reported against the baseline schedule.

In its 224 pages the Schedule Assessment Guide provides detailed explanations of each of the best practices, supported by case studies and includes ‘key questions’ and the ‘key documentation’ to be used by auditors in assessing schedule compliance.

The development of the Schedule Assessment Guide has been lead by 2014 PGCS keynote presenter Karen Richey, her presentation to the symposium outlining the challenges faced by the USA government auditors can be downloaded from:
(see more on the Project Governance and Controls Symposium).

The Schedule Assessment Guide validates many of the concepts defined in our scheduling papers and the CIOB Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects , see:

To download your copy of the Schedule Assessment Guide go to:

68 responses to “GAO Schedule Assessment Guide released

  1. I found it to be a poor guide.

    It fails to emphasize it is a guide and not a set of unbreakable rules.

    There are some rules that are in error:

    That resources cannot be assigned to milestones precludes the production of resources via milestones that are driven by how the work progress rather than by fixed dates. There is no clear distinction between hammocks and summary activities, it is mostly software dependent. Not allowing for resource leveling at summary bars might preclude the modeling of Spatial Resources in the lack of alternate methods such as using Consumable Resources for this purpose. It talks about taking consideration of materials but do not provide any guidance on how to handle Consumable Resources/materials leveling.

    It looks like GAO is stuck on outdated software and theories of the 1970’s. To me there is no excuse for GAO missing so much.

  2. This is not a reference to be used world-wide because it is so narrow I cannot understand their definition of skills. With good skill functionality the model shall be able to substitute skills resources automatically. If the available skill is a multi-resource then the substitution can be several resources with different production rates for a single one, but a selection that makes sense not at random.

    It is like their vision is limited geographically to an American Indian reservation, a complete disregard to more advanced American, Australian, English and Russian software to whatever crap they are using as a reference.

  3. I’m not sure how you managed to read the Guide in the time available or even understand you problem Rafael. There should be no software considerations in this type of guide. Putting resources onto summary bars and levelling is a disaster in any situation (for teh same reason resources on Hammocks are never levelled). Milestones are zero duration events – they do not exist in time and therefore cannot have resources allocated (but may represent a payment point).

    The fact you disagree with some of the minor technical details does not invalidate the document. I still believe it is a major advance over the empirical checking systems such as the DCMA 14 point list and the various software tools that use similar approaches.

  4. Putting resources onto summary bars and levelling is a disaster in any situation (for teh same reason resources on Hammocks are never levelled).

    This statement is precisely one of those in error. That you ndo not like it does not make it right. For decades Microsoft Project Summary Activities have been able to be resource leveled. Primavera P6 gave it up because as they say it was too difficult for them. One of the few ways to resource level Spatial Resources is via Consumable Resources and another is via Resource Leveling Hammocks. The vision of this assessment guide is myopic and leaves the scheduler with no option than to use archaic models when you have more capable software.

    • This comment suggests your understanding of the problems associated with resource levelling is extremely limited. To understand the issues and problems with Microsoft Project in particular I suggest you invest in one of Paul Harris’s books.

  5. Milestones are zero duration events – they do not exist in time and therefore cannot have resources allocated (but may represent a payment point).

    This is another myopic statement, beside costs, milestones can be resource loaded with consumable resources as a way to increase or delete their availability but it looks like the authors of this guide are not aware of the existence of consumable resources. Imagine what the interpretation of this can be if someone also unaware of this try to mandate such erroneous practice.

  6. Same as consumable resource production, renewable resource production can be driven by milestones making it a better model than using a 1 minute duration activity for the same purpose. GAO shall know better and understand these methodologies that have been in use for years by practitioners that use more advanced software.

  7. Whist I am aware some software allows all sorts of crazy things how can you allocate a physical resource to a event that does not exist in time? Milestones mark the beginning or the end of a period of time, not the existence of anything.

