The Value Of A High Quality Schedule

By Cezary Goch

Over the last ten years, I have participated in the planning and execution of 42 turnarounds (TAs) and capital projects in refining and chemical plants. During this time, I have seen many different philosophies in project planning and scheduling. While most clients acknowledge the value a well-defined schedule brings to a project, their drive to invest the time and resources to improve their own schedules varies significantly. This variance occurs not only between companies and locations, but also between project teams working turnarounds versus capital projects. Some adopt the “schedule is our bible” rigor while others are more freewheeling, suggesting their schedule “is only a general guide and nothing more”.

I will argue, those who follow a quality schedule have a greater chance to finish on-time with an uneventful (and rather boring) turnaround, versus an adrenaline pumping, heart-racing reactive ‘schedule as my guide’ approach.

In This Article, I Will Outline What I Believe Are A Few Conditions That Must Be Fulfilled To Create A Quality Schedule.

But first, a question:  whose schedule is it?

The schedule will be affected by who is building it and the responsibility they have been given. Three questions will help define this:

  1. Is it the company’s own scheduler or a General Contract (GC) scheduler?
  2. Is the position of the scheduler and planner split, or are those the same people conducting both jobs?
  3. Is the philosophy of building the schedule set and provided to schedulers, or are they allowed to build it in accordance to their individual preferences?

The TA management team should try to avoid relying on schedules which are built by the GC’s schedulers/planners. While most of the contractors are honest and hardworking, building a schedule that best suits the contractor’s philosophy of execution is unavoidable. It pays off in the long run to have in-house schedulers as employees, or contracting them directly for your own use.

Turnarounds And Capital Projects Within The TA Window

Primavera scheduling software is very versatile but also a complicated tool; with it, the same schedule can be built up in many ways. For example, one can incorporate a lot of hard logic links and/or many hard constraints that will produce a rigid, difficult to adjust schedule. Alternatively, one can choose to lock down critical path and make everything else floating without priorities. which will make schedule very flexible but will be difficult for contractors to follow. Organizational consistency is important; therefore, organizations are encouraged to set parameters for the schedule so it is built the same way no matter who does it. This is commonly known as a scheduling guideline or scheduling specification.

Specifications typically include topics such as:

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Tags: Planning , Projectmanagement
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