Technical Program Abstracts

(PS) Planning and Scheduling

(PS-2390) Critical Path Shifts: Everything You Need to Know

Level: Advanced

Author(s): Mark F. Nagata, PSP; William Haydt

Monday, Jun 12 10:00-11:00/Celebration 5

Abstract: Due to the dynamic nature of construction projects, the critical path can and often does shift from one work path to another work path in response to progress and project events.  Identifying precisely when a critical path shift occurs is essential to assigning delay to both the responsible critical activity as well as the responsible party, and ultimately to determine whether delays are excusable and compensable.  Correctly identifying when a critical path shift occurs can determine whether an owner assesses liquidated damages or grants a time extension and, if applicable, pays a contractor for its delay damages.  Critical path shifts vary from the obvious to the hidden, even the arcane.  For example, it is possible for non-critical work to be delayed only a day and result in a critical path shift and project delay of a day or more, which is a characteristic of a critical activity.  This seems counter to common wisdom.  This paper will explain how this happens, define what a critical path shift is, identify its two basic causes, and provide examples to demonstrate precisely why and when a critical path shift occurs.


(PS-2407) Alternate Methodology for Managing Large Complex Project Schedules

Level: Basic

Author(s): Abbas Saifi; Greg M. Hall, PSP

Sunday, June 11 12:00-1:00/Celebration 5

Abstract: Projects are becoming increasingly complex and the industry is demanding schedules that can keep pace with that trend. This has made a project scheduler’s job more complicated than ever.

The project team and project scheduler must capture key activities in the project schedule, and must properly justify why they are important. The project team, in their effort to capture such key activities, may resort to micro managing a project, rendering the project schedule extremely tedious and time-consuming to maintain and update. Alternatively, the project team, in an attempt to minimize the number of activities and thus day-to-day-workload, may omit crucial activities.

This paper discusses the disadvantages of micro managing a project; highlights the vital deliverables that must be looked at; and introduces the concept of master project and sub project as a means of managing such complex schedules. The implementation of this method, with significant care, will allow the scheduler to both generate key reports with ease and satisfy the objective to assist the project team in performing risk assessments.


(PS-2412) Protect Your Project Schedule Using the Unified Scheduling Method

Level: Intermediate

Author(s): William W. Davis

Sunday, June 11 1:15-2:15/Celebration 5

Abstract: Many projects suffer schedule overruns.  Building a schedule that leads to on-time delivery requires balancing the need for schedule safety with the need to complete the project as quickly as possible.  Using the Unified Scheduling Method (USM), project planners can forecast how many critical path activities will suffer schedule delays, then create a schedule contingency to buffer the schedule so the project still finishes on-time.  USM relies on the binomial distribution functions inside Microsoft Excel® to determine how many activities are at risk of schedule failure.  Once that is determined project planners can choose from among a conservative, moderate, or aggressive schedule contingency.  This approach gives project sponsors and planners a way to balance their need for schedule safety with the competing need to finish projects quickly.


(PS-2413) Extracting the Resource-Constrained Critical/Longest Path from a Leveled Schedule

Level: Advanced

Author(s): Thomas M. Boyle, PE PSP

Monday, Jun 12 11:15-12:15/Celebration 5

Abstract: Heuristic (i.e. rule-based) resource leveling is the only method explicitly provided for avoiding resource conflicts in the dominant North American scheduling tools, but it seems largely rejected in the construction industry because conventional Critical Path definitions and corresponding Float calculations in leveled schedules are wrong or misleading.

The author describes an automated method for accurately depicting the Resource-Constrained Driving Path to project completion – i.e. the Critical Path – in a leveled schedule.  The method infers resource-driven, Finish-to-Start links between time-adjacent activities based on detailed examination of the corresponding resource assignments and leveling data.  These latent links can then be incorporated into a robust routine for tracing and reporting driving logic.  The method is demonstrated in Microsoft Project; implications for a similar approach in Primavera P6 are outlined.  Limitations of the method are explored and described using standard resource-loaded schedule models.

The sequence of activities in a leveled schedule are notably unstable.  This method allows practical and repeated use of automatic resource leveling while maintaining a clear definition of the true Critical Path through the project.


(PS-2425) Jobsite Photography Should Be a Scheduler’s Job

Level: Basic

Author(s): Ronald M. Winter, PSP FAACE

Wednesday, Jun 14 8:00-9:00/Celebration 5

Abstract: Schedulers should be doing more than just noting jobsite status; they should be documenting it.  Jobsite photography should be a part of the daily, weekly, or monthly status inventory that schedulers perform.  Arrive too early and the photographer might miss documenting part of the work.  Photograph the work too late and it may be obstructed by new work.  Site conditions at the moment of project delay must be timely noted.  Timing is everything and that is a specialty where schedulers should excel!

This paper discusses the unique talents that the scheduler can apply to documenting work status.  If a job is to be done, then it should be done correctly.  It is not enough to just snap a picture; the subject of that picture should be focused on the pertinent project issues and should be clearly visible, well annotated, and easy to retrieve when needed.  Clear, easy to reference documentation does not just happen; it requires knowledge and planning which are both traits of a good scheduler.


(PS-2427) P6 File Corruption, Part 2

Level: Advanced

Author(s): Ronald M. Winter, PSP FAACE; Marina G. Sominsky, PSP

Wednesday, Jun 14 9:15-10:15/Celebration 5

Abstract: An earlier paper by the authors introduces the topic of P6 File Corruption and endeavors to separate reality from perception. This paper further explains exactly how to repair cases of known corruption using the tools provided by the database server, as well as by Oracle® Primavera P6?. The deficiencies of the original Primavera P6? Check Project Integrity routines are explained in an effort to make this utility more useful to IT experts or even P6 users, should this functionality be restored in the Oracle® Primavera P6 Professional? or the Oracle® Primavera EPPM?.

The main emphasis of this paper is a dedicated research of the prevalence of P6 file corruption in the scheduling community and the types of problems experienced. To this end, the authors have developed a software research tool and invited various P6 users to participate in the discovery of this issue. Two PSP certified schedulers, who are also IT experts, present this unique paper on the subject of P6 File Corruption.


(PS-2428) Improving the Update Process: Solutions for a Contentious Industry

Level: Advanced

Author(s): Greg M. Hall, PSP

Tuesday, Jun 13 9:30-10:30/Celebration 5

Abstract: Change is inseparable from construction, yet the owner/contractor cooperation necessary to properly deal with it varies widely from project to project.  Specifications require detailed, regular schedule updates and numerous reports, but much of what the contractor generates to meet those specifications is either rejected by the owner, of questionable value, and/or ignored by both parties.

To make matters worse, each party often responds to change in a manner that seeks to protect their interests.  Contractors protect profit margin by refusing new risk or seeking high compensation for it. Owners try to control program cost while keeping delivery commitments to the stakeholders.  While cost certainty benefits both parties, potential change orders and resolution of potentially costly delay impacts can often languish up to—or beyond—project completion.

This paper addresses open, unresolved changes and delays by examining past projects’ typical practices of schedule updating, Time Impact Analysis, handling Resource-Driven Logic (RDL), and communication of the data generated by these processes.  By differentiating between progress and schedule adjustments, distinguishing RDL versus physical logic changes, and emphasizing “LP23” reviews which include Progress-Only update status, we hope to encourage the owner and the contractor to review and discuss the schedule update reports and find solutions which are in the project’s best interest, meet their divergent goals, and avoid disputes.


(PS-2491) Implementation of the Half-Step Analysis During the Project: Phase II

Level: Intermediate

Author(s): Brian J. Furniss, PE CFCC PSP; Cory Milburn, CFCC PSP; John Orr, PSP

Monday, Jun 12 2:00-3:00/Celebration 5

Abstract: The Half-Step, or bifurcation, method of schedule updating and analysis is used to segregate the effect on the schedule caused by activity progress and schedule revisions (changed durations, added activities, activity relationships, or other non-progress factors).  The comingling of progress updates and schedule revisions often results in an inconclusive assessment of schedule status when compared to prior schedule updates.  Additionally, schedule revisions may conceal other issues with progress or production delays.  While this process is often used after the project to identify delays, we propose expanding its use during the project as a way to objectively assess performance, discuss the plan moving forward, and resolve potential disputes.