    Consumable resources only exist in one or two software tools (Micro Planner being one). Adding to a consumable resource is a specific function that has nothing to do with the use of resources or resource levelling. Anyone can find one or two specific minor circumstances that contravene any guidelines in any standard – the fact you have to go chasing esoteric points that may affect one-in-a-million schedules suggest the Guide has enormous value to most people most of the time.

  8. From:

    The P6 resource leveling process does not consider resources assigned to Level Of Effort (LOE) and WBS Summary type activities.

    But Microsoft Project can, it is not a new idea, it has been in use for years and it looks the prohibition is self serving to the interest of software incapable of doing it.

    In the lack of consumable resources consumption and production the only way it comes to my mind as to resource level Spatial Resources is via resource leveling Hammocks.

  9. The biggest mistake of the guide is that it does not highlight very clearly that guides are just guides and are not to be used as to require blind enforcement.

  10. Ironically is is a guide that does not provide much guidance. It does not provide good enough or any guidance as on how to resource level consumable resources, it does not give guidance on how to resource level spatial resources, it does not gives guidance on how to resource level financial constraints. The misses are many because it look it is based on very limited knowledge of resource planning models.

  11. It seems they all know is about renewable resources.

  12. The Guide does not provide any guidance as to when Schedule Risk Analysis shall be required. Maybe risk analysis shall be applied to all jobs as long as their value is above $0.50 US$ or activity count more than 2 where merge bias can start to occur. Leaving this issue open is ambiguous.

  13. The guide mentions that float shall be reasonable. It is a calculated value and it is what it comes out to be.

    Maybe float above 1 hour is too much, maybe 10 years is the threshold.

  14. I do not use Microsoft Project the software I use provides for resource leveling on hammocks, when resources get overloaded the resource overloads reports warns you. This warning is very important when nested hammocks are used, it might create a situation that is unfeasible and therefore the user is warned as to take corrective action, no big deal, easy and very simple, nothing esoteric here.

    Materials availability is one of the topic of the Guide, I know it is not always relevant but it was a topic mentioned by the guide and it fails to provide guidance. When materials are no longer available the activities get on hold until more become available again, anyone knows this, nothing esoteric here.

  15. The guide mentions that at times some software cannot adequately model when resources are not available at some level but the activity can be started at a slower peace, a peace is not always linear with the availability. This very common scenario is well know so it is not an esoteric thing, using variable quantity in case the relationship is linear is easy, in case it is not linear using multi-resource skills along with whole crew production rates can take care of it very easily, no big deal. The guide fails to provide some guidance as how to make models that take care of such common scenarios automatically. For my standards these are common scenarios, in no way esoteric.

  16. I take issue when a guide hijacks the schedule and prohibits procedures that allows the scheduler to make better models as if pretending to teach everyone else they know better and you nothing. I am starting to get the filling you are aligned with their snobbish attitude.

  17. Your mentioning of Microplanner reminded me of a few months ago when I tried to download the latest very old demo, it was so archaic it required using outdated operating systems and machines using 16 bit processors.

    I also recall it had a very low limit on the number of activities.

    Can you give us some light about it not being compatible with supported by Microsoft windows operating systems and the activity limit. I could not get it working on my already old 62bit Toshiba. At that time it was not a viable alternative as it did not worked on any of my machines.

    My average job uses 800 activities but when required to use portfolios of many such jobs as to resource level financial resources the limit by Microplanner looks like a joke.

  18. I think your anti-American prejudice is showing
    Logically linking both summary activities and detail activities is BAD PRACTICE; the fact some tools allow this does not change the fact it is bad practice any more then the fact some tools pretend you can go back in time and complete work last month. Summary activities are supposed to summarise the detail from below.

    If resources are leveled (as apposed to accumulated) on summary activities this means the summary activity has to control the timing of the detailed activities it is supposed to be summarising – this is illogical and BAD PRACTICE.

    Guides are for guidance this one is a major step forward.

  19. Pat I am an American citizen, something you might not be. What does this discussion have to do with patriotism? The right to discern is what makes America Great.

