Buying Software for Calculating Schedule Performance Index
March 04, 2021
Schedule performance index (SPI) is one of the key metrics project managers and contractors rely on when they want to gauge how far ahead, behind or on time they are on a project. It’s a fairly simple calculation that requires nothing more than your project’s planned value (PV) and earned value (EV) from the estimate determined at the project’s start.
SPI can be calculated manually using a traditional spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel®. Ironically, however, manual methods of calculating the SPI efficiency metric aren’t very efficient themselves. The biggest challenges with them are the risk of data entry errors and broken formulas in the spreadsheets, all of which can lead to skewed SPI results and impact project decision-making. And of course, the data that goes into an SPI’s formula won’t be worth much if it isn’t as accurate and up to date as possible. Without the latest data, you compromise the value and relevance the SPI metric can provide for you.
What is the alternative? Advanced construction project software. It does the math for you, saving time, reducing the risk of calculation errors, ultimately creating the difference between success and failure when you’re tracking overlapping phases of sizable capital project builds.
If needing to calculate SPI is something you’re considering as a construction software requirement, there are options on the market that offer the ability to calculate a schedule performance index with ease. There’s actually no single point solution dedicated just to SPI. Rather, the features to look for will be found within project management or estimating software that offers SPI calculations as part of its functionality, which should include:
- Mobile access. Calculating an SPI depends on the accuracy and timeliness of the data that feeds into it. Where does this information come from? The job site. This is why giving site crews mobile access to your software via a tablet or smartphone is essential, enabling them to upload schedule progress data, which is then updated in the back office in real time. This functionality also lets you check on your SPI and other analytics from a web-connected device in order to identify any schedule fluctuations that may put the project at risk of missing milestones. Armed with the latest data, you can determine how to make prompt adjustments and relay the information back to the job site.
- Analytics. Once data is entered, estimating software can automatically calculate SPI as well as related metrics such as cost performance index (CPI), schedule variance (SV) and cost variance (CV). Individually, they capture data for your project just like SPI, but they’re measured using different formulas. Together, they provide a more comprehensive snapshot of how your project is doing, especially when presented in user-friendly dashboards that allow your team to visualize issues at a glance.
Why is having other metrics available so important? If they align with what your schedule performance index shows, it can confirm the schedule trend your project is on. But if there is any discrepancy among them versus the SPI, you actually may be seeing important red flags indicating something is amiss that needs to be addressed. That’s the beauty of the right data solution; it can show you so much more than what at first meets the eye.
- Reporting. As a key communication and collaboration tool, reports create context around the endless amount of data being generated on the construction site, providing critical insights into the progress made against the project schedule. Regular updates make a big difference because they can turn data analysis and decision-making into a proactive effort, allowing you to see negative trends that you can address before they become a costly rework situation. Reports may even be generated automatically when the SPI dips below an established threshold or exhibits a sudden deviation, flagging project team members who can then analyze what’s behind the numbers and collaborate on course-corrective action.
Whichever project management or estimating software system you choose should make sense for your company and the size and complexity of the projects you take on. Being able to calculate and track your schedule performance index and other metrics does more than help you stay on top of scheduling trends and issues so you can make timely decisions; it raises your client’s confidence that their project is in good hands. This kind of market edge is what you can expect from InEight Report. Learn how we can help you proactively manage your project’s progress by turning numeric entries and calculations into actionable data.