Tag Archives: Planning

The Planning Paradox – How much detail is too much?

Traditional views tend to favor a management approach built on the assumption that more detail is better – and to a point, this is undoubtedly correct. Insufficient detail in a plan of any type is a sure way to fail; ‘just do it’ at the overall project level does not help. But, finessing project plans to present useful information at the right level of detail is not easy – decisions have to be made!

Balancing the factors shown in this diagram helps make the right decision. As the risk environment increases, the project controls need to be more rigorous. The risk environment is influenced by the size or significance of the identified risks, and the overall degree of uncertainty associated with the work. As either (or both) of these factors increase, the controls systems need to be more rigorous.

The two factors that influence the degree of rigour in the controls system are the amount of detail included (granularity) and the frequency of the monitoring, reviewing and updating of the plans. But, as suggested above, too much detail will increase costs and reduce efficiency and effectiveness.

There’s no right answer to this paradox, our latest article The Planning Paradox – How much detail is too much? offers some useful guidelines to consider (download the article).

For more on Schedule Strategy, Planning, & Design, see: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-SCH-011.php  

Philosophies & Principles Used to Shape Planning Approaches

Any output from a planning process is a consequence of the approach applied by the planner to develop their plan.  Different people will develop different plans to achieve the same objectives based on their knowledge, experience and attitudes. This influence can be ignored or, if better understood, exploited!

This article outlines the fundamental principles and philosophies that can be used by planners to develop their plan: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/Mag_Articles/AA001_philosophies_of_planning.pdf

For more papers on schedule strategy and design see: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-SCH-010.php#Process3

New Planning and controls website


Our new project Planning and Controls website at www.planning-controls.com.au/ is now up and running.  This site currently has two focuses:

Helping people study to pass their PMI-SP® examination:  www.planning-controls.com.au/pmisp-courses/  Backed by a library of helpful PMI-SP exam support resources:  www.planning-controls.com.au/support/

Providing a single location for planners and schedulers to access our library of project controls papers and other free resourceswww.planning-controls.com.au/controls/   Almost all of the papers are available for download and use under the Creative Commons licence.

This site will be progressively updated with a view to becoming a key reference for all planning and control professionals worldwide!  Any suggestions for improvements will be appreciated – we look forward to hearing from you.



Schedule Calculations – Old and New

CPMThe way CPM schedules were calculated in the 1970s and 80s (prior to the availability of low-cost PC scheduling tools) used a simplification designed to minimise error and speed up a tedious task.  Whilst some of us are old enough to have used this ‘manual’ technique on real schedules, everyone in the modern world recognises Day # 1 = Wednesday 1st October and a 3 day duration activity will work on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to finish on the 3rd October and the fact 1 + 3 = 4 is simply an anomaly in the way integers and ‘elapsed time’ interact that has to be dealt with inside the computers computations to produce accurate date based bar charts and tabulations.

Unfortunately there has been a rash of postings on linked-in over the last week totally confusing everyone with their nonsense about CPM calculations.  This blog is designed to correct the message!

To overcome the problem of a 3 day activity starting on the 1st October finishing on the 3rd October, but  staring on day 1 and adding a duration of 3 gives you 1 + 3 = 4, the simplified manual calculations assumed the starting point was ‘day Zero’ 0 + 3 = 3!

However, the old manual calculations starting from day Zero have never been correct – the start day number for every activity in a schedule is always the day before it actually starts.  The end dates (day numbers / dates) are correct and the advantage of this option is it only requires one simple calculation per task for both the forward and back passes and the Free Float calculations are a simple subtraction.

EF = ES + Duration
LS = LF – Duration ….  Easy!!

This simplistic methodology was absolutely essential for manually calculating large PDM schedules. The ‘normal’ scheduling practice through to the mid 1980s when affordable PCs arrived – very few companies could afford the expense of mainframe scheduling tools and those that did wanted to make sure the data was correct before the computer run.

The accurate calculation used in all scheduling software, recognises that a 3 day activity starts at the beginning of day 1 and works on days 1, 2 and 3 to finish at the end of day 3 and its successor (assuming a FS0 link) starts at the beginning of day 4.  Unfortunately these ‘real’ calculations require much more complex calculations[1].

ES = 1, EF = (1 + 3) – 1 to get to the end of day 3.
The Zero duration link requires (EF 3 + 0) + 1 = the next activity ES is the start of day 4.

This approach more than doubles the amount of calculation effort and increases the opportunity for error and of course affects Free Float calculations as well.

Fortunately computer software is not prone to making calculation errors and runs these more complex sums 100% accurately to calculate the date activities start and end accurately when transposed onto a calendar. For more on the actual calculations see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF/Schedule_Calculations.pdf

Given no one has used manual calculations to determine a major schedule in the last 20 years (at least) the old simplistic manual approach is redundant and should be consigned to my area of interest, the history of project scheduling (see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PM-History.html).