    If resources are leveled (as apposed to accumulated) on summary activities this means the summary activity has to control the timing of the detailed activities it is supposed to be summarising – this is LOGICAL when feasible, if not then overload report will let you know. Is very easy to understand.

    A very common resource we use at home are elevated slab forms, these are Spatial Resources that must stay in place until work on elevated slab on a building is finished, then they can be moved to next building. If some activities get delayed then the construction of some building might be delayed, this is very easily tackled by resource leveling hammocks as shown in the following reference.

    How would you tackle such schedule?

    There are many American guides regarding so called best practice, those that clearly state they are to be used as guidance and not as an unbreakable set of rules I can accept but this one fails at this.

    • If you want to control activities that are controlling a summary activity by changing the duration or timing of the activity that is supposed to be summerising the activities being effected by the supposed summary of their duration you are welcome. As far as I am concerned it is bad practice and always has been. Any guide that says so has my full support.

  20. I think poor “OLD” Rafael, has lost it

    The product is Micro Planner X-Pert, it has been processing over 15,000 activities for many years, and whilst it is true it is 16 bit it continues to operate under Windows 10, 32 bit OS on 64 bit (I do not know of a 62 bit Toshiba!). I do not see Windows 10 as being archaic, many of the Oracle products are still 16 bit Btrieve applications, but they run and continue to provide users with solutions.
    I am fully aware that Rafael touts Spider, which is a complex piece of software and for any body who is only running 800 activities is somewhat of an overkill.
    Micro Planning is currently happily selling to many MAC users using Parallel V11 and Win 8.1 32 bit. on MAC Books.

    The current version V3.5.1 allows up to 250 Resources, 500 calendars, 100 sub projects per project, as long as you do not exceed 15K records you have a very professional resource scheduling application with a fully compliant EVPM system as per AS4817:2006

    Windows 7.1 provided 32 bit operating capability on a 64 bit laptop, as has Windows 8.1 3 bit OS as does Windows 10

    If you want to operate on a 64 bit OS, then it is true you need to install VM software, such as Oracle Virtual Box, or VM Player, or Parallels. Then install a 32 bit Win OS

    These VM applications exist because a very large part of the market is still using 16 bit applications and so do many government departments who are paying big bucks to Microsoft to maintain Windows XP for the next few years

    If Rafael had read the instructions on my website where it says what to do when using a 64 bit OS laptop, how to run in a VM environment with a 32 bit OS

    I have several 64 bit laptops from Toshiba, HP, Dell and ASUS as well as SONY Viao’s I run Micro Planner X-Pert in a 32 bit environment on all of these with other 16bit and 32 bit applications which I use in my Forensic Delay Claims practice


  21. I use 64 bit operating system on an X64 based processor Intel i5 with 8 GB RAM. Because of the limit 32 bit operating system impose on RAM, I consider 32 bit systems archaic as I frequently run several applications at the same time to move information among the applications. Frequently I must keep open several versions of my schedule at the same time for comparison purposes and this can slow the computer if using 32 bit system.

    Downgrading to a 32 bit is not a good option. As a matter of fact I do not have any spare license for a 32 bit operating system because I used them to upgrade from Windows 7 pro 64 bit to Windows 10 pro 64 bit OS.

    I also used virtualization before but it was inefficient having to move from current machine to virtual machine. Re-sizing the window of the virtual machine was poorly implemented by the windows operating system and very slow.

    For my portfolios of many 700 activities jobs the 15,000 k records limit might be unacceptable, especially if by this you mean any single line on each of the database table represents a record.

    I do not understand your unwillingness to upgrade your software to be fully compatible with a 62 bit operating system and make life easier to all your users as well as to those willing to explore your software.

  22. The need to resource level Spatial Resources is not knew. For decades there has been American software commercially available that can handle spatial resources, one of them is Aurora. Last time I contacted Aurora their price was a bare $200,000 US$ per installation that included 10 licenses.

    This is an option to model Spatial Resources in an efficient way that dynamically takes care of the temporal relationships resource leveling algorithms create.