Phase I of this topic was drafted by John Ciccarelli, Michael Bennick, and Brian Furniss, and was presented at AACE’s 2016 Conference in Toronto (CDR-2305). This paper builds upon the principles from Phase I and provides technical examples of the half-step application, including real-life case studies and interpretation of what the data may, or may not, tell the user.


(PS-2593) (Panel Discussion) The Great Debate - CPM Scheduling - Owners vs. Contractors

Level: Intermediate

Author(s): Jeffrey Milo, PSP; John P. Orr, PSP; Hannah E. Schumacher, PSP; Julie K. Owen, CCP PSP

Tuesday, Jun 13 1:45-2:45/Celebration 5

Abstract: CPM scheduling has become a standard requirement in construction contracts between Owners and Contractors.  These parties are all too frequently at odds in the effort to prepare a single schedule that meets both their needs.  Sometimes the rules (in the form of contract specifications and recommended practices) can make this process more confusing instead of less.  Interpretation of the specification requirements, misunderstanding of the baseline schedule review/approval process, sequestration of float, unbalanced cost and resource loading, incorporating impacts and changes during the updating process  all of these can be the subject of contention and debate between owners and contractors.  This session will present a panel of Owner representatives and Contractor scheduling managers to discuss and compare their interests, goals, actions and options during the schedule preparation, review, and updating process.  Although presented in a debate format, the goal of this session is not to determine a winner, but to reach agreement on shared goals and viable solutions that benefit both parties and to make the CPM schedule a tool, not a contest between Owner and Contractor.


(PS-2649) Portfolio Management in P6

Level: Basic

Author(s): Molly I. Donaldson, CCP

Sunday, June 11 2:45-3:45/Celebration 5

Abstract: Oracle® Primavera P6 has built-in functionality that allows the user to group projects into portfolios and to then perform analysis on those projects as a group. Portfolio analysis is used to group sub-projects into the overall project and to group individual projects into a group for management within the organization. This paper details the process of creating and using portfolios, displaying portfolio data, and examines the behind the scenes calculations performed by the software to provide portfolio level data such as performance status and Earned Value metrics. In addition, the differences between Primavera P6 Professional and Primavera P6 EPPM are considered for portfolio management.


(PS-2658) Categorizing Schedule Activity Relationships for Logic Analysis

Level: Advanced

Author(s): Paul T. Reeser

Tuesday, Jun 13 4:30-5:30/Celebration 5

Abstract: This practical applications paper demonstrates how to categorize relationships into Six major groups (Fragnet, Crew, Phase, Milestone, Change Order, Anomalies) so that logic relationship analysis can be executed quickly and simply.  Software products to be used include standard scheduling software such as Oracle Primavera P6® or Microsoft Project®, as well as spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel® or OpenOffice Calc®.  Once grouped into their respective categories, two main benefits are found; viewing relationships for consistency and discovering issues more easily than in the native scheduling software.  This paper uses actual projects as references, and will demonstrate to the user how to setup data tables and formula columns to categorize the relationships and identify typical issues.


(PS-2670) Draft Recommended Practice 92R-17: Analyzing Near-Critical Paths

Level: Advanced

Author(s): Dr. Amin Terouhid, DRMP PSP; Dr. Maryam Mirhadi, PSP; Thomas M. Boyle, PE PSP

Monday, Jun 12 4:45-5:45/Celebration 5

Abstract: This recommended practice (RP) is intended to provide a guideline on analyzing near-critical paths in project schedules. Delays or unexpected circumstances may adversely affect near-critical path activities to the extent that they become critical. A near-critical path consists of one or more near-critical activities that are susceptible to the risk of becoming critical and/or causing critical path delays.

This RP will discuss the term near-critical path and the significance of near-critical paths in projects; demonstrate how to determine near-critical paths; and set forth a process for tracking, trending and analyzing near-critical paths. This RP is intended to serve as a guideline and resource, not to establish a standard.

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