[1] For a more complete discussion see the excellent paper by Ron Winters written in 2003 and entitled ‘How to Befuddle a College Professor’, which can be found at:  http://www.ronwinterconsulting.com/Befuddle.pdf

Project Time Management Workshops for Planners & Schedulers

We are pleased to be part of the team launching the Project Time Management Certificate (PTMC) in Australasia. Mosaic’s Project Time Management Workshops are designed to:
– Offer a practical one-day scheduling and planning course.
– Underpin studies for the CIOB PTMC examination.
– Start a Blended training course for the PMI-SP credential.

In cooperation with the Chartered Institute of Building, Mosaic will be running a series of practical 1 Day Project Time Management Workshops that will be followed by a PTMC examination conducted by CIOB in the same city a few weeks later. Our first workshop will be held in Canberra as part of the Project Governance and Controls Symposium on the 9th & 10th April:
Project Time Management Workshop – 9th April
Free Controls Professional networking evening – 9th April (follows workshop)
Project Governance and Controls Symposium – 10th April
PTMC Examination – 4th May

These events are designed to re-frame project controls in Australia and provide an on-going forum for cross-industry, cross-association, cross-discipline discussions to advance the status and understanding of project controls. 2013 is the foundation year for what is planned to be a regular annual event.

The PTM Workshop is a valuable 1 Day course as well as providing a foundation leading to professional credentials.

The PTM Workshop is a valuable 1 Day course as well as providing a foundation leading to professional credentials.

Unlike the PMI-SP credential which requires formal training and a minimum of 3 years of experience for a candidate to be eligible for the examination, the PTMC is designed as a rigorous knowledge test that is open to anyone. Potential candidates can choose to self-study or take a course or any combination that works for them:


The PTMC is designed to provide experienced schedulers with proof they understand their discipline and offer graduates and others wishing to become a scheduler an opportunity to learn the art and skills associated with being a professional planner and scheduler – there is far more to the profession than simply using software!

More information:
– The PTMC Credential.
PTM workshops (full schedule of dates).
– Book into the Canberra PTM workshop.
– Book into the free networking evening  (scroll down page – cash bar)
– Join us at the Project Governance and Controls Symposium.

The Symposium and networking events are underwritten by the not-for-profit PM Global Foundation and apart from physical costs, all of the income from the PTM workshop will be used to help develop this important initiative. We look forward to your support.

Launch of the Project Time Management Qualification (PTMQ) Framework in Australia

The free CIOB event scheduled for the 15th November in Melbourne will be the de facto launch of the CIOB PTMQ Framework in Australia covering the various routes to the Project Time Management Certificate (PTMC) examination. Depending on interest, training courses and examinations can be organised wherever there are sufficient numbers.

The PTMC has no prerequisites – whist the examination is rigorous, formal training courses are optional, experienced schedulers in particular may choose the self-study option.

The PTMQ framework is part of an overall strategy developed by the CIOB to improve project outcomes and address widely held misconceptions about the role of effective time management within project management.

As a starting point, effective time management, the courses and the credentials have nothing to do with tools. In exactly the same way a car is a means for a skilled driver to implement his/her objective, scheduling software is a means for a skilled scheduler to implement effective time management. Unfortunately most schedulers are taught how to run tools and virtually nothing about what planning and scheduling is supposed to achieve.

We all know a significant proportion of projects run late and many that finish on time have been de-scoped. The process led by the CIOB has been focused on defining the problem and building practical solutions to address these issues that cause $billions to be wasted on projects every year. The overall solution that is nearing completion includes:

  • Publication in 2011 of the CIOB Guide to the management of time in complex projects.
  • Development of a new form of contract for complex projects due for publication later this year.
  • Development of the PTMQ framework, officially launched on the 1st November
  • Running a sustained campaign to raise awareness of the importance of effective time management in achieving value from an investment in a project.

PTMC fills a major void in the publicly available project management qualifications. The certification tests a persons understanding of effective time management and is designed for people entering a project scheduling role. For the first time project managers, PMO managers and HR departments can require an impartial assessment of a job candidates understanding of the role of project scheduling in the successful delivery of projects!

Existing ‘time management’ qualifications either require years of experience prior to the candidate being eligible to sit the examination or are tools focused and simply certify the person knows how to ‘push buttons’ to make the designated software ‘go’.

PTMC complements these existing qualifications at the entry level, focusing on the objectives of good scheduling practice to support tools focused skills (you cannot do effective scheduling without the tools). Additionally, PTMC provides a stepping stone towards the more advanced certifications either within the CIOB framework or others such as the PMI-SP.

If you are based in Melbourne we look forward to seeing you on Thursday 15th November, to register and anyone else interested in this exciting development see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-CIOB-TM_Credential.html

CIOB launches Project Time Management Certificate

The Chartered Institute of Building has launched its Project Time Management Qualification (PTMQ) framework upon which the CIOB will assess and accredit Project Time Management professionals placing CIOB at the forefront of establishing the premier industry standard in planning, scheduling and project control.

The first element of the framework, the Project Time Management Certificate (PTMC) was launched at a gala function in London, by the CIOB President last week. Unlike existing certifications, this qualification is focused on assessing the candidates knowledge of practical project time management.   It is designed for new entrants to planning and scheduling as well as those who are already engaged in the management of time on projects. Holders of the PTMC will have demonstrated a rigorous understanding of the practice that underpins project planning and scheduling.

