Monthly Archives: June 2022

Do project plans predict or create the future?

Our latest article, Is Planning Predictive or Persuasive suggests that project controls staff and management place too much emphasis on attempting to develop the ‘perfect plans’ that accurately predicts future outcomes (a passive process that is doomed to failure), and not enough on using the planning and scheduling processes to proactively influence the direction of the project’s future work.

Download Is Planning Predictive or Persuasive from:

CPI Stability Myth

As part of an on-going project to publish a history of EVM (target August 2022) I’m reviewing a lot of resources accumulated over a number of years. One of the first outputs is an update to our paper The CPI Stability Myth – this review and update draws on a number of new resources to show where the research is applicable, where the 20% stability myth does not apply.

Download from:

The First Dry Docks

The First Dry Docks is the final paper in a short series looking at the civil engineering aspects of transport projects prior to the industrial revolution:  

Basin 6 after excavation. (Courtesy of Nanjing Municipal Museum)

Other papers in the series include:

The need to clean, repair and maintain ships has been a challenge from the time merchant and military vessels became too heavy to simply drag up a beach, to a position above the water. One of the early solutions to this challenge involved using the change in water level caused by the tide to assist the maintenance process, another was to increase the pulling power by using animals and simple machines. Other solutions involved creating basins that could be closed to the sea and drained; initially these were temporary structures intended for one-off use, then in 1495 the first reusable dry dock was constructed at Portsmouth Dockyard in the UK.

These and other linked papers can be downloaded from The evolution of construction management:

The evolution of South Melbourne

As many people know I have an interest in the history and development of project, and construction, management:  This includes an interest in the way the built environment is created, adapted, and evolves.

We have lived and worked in modern-day South Melbourne for the last 20+ years, so I thought it was time to focus on history closer to home…… using images of maps I’ve found over the years that show the development of our suburb during its relatively short existence.

The city of Melbourne was founded on the North bank of the Yarra River in 1835. Within 20 years, the road pattern for Emerald Hill had been established (now South Melbourne) and the rail lines to Port Melbourne and St. Kilda built.  This map shows the area in 1855:

By 1880 tram lines were under construction connecting through to the city:

The shops in the background are different but the buildings remain unchanged.

By 1890 most of the features recognizable today were in place (Albert Park is the location of the Melbourne F1 race each year):

Thirty years later in 1921 the tram network was established. Most of the tram lines are still operational and the railways have been converted to light rail and join the tram network in the city:

Fast forward to 2022 and apart from changes in the municipal boundaries, not much has changed:

And South Melbourne is still a great place to live and work.

The First Railway Projects.

Transport projects in the United Kingdom predate the industrial revolution by several centuries. This paper, The First Railway Projects looks at the building of some of the earliest railway projects (horse drawn wagonways) in the period from the 16th century (Elizabeth I) to the 18th century to identify where possible the contractual and management processes used in their construction.  

The engineering know-how accumulated in the 250-year period covered in The First Railway Projects, underpinned the rapid expansion of steam powered railways in the early part of the 19th century. The updated timeline included in Cost Overruns on Early Canal & Railway Projects shows the first viable steam locomotive was built in 1812, the first public railway opened in 1821, the first intercity railway opened in 1830, and some 6000 miles of railway had been built by the 1850s.

As part of this project looking at early transport projects in the UK, the other linked papers in this section of the Mosaic website have been augmented and updated an two more reference papers, one on canals and navigations, the other on railways have been added to the page, see:

CPM Anomalies Invalidate Monte Carlo

A couple of weeks ago I posted on some of the anomalies in CPM logic that will cause unexpected results: CPM Scheduling – the logical way to error #1. A comment on the post by Santosh Bhat started me thinking about the effect of these logical constructs on risk analysis.

The various arrangement of activities and links shown in CPM Scheduling – the logical way to error #1 (with the addition of a few more non-controlling links) follow all of the scheduling rules tested by DCMA and other assessments. The problem is when you change the duration of a critical activity, there is either no effect or the reverse effect on the overall schedule duration.

In this example, the change in the overall project duration is the exact opposite of the change in the duration of Activity B (read the previous post for a more detailed explanation).  For this discussion, it is sufficient to know that an increase of 2 weeks in the duration of ‘B’ results in a reduction of the overall project duration of 2 weeks (and vice-versa).

The effect these anomalies on the voracity of a Monte Carlo analysis is significant. The essence of Monte Carlo is to analyze a schedule 100s of times using different activity durations selected from a pre-determined range that represents the uncertainty associated with each of the identified risks in a schedule. If the risk event occurs, or is more serious, the affected activity duration in increased appropriately (see more on Monte Carlo). 

In addition to calculating the probability of completing by any particular date, most Monte Carlo tools also generate tornado charts showing the comparative significance of each risk included in the analysis and its effect on the overall calculation.  For example, listing the risks that have the strongest correlation between the event occurring and the project being delayed.  

Tornado charts help the project’s management to focus on mitigating the most significant risks.

When a risk is associated with an activity that causes on of the anomalies outlined in CPM Scheduling – the logical way to error #1 the consequence is a reduction in the accuracy of the overall probability assessments, and more importantly to reduce the significance of the risk in tornado charts. The outcome of the anomalous modelling is to challenge the fundamental basis of Monte Carlo. There are more examples of similar logical inconsistencies, that will devalue Monte Carlo analysis, included in Section 3.5 of Easy CPM.

Easy CPM is designed for schedulers that know how to operate the tools efficiently, and are looking to lift their skills to the next level. The book is available for preview, purchase (price $35), and immediate download, from:

Early Canal Projects

Early Canal Projects looks at some of the earliest canal and navigation projects constructed in the United Kingdom and where possible the contractual and management processes used in their construction are identified. The paper is intended to augment the information contained in:

Most of the projects covered in this paper pre-date the start of the canal boom and the industrial revolution by several centuries.

Download the full paper and see more on the history of construction management: