Schedule and Budget Updates
Scheduling and project planning is an activity that continues throughout the lifetime of a project. As changes or discrepancies between the plan and the realization occur, the project schedule and cost estimates should be modified and new schedules devised. Too often, the schedule is devised once by a planner in the central office, and then revisions or modifications are done incompletely or only sporadically. The result is the lack of effective project monitoring and the possibility of eventual chaos on the project site.
On "fast track" projects, initial construction activities are begun even before the facility design is finalized. In this case, special attention must be placed on the coordinated scheduling of design and construction activities. Even in projects for which the design is finalized before construction begins, change orders representing changes in the "final" design are often issued to incorporate changes desired by the owner.
Periodic updating of future activity durations and budgets is especially important to avoid excessive optimism in projects experiencing problems. If one type of activity experiences delays on a project, then related activities are also likely to be delayed unless managerial changes are made. Construction projects normally involve numerous activities which are closely related due to the use of similar materials, equipment, workers, or site characteristics. Expected cost changes should also be propagated throughout a project plan. In essence, duration and cost estimates for future activities should be revised in light of the actual experience on the job. Without this updating, project schedules slip more and more as time progresses. To perform this type of updating, project managers need access to original estimates and estimating assumptions.
Unfortunately, most project cost control and scheduling systems do not provide many aids for such updating. What is required is a means of identifying discrepancies, diagnosing the cause, forecasting the effect, and propagating this effect to all related activities. While these steps can be undertaken manually, computers aids to support interactive updating or even automatic updating would be helpful.
Beyond the direct updating of activity durations and cost estimates, project managers should have mechanisms available for evaluating any type of schedule change. Updating activity duration estimations, changing scheduled start times, modifying the estimates of resources required for each activity, and even changing the project network logic (by inserting new activities or other changes) should all be easily accomplished. In effect, scheduling aids should be directly available to project managers. Fortunately, local computers are commonly available on site for this purpose.