Solving the Field Disconnect
November 25, 2020
At Proove we’ve been observing a field disconnect at our clients, meaning that in projects management practices are too often disconnected from the field/site that they are managing. My colleague Stijn has written a fair share about this on our website. I’ll not reformulate what he found but focus on how we see and how we can currently solve these issues. In a nutshell, these were the main challenges:
- Schedules with low realism because planning became a planning engineers’ job, not usually performed by people with in-field experience.
- The site is rarely involved in the planning process, which leads to low commitment to follow the resulting schedule.
- The schedule is too often used as a contractual vehicle, not to steer execution.
- During execution, the field feedback is often insufficient to resemble the reality in the schedule, nor will realistic forecasts be made.
Let’s take you through a typical planning-to-execution process and observe the savvy way InEight Schedule solves these challenges.
1. More efficient scheduling through usage of templates and historical data
The scheduler or project manager builds the schedule outline based on templates and historical data, i.e. the tool’s knowledge library. This knowledge library makes suggestions on WBS structure, durations, logic subnets of activities, deliverables and risk. It provides this information through a validated population of its knowledge library. The suggestions are measured for their applicability in the context that is given by the planning engineer. All this results in a good basis to start from. The scheduler doesn’t need a very thorough understanding of the technical details, or even advanced scheduling techniques to come up with a realistic schedule (Challenge 1). Past experience is stored in the background and serve as base for suggestion in the scheduling process to make sure this company knowledge is shared throughout the projects.
2. Increased team commitment by inclusion of expert opinions
The scheduler identifies experts per work package or activity. The experts, whom can also be outside of the organization, see their part of the schedule with or without the greater context. Through an ultra-user-friendly scoreboard interface, their input on the schedule’s realism is gathered. Durations are validated by the experts, logic change requests and risk identifications can be done in the tool and all input Is gathered. This phase is called the Markup cycle. (Challenge 1&2) This helps to gather both other members’ commitment and their knowledge.
3. More realistic estimates by consensus-bases estimation
After the Markup cycle is completed, all data is aggregated and the distribution of the different contributors’ duration estimates is given to the activities. During a review session, the scheduler can discuss with the team which are the most likely estimated durations. These durations are then pushed into the CPM schedule. The resulting schedule is thus not a model made by a planning engineer, but a model agreed upon by the team (Challenge 1&2).
4. Daily planning made more accessible for the field
After the review phase has passed, we can start executing the project. Whereas earlier the schedulers would tend to schedule the day-to-day job, now the schedule is kept at a somewhat higher level so that the Field Execution responsible persons can plan their own work within the agreed upon time periods. The ease-of-use of this functionality is incredible. It really feels like planning through post-it’s on a wall. The field execution planners can break the activities down into steps with quantities, executed by different crews and plan them over the available time. By doing this in a centralized, digital way, the site gets better insight in the interfaces between different parties and the effect of their work on each other. It’s also clear when project management expects work to be done. When the field execution planners plan their work outside of these dates, it’s indicated and a dialogue needs to take place to wee where adjustments needs to be made. (Challenge 2&3)
5. Registration of scope progress directly on the field
Progress is gathered at the step-level. The executed quantities are registered as well as the hours spent. The resulting burn-down graphs indicate the acceleration needed (if needed) to make the foreseen deadlines. The planning engineer can use this information to report a realistic, higher level, schedule to the client. (Challenge 4)
As Proove we are very happy to see these evolutions we’ve been waiting for so long are being developed and have a look and feel we’re very happy with. Bringing the control back to the people really adds value to all parties within the field of project management.