    – “Spatial resources are required by a group of activities, rather than a single activity as renewable resources. The spatial resource is occupied from the first moment an activity from the group starts until the finish of all activities from that group.”

    Leveling Spatial Resources requires leveling a group of activities, in schduling jargon leveling a Hammock or Summary Task.

    I do not believe that what Boeing and NASA is doing is anti-American or bad practice. On the contrary, what they are doing, looking for the advancement of out technologies and keeping a vision for open markets is the American Way.

    I have a taste for champagne but a pocket for “Mavi”, an inexpensive sugar cane extract that is somewhat fermented. I do not use or like Microsoft Project American software but at least it can efficiently tackle Spatial Resources, something Primavera P6 American software that cannot dream to do with dynamic temporal relationships. I have a global vision and use the best option that fits my needs and my economic reality.

    • You do not need to advocate bad practice to achieve the simple requirement to deal with what you call ‘spatial resources’ – most other simply call resources or equipment. From the perspective of the Schedule Assessment Guide, all you are waffling on about is 4 lines on page 53 out of 244. The paragraph is advisory (‘should’) not mandatory (‘must’). Summary activities should summarize not control.

  23. Reading this discussion I discovered:
    – that criticising American Guide means anti-American prejudice,
    – that few (1 or 2) PM software can deal with consumable resources (I don’t mean leveling),
    – that milestones (that usually reflect some schedule events) do not exist in time (what does it mean?),
    – that assigning resources to hammocks is always bad,
    – that spatial resource is the same as equipment,
    – that Spider Project is a complex piece of software and for anybody who is only running 800 activities is somewhat of an overkill.
    Thanks, I am looking forward for new discoveries.

    • Very cute Vladimir,

      1 – the attack on the Schedule Assessment Guide by your colleague Rafael Davila was highly biased and based on his prejudices and biases.
      2 – Agree
      3 – You know as well as I do a Milestone has a Zero duration and in calculation has no duration, it represents an instance. Multiply any resource by zero and the quantity is zero.
      4 – Totally incorrect – allocating resources to summary activities is bad.
      5 – Yes in the examples used by Rafael (but working space can be a resource).
      6 – not my comment.

  24. Vlad
    As you well know, Micro Planner X-Pert handles Consumable resource scheduling, both Deadline critical and Resource critical Resource Analysis and Scheduling.

    In addition X-Pert allows an activity to create a resource as a result of work carried out by that activity which results in a product being produced.
    Also where a consumable resource is used, and runs out, X-Pert will allow the replenishment of that resource

    • 1. I do consider the disagreement with some statements as an attack. It is good that different opinions may be discussed.
      2. I cannot imagine PM software that is used for construction management and does not permit to enter consumable resources (materials). I am sure (and Rafael Dua confirmed this) that MicroPlanner Xpert, MS Project, P6, Spider Project work with consumable resources. Consumable resource leveling is rare functionality but consumable resources exist in many packages.
      3. Milestones have zero duration and represent some events. Examples of such event include arrival of certain resources to construction site (resource are produced), an event that may happen only if certain resource is available (approval or similar) – this can be modeled as an activity that have short duration but it is more convenient to use milestone for further filtering, sorting, etc , in particular for creating milestone plan). In any case to forbid this does not look logical.
      4. Hammocks are not the same as summary activities and assigning resources to hammocks is most usual thing. Several examples: security team guards construction site from the beginning to the end of construction, site managers are not assigned to construction crews on all activities but work on hammocks from the start to the finish of their crews work, etc.
      5. Spatial resources may be modeled as resources but their assignments have certain specificity. If to assign the room to all activities that require this room resource leveling may create the situation when some crew does something, then leaves the romm to free the space for another crew, then return to continue their work, then leave again, etc. It is reasonable to create the schedule where the crew that starts to work in some room will do all necessary work and then leave the room for the next crew. So spatial resource may be assigned to the hammock that starts when the crew starts the work in the certain romm and finishes when the crew work in the room is over. Only then this spatial resource may be used on the hammock of another crew. It is natural way that is realistic.
      6. Software selection depends not on the project size but on functionality that is needed. Project may be small but include working in shifts, space restrictions, variable resource assignments, skill assignments, material supply limitations, funding constraints and limited resources. This is a small list but even these requirements are sufficient for selecting Spider Project even if the number of project activities is just several hundreds.

