Category Archives: Uncategorized

Easy CPM launched

Easy CPM is a self-paced course-in-a-book, supported by Mosaic Project Services Pty Ltd, focused on developing and using an effective schedule in almost any software tool. For projects using EVM, Easy CPM acts as a companion to our Easy EVM focusing on developing the realistic and achievable schedule that underpins EVM and is needed for the successful delivery of all projects.

The book is intended to provide practical guidance to people involved in developing, or using, schedules based on the Critical Path Method (CPM). It is designed to act as a reference and practice guide to enhance the effectiveness of their scheduling practice after they have learned to use the CPM scheduling software of their choice.

The basic premise underpinning the development of this book is that a schedule is only useful if it is used. Creating a usable schedule requires two parallel processes:

  1. It requires a pragmatic approach to planning and scheduling the future work of a project to create a realistic and achievable schedule.
  2. It also requires management to make effective use of the schedule, which is a management challenge that typically involves a significant shift in culture and expectations.

Both of these aspects are considered in Easy CPM.

The book is divided into six sections, each section includes guidance on an aspect of CPM scheduling, references, and a set of 20 questions; with the answers in Section 7. Section 8 incorporates the appendix.

$35.00 AUD (Plus GST, Australian customers only). Size: 295 pages, 120 questions, file size 22 Mb.

Preview Easy CPM on Book2Look, or click through for more information and to buy.

See more on Easy EVM.

Where are the project control’s heros?

Just about everyone has seen the photographs of the Empire State Building being built.

But how many people know about the photographer? Lewis Wickes Hine (September 26, 1874 – November 3, 1940): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Hine

Hine on an earlier project

I’m starting to think too many project controls experts let their ‘images’ created in Primavera, or other tools, do the talking and as a consequence fade into the background. Our industry needs the next generation of leaders to be far more visible and help drive innovation and improvement in the practice of project controls and the delivery of projects and programs.

There are many opportunities to step up to the challenge, my immediate interest is the Project Governance and Controls Symposium in Canberra: https://www.pgcsymposium.org.au/ And there are many other events world-wide where you can help guide the future of project controls and management.

If you want to see more on our history, see: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-ZSY.php

EVM – Six things’ people don’t get!

Feedback from the publication of Easy EVM has highlighted how little most managers and project controls people understand about the methodology. In one respect, this is surprising given its some 55 years since Earned Value Management (EVM) was introduced in its current form. Although, given the almost impenetrable sequence of acronyms used by EVM expert’s to explain things, maybe this lack of general appreciation of the power of EVM is understandable.

Six of the biggest gaps in understanding are:

  • EVM is a performance management system based on measuring the value of work performed, its sole purpose is to facilitate better management decision making
  • EVM is NOT a financial accounting system, project cost control tool, or an incentive payment system, but does need information from the project’s accounts
  • EVM is NOT a scheduling system, but does need information from the scheduling tool
  • The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and WBS Dictionary is the heart of the EVMS
  • EVM is a lot more than simple ‘S-Curves’
  • EVM requires traceability and auditability

Implementing an EVM system requires appropriate tools, one of the biggest mistakes being to try running an EVMS in a scheduling tool – this is a recipe for disaster! The schedule is focused on time, the EVMS on value, these are very different measures of performance and need different systems to operate effectively.

These six points are expanded in our latest published article: Earned Value Management – Six things’ people don’t get! (click to download)

One of my objectives in writing Easy EVM was to cut through much of the unnecessary complexity and provide a straightforward guide to the value of using EVM on larger projects, see: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/shop-easy-evm.php

Who invented calculus?

One of the books I’ve read this year was ‘Great Feuds in Mathematics’ (see: https://www.amazon.com/Great-Feuds-Mathematics-Liveliest-Disputes/dp/1681620103) and one of the top ten ‘feuds’ was between Newton (of ‘apple’ fame) and Leibniz over who invented calculus.

I’ve just been watching a YouTube video showing the original letters involved in the dispute from around 1670 – some 550 years ago. It seems no matter where you document something, there’s a high probability of it turning up at an inconvenient moment….. The answer to the dispute, Newton was first, but the notation developed by Leibniz is the one students of calculus still use: https://youtu.be/LN–erHStqA

Every Decision is a Risk!

When a decision maker has to choose between a number of viable alternatives with the selection of the best option being influenced by information (usually insufficient) and preferences founded on values and ethics, the decision involves uncertainty and therefor incorporates an element of risk. No process can guarantee a good outcome from every decision, but working through the pragmatic process outlined in this article can help increase the probability of an acceptable outcome.

Download the article from: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/Mag_Articles/AA010_Every_decision_is_a_risk.pdf

For more on decision making see: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-TPI-010.php#Decisions

Scheduling Core Papers Updated

We’ve been working on a series of books:
Easy EVM is published: See more on the book
Easy CPM is a work in progress, publication later this year
Easy SHM will follow in 2022.

As part of the development of Easy CPM as course-in-a-book which is designed to act as a reference and practice guide for people implementing CPM scheduling after they have learned to use the CPM scheduling software of their choice. We have updated Mosaic’s ‘core scheduling papers‘; these are:
A Guide to Scheduling Good Practice
Attributes of a Scheduler
Dynamic Scheduling
Links, Lags & Ladders
Schedule Float
Schedule Levels
Schedule Calculations

These updated papers are available to download and use free of charge under a Creative Commons 3.0 license: Download the papers from https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-SCH-010.php

Transport project cost overruns are not new!