The launch of the PTMQ framework moves CIOB one step close to completing a five year strategy to provide standard education, training and accreditation in time management.

Back in 2008 CIOB research found that 67% of complex building projects were late. Of those delayed 13% were more than 3 months and 18% over 6 months. This finding prompted the CIOB to embark upon the development and publication in 2011 of the CIOB Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects which sets down the process and standards to be achieved in preparing and managing a time model.

The Guide underpins the new CIOB contract for the management of complex projects due for publication later this year, and the PTMQ framework for assessing and accrediting the Project Time Management professionals required as part of the CIOB contract.

The PTMC examination is open to CIOB members and non-members, those who have gone through Project Time Management training or those who have self-studied. It will appeal to anyone looking for a relevant and credible qualification in project time management. And in combination with the forthcoming Practitioner (PTMP) and Specialist (PTMS) credentials, it will offer a project time management qualification structure that will provide a progressive development path based on assessment of skills, knowledge and experience in planning, scheduling and project controls.

Mosaic is the exclusive CIOB partner for delivery of training in Australia and New Zealand, with rights to deliver training throughout the wider region. We are currently working on a planned series of public workshops and examinations commencing in Q1 of 2013. Courses and/or examinations can also be arranged for organised groups. For more information on this exciting development see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-CIOB-TM_Credential.html

UK and European readers contact: http://www.athenaprojectservices.com/

Congratulations to the 2012 Planning & Scheduling Award winners

The 2012 The Planning & Scheduling Awards held at The Brewery, London were a great success (who said you can’t organise a party at a brewery…?).

Supported by a symposium and gala dinner it’s great to see our profession being willing to recognise excellence within our own area of expertise. To read a synopsis of the winners and see some pictures of the event: http://www.athenaprojectservices.com/home/awards-2012

These awards were very much the initiative of David Tyerman, Managing Director of Athena Project Services, he deserves congratulations for the initiative and here’s looking forward to the 2nd annual awards in 2013. Maybe in 2013 the awards will start to become international??

Great job, great outcome, congratulations to the supporting organisations and every participant – we need more of this type of event world-wide. Whilst the UK is a long way from Australia, I’m starting to think it may be well worth the travel to attend the next event in 2013.

Planning Engineers Organisation Re-Launched

The Planning Engineers Organisation (PEO) has re-launched under the sponsorship of Athena Project Services Ltd.

The PEO is focused on recognising and promoting expertise in planning, scheduling and project controls whilst also encouraging and facilitating the development of new entrants, whether old or young! As such, the PEO offers a membership scheme that provides enhanced levels of access and facilities with the PEO in return for advancement in the knowledge base, levels and length of experience and general standing within our industries.

The PEO is looking to promote expertise in planning, scheduling and project controls, and encourage participation from all levels of ability, including those that are associated with our discipline by way of providing support services, software and employment opportunities. Consequently, membership is open to all planners, schedulers and project controllers, or those associated with project time management, from across the world at the following grades:

  • Fellows: Restricted for those individuals with greater than 15 years experience in planning/scheduling or those, who in the opinion of the Organisation, have made a major significant contribution to the field of project time management. This grade of membership carries the designation FPEO.
  • Members: This grade is for full time planners/schedulers and project controllers who have at least 5 years project time management experience, and entitles the designation MPEO to be used.
  • Associate Members: For those planners/schedulers and project controllers with less than 5 years experience in project time management, or for those whose work or business is associated with products and/or services that are related to project time management. This entitles the designation APEO to be used.
  • Student Members: For those studying planning/scheduling and project controllers who would benefit from access to the Organisation’s information and website.

For more information and to join see: http://planningengineers.org

Planning Planet Guild Update

After two years of development, the basic framework of the Planning Planet ‘International Guild of Project Controls’ (GPC) is in place to develop a career framework and accreditation system for project controls professionals. The mission of the GPC is to develop a centre of excellence for developing the skills, expertise and capability of professionals in the field of project controls.

The Planning Planet, GPC announcement on the 11/11/11 confirms the Guild’s aims, objectives, governance processes, controls and initial management team are all in place.

The professional development teams are working to establish a framework of ‘standards of practice’ to support project controls professionals in their careers. The current status of this vital work is:

These standards have been mapped to a proposed career framework, and levels of membership, that recognises the different streams of expertise within the overall project controls framework.

With Phase 1 now officially launched, project controls professionals world-wide are invited to become part of the process to define our profession. The first four steps of the process are available now, for you to sign up and support this important development.

Additionally, the schedule leading to the launch of Phase 2 in March 2012 is set out below – if you want to influence this process, now is the time to be involved!!

The launch of Phase 2 will mark the start of formal accreditation to the GPC the intended framework for accreditation has to be finalised but is expected to include the following:

Personally I would like to congratulate James, Theo and the GPC committees on a massive effort and wish them every success as they move forward. If you want to be part of this process or simply find out more, download the GPC Launch presentation and sign up to help at: http://www.planningplanet.com/guild