      Pat, I would be happy to discuss further any of the above points.

      • There is a lot of good information in your post Vladimir but the discussion has drifted away from its starting point.

        The two reasons Rafael Davila used to stat the the GAO Schedule Assessment Guide was no good were the recommendation in the Schedule Assessment Guide that resources should not be allocated to Milestones or Summary activities. I strongly concur with this recommendation.

        Summary activities (not Hammocks) are supposed to summarize the underlying detail not control the underlying detail – if they are logically linked and/or used for resource leveling they are a controlling function not a summation function – the two processes are mutually exclusive.

        Adding resource to milestones is equally bad – if you are receiving 500,000 bricks on site to add to a consumable resource this is a logistical process and should be scheduled properly. Other resources will be involved in receiving, unloading, stockpiling, etc.

        But as I’ve pointed out on several occasions, the 4 lines in the 244 pages that refer to this in the Schedule Assessment Guide are advisory, not mandatory.

        Generally I agree with your other points. But I also thing the Schedule Assessment Guide is an extremely useful advance in the overall process of improving scheduling and steps beyond the simple conformance approach used in the various tools such as Acumen Fuse.

  25. Pingback: New PM Articles for the Week of December 28 – January 3 - The Practicing IT Project Manager

  26. Pat, I did not read yet this Guidelines and so have no an are not true.opinion, but some statements that I’ve seen are not true.

    If by summary activities understand project phases then Spider Project also does not permit to assign costs and resources to these WBS items. Our reason is different – Spider Project permits to create and to use many parallel WBS for the same project and project phase existing in one WBS may be absent in another. But hammocks or LOE activities exist in any WBS and assigning resources to hammocks is usual and useful.

    I don’t agree with the ban to assign resources to milestones. In your example an arrival of bricks to construction site is an event and other activities depend on the timing of this event. Resource production covers not only materials but also people, machines, etc. (mobilization). I see no problems in using resource loaded milestones, And if some event may happen only if certain resource is available the easiest way to model this is assigning this resource to milestone.

    Any Guide is useful when it provides good advises but does not pretend that its statements are always the best and the only ways. Statements like this create poor attitude to the whole publication. I hope that this Guide is better than others of that kind but looking at Rafael posts I am afraid that it also prescribes some practices that may be good only for certain projects and certain software.

  27. Raphael,
    I did not have any doubts that MicroPlanner Xpert handles material resources.
    Best Regards,

  28. Vladimir,

    I hope I can post again here, if not never mind 🙂

    You said, “And if some event may happen only if certain resource is available the easiest way to model this is assigning this resource to milestone.”

    I have done it before as to control some requirements such as the start of an activity after any 2 out of 3 predecessors are completed or started. In this case using a milestone I can produce or increase the availability of a marker resource with an activity type that consumes no time, then only after enough are created the activity can start, easy.

    Even if the guides is improved as to communicate unambiguously it is just a guide you can use it if you like it or discard if not, it still have some errors and omissions that are very relevant and can be cause of some misguidance a few might be willing to accept. Our courts accept as valid any schedule that is viable and meets contractual requirements, it does not require strict adherence of arbitrary rules. All the contractor needs to prove is that the schedule is viable.

    The guide fails to mention when the Agency or Contractor shall make use of a Ghost Schedule. Yes both, Agency or Contractor, missing one would be biased.

    Click to access MON37-PPR.pdf

    One of the most dangerous of all is how ambiguous it is about the use of Baselines, it warns about the dangers of using outdated baselines while it says baselines revisions shall be rare. It fails to warn the contractors side about the dangers of accepting revised baselines as if updated plans that have no impact on contract. I perceive it as a biased guideline, good for some not good for others.

