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  • Brian Vickers

7 Processes in a Smoothly Running Schedule Management System

Renewable energy businesses can improve their on-time delivery of projects by implementing these seven processes for schedule management systems.

1. Plan schedule management

Depending on the nature of your business, you may need more than one approach to schedule management. For instance, for solar businesses, this may mean a different approach for residential, commercial, or utility scale projects. Alternatively, different customers may require different scheduling approaches. Consequently, a standard process for planning schedule management would start by defining the guidelines for selecting the appropriate approach.

Next it would outline how this approach would be implemented on a selected project. This would include identifying who would be responsible for schedule management, what processes would be applicable, what tools would be used, and what data would be managed. Finally, it would identify the activities that would be performed to control the schedule during the project.

2. Define activities

In the renewable energy construction industry, standard activities are repeatedly performed on successive projects. Consequently, standard work breakdown structures (WBS) can be developed for different business lines. When activities are defined for a new project, these standard WBS can be customized to address the project specific requirements.

3. Sequence activities

Similarly, standard activity sequences can be defined for different business lines. These activity sequences will identify the progression of work as well as the relationships (predecessors and successors) between activities. When activity sequences are defined for a new project, these standard activity sequences can be customized to address the project specific requirements. For instance, for a wind project there will likely be project specific transportation and delivery requirements for wind turbine components.

4. Estimate activity durations

Activity durations will depend on multiple factors, including crew size, available equipment and materials, productivity rates, and site conditions. Although standard durations could be developed as a starting point, based on prior experience, these standard durations would need to be modified to align with the approved project cost estimate. Furthermore, it is important to review these standard durations with the project team leadership to make adjustments based on project specific factors.

5. Develop schedule

Using a schedule tool such as Microsoft Project or Oracle Primavera P6, a schedule template could be built with a standard WBS, activity sequence, and activity durations. The schedule development process would focus on modifying the standard schedule template to incorporate project specific requirements. The level of detail incorporated in the schedule will depend on how the schedule is used to manage a project (see prior article on “7 Ways to use a Schedule to Manage a Project”).

6. Control schedule

The process for controlling a schedule will include procedures for creating and updating the project baseline, updating the activity status, and modifying schedule assumptions to mitigate schedule delays. If a decision is made to create and maintain a project baseline, then procedures will need to define the types of baselines maintained on a project (e.g., contract baseline, working baseline, etc.), the approval process for modifying the baseline, the methodology for updating the baseline, and how changes will be documented.

If the schedule is used to track progress on the project, then activity status will need to be updated. The frequency and methodology for updates would be defined in the procedures.

If activities fall behind schedule, then schedule compression strategies like crashing (adding resources) or fast tracking (performing activities in parallel) may be introduced. Procedures would be defined for flagging activity delays, developing mitigation strategies, and modifying schedules to incorporate mitigation strategies.

7. Continuous improvement

Once a process has been standardized, it can be improved upon. Throughout the life cycle of a project, opportunities for improvement could be identified and documented. These opportunities can be discussed in lessons learned meetings following completion of project phases. Once consensus is reached on improvements, schedule management procedures could be updated for use on future projects.

Prepare and implement these seven processes for schedule management systems to improve on-time delivery of projects.

Contact Renewable Projects for help with your schedule management system

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