Scheduling

The PAI Professional Scheduling Service

Schedule Audit and Remediation
PAI will review your schedule for integrity, help a troubled project restore schedule integrity, and implement the schedule tracking and control process.

Project Head Start
Give your project managers a head start with the PAI Initial Planning Service.  We help your team build their initial schedule that meets the criteria for schedule integrity and begins the schedule tracking and control process.

Project Execution Scheduling Service
We support large projects or multi project portfolios and projects may be of any size and in any organization type with or without a project office.  What distinguishes us from other scheduling services is our dynamic highlighting of what is happening on the project and our process that relentlessly drives projects to completion.  The project executive or sponsor and team see what is happening together and collaborate to control their project.  More on the schedule control process and its components here.

Most multi project environments expect their project managers to do their own scheduling like this…
(PA=project administration includes scheduling.)
The PAI Scheduling Service transfers the MS Project burden of project managers to a multi project scheduling service like this…

This system provides significant operational and cost benefits plus our MS Project custom fields highlight what the team needs to control their project enabling collaboration between project teams and their executive sponsors.  This presentation in our site library, slides 36 to 92 illustrate the project control process.  First we see what a project team sees using the most commonly used MS Project view and table, followed by the PAI views and tables for planning, replanning, status update, recovery from slippage, status reporting, and to do’s for next status update.  The slides describe the 35 custom fields that are added to the tables to produce the visibility effects plus a custom menu ribbon that streamlines their use.  Most project managers are not familiar with these capabilities in MS Project.  Please call if you would like a walk through.  

In addition to the custom views, tables, filters, fields, and ribbon the PAI scheduling service also includes the following components:

The Secretarial Component
The PAI Professional Scheduling Service is analogous to secretarial support for executives but for project managers.  Your project managers and teams define schedule content and are responsible for project outcome.  PAI provides the MS Project data entry, spelling, grammar, formatting, file and archive management, and reporting for the project manager and team.  We ensure the schedules adhere to the rules of schedule integrity, and provide guidance to inexperienced project managers and executives when needed.  The service handles new projects, adapts to existing multi project or PMO (project office) environments, and is well suited to geographically distributed teams via remote screen sharing.

The Project Executive Component
The PAI scheduling service provides the management discipline for planning and execution.  Our MS Project custom visibility features enable collaboration of owners and teams to see and address deviations together as they arise eliminating surprises and disputes.

Expectations Component
Surveys the last 30 years report that most projects fail to attain their initial time and budget objectives.  The implication that project management is flawed and in need of repair is unfair.  Those of us that track the activities of project teams observe the reasons for these statistics.  All projects are unique endeavors subject to unforeseen conditions.  I’ve hosted hundreds of status meetings and it is common that some tasks experience an unavoidable slip that’s no one’s fault.  PAILite custom fields light up these deviations and the impact and I always ask if the team wants to shorten an impacted future critical path task to get back on schedule.  Most often the team cannot and accepts the slip.  After initial planning I tell my clients to take their time and budget estimates and double them, but I do not allow the team to use that float in their scheduling estimates.  Unavoidable slippage will do that.  The PAI process enables the executive and their team to achieve the best real world attainable outcome.

The Participant Component
The project schedule is a contract among the participants.  Planning (the contract) is complete when all agree to their part in the schedule.  The status update cycle controls execution by identifying the weekly to do’s and updating them at the next status meeting.  Status meetings are attended by the project executive or their representative, the to do’s owners or their representatives, and the project manager. 

The Status Update Component
The to do’s owners do not report task % complete.  Instead they report their to do’s are either on schedule or a revised finish date as illustrated in slide 82 of the above referenced presentation on our site library.  The scheduler uses the MSP Mark on Track command to calculate the task % complete for the current status date.  On the slide if the finish date hadn’t changed at the 5 day status date the task would be 50% complete, but stretching the task from 10 to 12 days by the task owner reduces the 5 day status to 41.7% complete.  The MSP Duration Variance column highlights the late tasks.  In the case of a revised finish date the schedule lights up the resulting duration and finish date variances enabling attendees to decide what to do.  If a slip moves a key milestone all can see the tasks that drive it.  The project executive and team can then consider recovery options or agree to accept some or all of the slip.  The sooner a slip is identified the more options there are for recovery, thus the recommendation for weekly status meetings.

The Reporting Component
After each status update the PAI scheduling service provides Gantt views highlighting what changed, the critical path driving the project end date, and to do’s for the following week status meeting.  We also provide a verbal report of project metrics; how many duration and finish date changes, change in key milestone dates, change in project completion date and tasks and overall % complete.  The project manager provides a verbal report interpreting the changes and overall project assessment.  We also provide a copy of the MS Project  schedule for project managers who would like to do further analysis or make changes to the schedule.  MS Project changes must be  sent back to us and will appear as changes on the status report at the beginning of the next status meeting for the project manager to explain.

The Replanning Component
If the executive or project team needs to make changes they can either do it at a status meeting or schedule a replanning meeting between status updates using the same visibility features and the output of that meeting is distributed to the team including a revised to do’s view for the next status meeting.

The Time and Cost Component
The time and cost of the PAI service is offset by the additional time project managers now have for project management, avoided time and cost to ensure they follow planning and reporting standards, and the increased quality of the scheduling process.  Status meetings for even large complex environments are very short when all to do’s are on schedule.  For example 1000 tasks to be accomplished in 1 year will average 20 new to do’s per week and take no more than 20 minutes to update.  Slippage and issue discussions will add time.  The status tracking cycle keeps all participants engaged and drives the project to its earliest possible completion.

The Database Component
The PAI scheduling service maintains an archive containing each week’s schedule and reports.  They may be used for historical purposes or forensic analysis.

Project executive participation ensures the effectiveness of this process.  Without it you risk surprises and disputes.