    For my standards a good guideline shall provide good and impartial guidance to all sectors and not avoid warning about the pitfalls.

    Let’s speak openly/honestly.

    Best Regards,

    • Rafael, you clearly have no concept of a contract baseline schedule. It in not a comparative baseline held inside a tool and it is not subject to random change just because it is convenient. I suggest you actually look at the context of the Schedule Assessment Guide as a whole before making confused posts such as this.

      For the record out policy is to publish all posts received – the only exception being unduly abusive or copyright infringements – but I will comment on posts tat are misleading or where I fundamentally disagree with the proposition.

  29. Click to access AContinuouslyChanging1.pdf

    Accepted baseline schedule—The lack of an agreed upon baseline schedule during the forensic analysis made progress between the parties almost impossible.

    The contemporaneous development and maintenance of a reasonable and accurate schedule on a large project with continuously changing baseline conditions creates difficult problems for both owners and contractors. Those problems continue into the forensic analysis of the schedule.

    The baseline updates came months late.

    Definitively The Big Dig sponsors had no idea of the implication on holding Baseline Schedule, it looks this nailed everyone.

    • 90% of projects that fail don’t have a decent schedule prepared and maintained by competent planners that is actually used by the project management team and client to run the project. This GAO initiative is a step towards achieving better scheduling and reducing project failure.

  30. I do not know where you got this 90% my references say less than 5% is on the contractor’s side. Otherwise Change Orders would be minimal and Contractor Bankruptcies would run in the hundreds of thousands per year.

    Click to access CPGT166002012.pdf

    Looking for ACCOUNTABILTY ON THE 5% while not doing so on the remaining 95% is not very smart.

    Just take a look at the failures on VA jobs, here most probably the 95% lies on design issues because the agencies failed to do their job during the design stage prior to bidding.

    If we keep doing the same thing do not expect different results.

    • If you believe 95% of all contractors prepare and maintain a proper CPM schedule for their projects you are in fairy land Rafael. I suggest you get the ‘chip’ off your shoulder, actually look at the research and stop wasting people’s time with inane comments. BTW – my comment was not directed to any side of the ‘contract divide’ – the GAO document is designed for the client (government agencies) – and – it takes two to tango!

  31. The GAO document is designed for the client but at the end as usual someone will copy paste the guide and incorporate it into contract terms.

    Then the tango will be between the agency and the contractor, we are all concerned. Or is it that GAO will render us as with non-standing.

    It was not my idea to sell the guide as an interest for the rest of the world, or maybe you mean to the interests of everyone except contractors.

    • I have absolutely no idea why you are opposed to improving scheduling practice – it’s in everyone’s interest including contractors. You obviously support some aspects generally considered ‘bad practice’ such as applying resources to summary activities and milestones in preference to more disciplined approaches that can achieve exactly the same effect – it a free world and you are entitled to your opinion and your practice. For me the GAO guide is a major improvement in the currently available tools for improving scheduling and should be seriously looked at by anyone with a similar intent. But as with any guide, the ‘rules’ are for the guidance of wise people and the blind obedience of fools.

  32. The definition of what constitutes variable/fixed resources is not clear. The Guide says, Variable non-labor resources may include equipment used during the project … For example, the longer a testing activity runs, the longer the test equipment is in use.

    It is the resource usage duration what is variable not the resource quantity or workload.

    Say an activity can be scheduled to be performed by 10 bricklayers but it makes sense to start it even if only 6 are available, the team production rate will be lower and not necessarily linear but the revised activity duration can be automatically estimated similar to if using a worksheet. This is what we know as variable quantity.

    A resource can be assigned to work 50% on activity A and 50% on activity B during a same day. This we know as fixed workloads. But similar to quantity if during certain day it is not required by activity A then it might be it can be assigned to work 100% on activity B, this is variable workloads.

    As per this definition then every resource is variable because every time an activity is delayed its use change. Very confusing indeed.