A number of researchers, particularly Bent Flyvbjerg, Chair of Major Programme Management at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School have been highlighting the consistent failure of mega-projects to deliver on budget. It appears this is not a new thing.

Working on a side-project to the publication of my Easy EVM ‘course-in-a-book’, I was looking at the origins of engineering cost management and found that under estimating engineering projects seems to have been common in the 18th century. Financial controls in both business and projects extend back into antiquity, but developing the governance and technical processes to accurately estimate new engineering works was primarily a development of the 19th and 20th centuries, but has this led to improved outcomes?

The world’s first major transport boom was the construction of several thousand kilometers of canals in the United Kingdom (mainly in the English Midlands between 1757 (the opening of the Sankey Canal near Liverpool, followed by the Bridgewater Canal near Manchester in 1761) through to the 1830s. From 1840 onward, the canals began to decline, due to competition from the growing railway network. The canal projects were largely financed by public subscription to the purchase of financial bonds. But, the accuracy of the construction cost estimates used by the canal companies to raise their capital were to say the least mixed (although many of these canals were highly profitable until supplanted by railways). A comparison of the estimate to the actual costs on a select number of canals in the table below shows an average increase in price of 2.79.

Source: Jones, T, Engineers and Their Estimates, Journal of the Franklin Institute, Franklin Institute, Philadelphia PA, Vol XXV, 1840. From The Early History of Cost Engineering John K. Hollmann, 2016: AACE® International Technical Paper

J. A. Sutcliffe, in his Treatise on Canals and Reservoirs, published by Law and Whittaker, London, 1816 has this to say at page 168 “Had the engineer told the subscribers at first what would be the fatal consequences of this canal……..; and had he given them a true statement of the expense, and a rational estimate of the probable quantity of tonnage [to be shipped on the canal], most likely the spade would never have been put into the ground; but whether giving this kind of plain, useful information, is any part of the engineer’s creed, I leave the subscribers to judge by his estimates.”  

The profession of engineering, and the sub-disciplines of estimating and cost-engineering have come a long way since the early 1800s, so why do so many major projects still end up underestimated? The canals discussed by Sutcliffe were funded by ordinary people buying bonds (and many losing their money); modern project such as the London Cross Rail are funded by ordinary people paying taxes.  What’s clear, is governance and controls issues for major engineering project have not changed much in 200 years, some projects are successful, others are not, and differentiating between the two before they start seems to be a fundamental challenge.

The failure to accurately estimate costs, risks, and revenues has been a recurring theme of Prof. Bent Flyvbjerg’s research; many of his papers are easily accessed via a Google search.   Then, once you have a reasonable cost estimate, world class controls such as properly implemented Earned Value Management (EVM) exist and are important for delivering the project on-budget; but the use of EVM is also far from common.  The objective of writing Easy EVM is to help change this by showing what’s needed to implement a pragmatic EVM system based on ISO 21508, explained in normal project/business language.

A free preview of Easy EVM is available at: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/shop-easy-evm.php

For more papers on the history of canal building in the UK see: The First Canal Projects

For more papers on the history of governance see: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-ZSY-015.php#Process1

New Articles posted to the Web #90

BeaverWe have been busy beavers updating the PM Knowledge Index on our website with Papers and Articles.   Some of the more interesting uploaded during the last couple of weeks include:

You are welcome to download and use this information under our free Creative Commons licence.

Visit our PMKI Library for free access to many more papers and articles: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI.php

Scot-free & Lots

Anyone owning a unit in a strata title development in Australia and many other parts of the world will be familiar with the concept of ‘Lot Entitlements’ which set the share of corporate/common fees paid by each unit owner and their voting rights in the owners’ corporation.

Similarly, most English-speaking people will be aware of the expression she got off ‘scot-free’ meaning the person was released without receiving the deserved or expected punishment. Other similar meanings of scot-free are: without being harmed (possibly derived from a passage in Shakespeare’s Macbeth), or without paying their dues.  But where do these strange terms originate?

The term scot-free has nothing to do with Scotland. The word ‘skot’ is Old Norse for a payment or tax. It came into Middle English as ‘bescot’, referring specifically to a customary tax paid to a lord, bailiff, or sheriff, and into modern English as ‘scot’. Therefore, scot-free literally means exempt from tax; it has since been broadened to indicate ‘exempt from punishment’. In a Viking settlement, some people through privilege or service were ‘skot-free’ and did not pay taxes.

The flip side of some people being ‘scot-free’ was the need for the rest to pay their share of the taxes! To manage the different amounts people had to pay, the overall tax for the community was divided into ‘lots’ and then each taxpayer had to pay their lot.  Fast forward 1500 years and our share of the annual corporate fees for the building we live in is based on out ‘lot entitlements’ and there is no way we can get off scot-free……

For more on project management ad allied history see: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-ZSY.php

PGCS Standard Registrations Close 30th July

Virtual & In-Person Attendance

This is your last chance to register for PGCS 2021 at the standard rate. We have a full and exciting program and the Symposium is guaranteed to run. Subject to the ACT remaining virus free, the event will be hybrid, with both in-person and virtual attendees. If the situation changes, we are set to transition to a fully virtual event. Face-to-face delegates will be offered the option of either transitioning to a virtual registration and receiving a partial refund, or receiving a full refund. However, at the moment we are busy putting the final planning in place for a successful hybrid event. Don’t miss out! https://www.pgcsymposium.org.au/