  33. Rafael
    One of the nice things with X-Pert is that we have a type of activity known as Elastic, and so can do what you have just illustrated. This works for both Resource Critical Resource Scheduling as well as deadline critical resource Scheduling, add the fact we have Pool Resources which can create a resource heuristically within the application by activities which may well be manufacturing a product which is required further down the schedule.
    This allows the application to generate resources (where applicable) to allow the schedule to continue

    PS, we are rewriting X-Pert, but because all the screen handling for graphics has been totally changed by Microsoft we are having to redevelop the writing of the intense graphics which we use.

    Plus if you would like make a contribution of say $USD250K, would help us speed things up


  34. I am glad you are re-writing X-pert, nothing better for everyone than competition, it is a win win for us.

  35. Did anyone who is commenting on the schedule guide bother to read the draft document and contribute these ideas during the 2-years that it was open for public comment?

  36. David, I did not know about this document before it was published. Besides, I am not an American (though I am not anti-American). If they were interested in getting many comments it should be widely advertised. I did not meet any information on this at Planning Planet, LinkedIn, AACEI forums. What they did to get comments?

    • It was widely advertised Vladimir, including on this blog. There were over 1000 comments received and as I’ve been suggesting since Rafael’s first ill conceived criticism, it would be really useful if people actually read the GAO documents in context. Both the schedule and cost guides are of significant value to anyone interested in improving project controls performance in industry.

  37. Pat, I did not meet invitations to participate. I believe that it was widely advertised but not on sites and forums that I attend.

    • The GAO runs an open forum – if you read the documents or the GAO website you will see they are still seeking comments on the Schedule Assessment Guide and are about to launch a major update of the Cost Assessment Guide.

      • Vlad
        GAO has for a number years been one to follow as has NASA. They have done a lot of work on these specs and always welcomed comment and volunteers to comment. I fully understand that you would be frustrated at not having seen the requests a couple of years ago. I that is mostly due to the proliferation if sites all roughly saying the same thing. I know even with my years of experience it is extremely dufficult to keep up with them. Recently I havedecided drop off lot of them because due to the effluxtion of time, the requests for help and also questions seem to be repeating from the past. This means every now and again I miss something, but fortunately various good friends in this space let me know. Perhaps I should add you to my list and we can keep upto date. As David said there is still time to comment.

  38. Thanks, I expect that Rafael will use this opportunity. I don’t think that they expect to get comments from abroad. In any case if they want to get comments from the scheduling and cost management professionals they should use PMI, AACEI, Planning Planet, LinkedIn. It does not look like they really wanted wide discussion.

    • Your excessive cynicism is unwarranted – I’ve been involved (Australia), one of the key resources used as a reference was developed by the CIOB (UK), and other non USA based colleagues have been engaged in the discussions. The primary objective of the GAO is to improve USA government capabilities but this does not limit the value of their work.

  39. Thanks Vladimir, but it is a tango between two as Pat well said before. A tango between GAO and the client (government agencies).

    Pat Weaver | January 6, 2016 at 8:56 am | Reply
    If you believe 95% of all contractors prepare and maintain a proper CPM schedule for their projects you are in fairy land Rafael. I suggest you get the ‘chip’ off your shoulder, actually look at the research and stop wasting people’s time with inane comments. BTW – my comment was not directed to any side of the ‘contract divide’ – the GAO document is designed for the client (government agencies) – and – it takes two to tango.

  40. My personal experience from a claim I submitted to GAO at a VA Hospital Bid is that GAO tango alone or with the Agency, very rarely with contractors not to mention suppliers.

    The VA was requiring Scheduling software by brand instead of using performance specification and very conveniently GAO determined that suppliers to General Contractors have no standing, so they turned the face to the other side as if nothing happened.

  41. Do you mean that the Guide is irrelevant because it was written before December 2015? I believe it is a poor written document but in no way irrelevant. At the end many agencies will copy paste it into specifications so it is relevant, in this case for the bad.

    Click to access Specifications_-_VA_Specifications_for_Network_Analisys_Schedule.pdf

    Specifications that promote monopolistic practice and that are in violation of the GSA rules but nothing is done. Do you really believe it is not relevant. Well I disagree and perhaps many do but do not dare to say.

    My client was bidding for the outpatient addition, I worked on the quantity take off. I was banned by the specs from providing scheduling services because they mandated by trade name Primavera P6.

    • The GAO Guide was published on the 22nd December 2015 – if you want to keep on posting irrelevant and inane comments about anything other than the GAO Schedule Assessment guide I suggest you do so in another forum. For the record – the GAO Schedule Assessment Guide does not specify any software.

  42. US Government procurement rules [Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)] prohibit brand name specifications unless special rules are followed per each bid. These rules have been deemd to have the effect of a law by our courts.

    Click to access Specifications_-_FAR_on_Brand_Name_Specs.pdf

    We are concerned the use of brand name specifications in agency solicitations may have increased significantly in recent years, particularly for information technology procurements.

    GAO will continue to turn their face 180 degrees with regard to software as it has been have been for decades. GAO is no different to the Boston Archdioceses that turned 180 degrees their face when investigating the pedophile priests in Boston, their investigations perpetuated the practice until the Boston Globe exposed what was happening. Even for the Boston Globe it was a difficult task because the church was reluctant to disclose the documents. It is a real story I recall and the movie Spotlight is a reminder of what happened. The story of GAO for me is personal and real, I have been prevented from making a decent living for years.

    • This is of very little interest to anyone and completely irrelevant. But it does indicate why you are so biased against a document that almost everyone else sees as a very useful advance in the improvement of project controls.

  43. If this Guide is for Government then it explains why it is poor when deals with resource constrained scheduling and requirements like resource leveling shall not delay project finish. The Client usually is not involved in Contractor’s resource management and managing contract and internal schedules and budgets is Contractor’s problem. So it shall be read and estimated as the Guide for the Clients.

    • If you believe contractors are allowed to finish late because they fail to provide adequate resources your statement is correct. In most of the world the contractor is required to finish on time and has to provide sufficient resources so that a re resource loaded and leveled schedule achieves the contract completion date and does not delay completion.

  44. The guide mentions LOE and Hammocks but everyone has its own definition, everyone claims their definition is the correct definition but the guide does not provide what theirs is.

    It does not make much sense for software to have them all, and they do not. MSP provides only for Summary Activities, P6 only provides for LOE activities, they are not implemented equally and this makes a difference, especially with regard to transparency.

    The Guide says it is bad practice to resource level such activities. this essentially is an absolute ban on resource loading them because as soon as they are resource loaded they might cause resource overloads, no matter if Summary, LOE or Hammock. As soon as these are resource loaded you must deal with possible over-allocations and this is what resource leveling is about.

    They do not provide guidance on their ban to resource loading Summary, LOE or Hammock.

  45. You said – For the record – the GAO Schedule Assessment Guide does not specify any software.

    Many agencies such as the NY DOT still ban the use of other software to the point they require Contractors to use their own computer.

    As Vladimir just said -Contractor’s resource management and managing contract and internal schedules and budgets is Contractor’s problem.

    But many agencies are still messing with the above.
    As of today, after Dec 25, 2015 the above is on the NY DOT website.

    Click to access CPB11-1.pdf

    As of today, after Dec 25, 2015, the above is on California’s DOT [Caltrans] website.

    As of today, after Dec 25, 2015 scheduling software is still mandated by many agencies by trade name and GAO knows.

    • Well – perhaps if you stop whinging about the GAO Schedule Assessment Guide and actually look at its merits it may help in the debate around software use. This post IS NOT about USA government agency policies and any further posts wasting peoples time on irrelevancies will not be approved.

  46. Pingback: Free PDUs and Project Management articles for the week of 01/11 – 01/15 | PTPE

  47. Pingback: Free PDUs and Project Management articles for the week of 01/11 – 01/15 | PTPE

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