Let’s face it – we’re all used to managing to start dates. That’s what we were taught in school – and that’s what we’ve done on the jobsite since day one. But what has that really gotten us? A lot of fire drills and late-game heroics. Finishing work is much more difficult than starting new work.
The Vico scheduling solutions are based on a different premise: if we closely monitor our crew productivity (along with our quantities by location), we can manage not by start date, but by rate, and keep crews focused on the tasks at hand.
Location-based management system (LBMS) provides a real-time control mechanism allowing superintendents to make decisions based on actual production rates measured in the field. To perform these calculations more information is required than in traditional CPM process where actual start and finish dates and remaining durations are sufficient to recalculate the network. In addition to actual start and finish dates for every task in every location, LBMS requires:
- Dates when work was suspended
- Actual crew size by subcontractor – and preferably by task and location
The LBMS forecast calculation is sensitive to any errors in this information because it is based on actual manhours required to complete a unit of work. If suspensions have not been entered, too many manhours are included in the calculation and the forecast looks too pessimistic. If crew sizes have not been entered, LBMS assumes planned crew size – but often subcontractors start slow and man up later.
To keep the information up-to-date and to provide reliable information to management, the information needs to be consistent, correct, complete and forecasts need to be based on realistic resource assumptions. The software side of the problem is easy – it does not take a lot of time to enter all this information. Problems happen on the data collection side or as a result of forgetting to enter an important piece of information. In this article we will focus on how to make sure that everything has been entered.
Please note: It doesn't matter who you select to collect this data, or how you format the Control Chart, or if you use an iPad or a print out and chicken scratch. What does matter is that you do collect it. Not only will the data be necessary for your look-ahead schedules and calculating the deviation from the baseline schedule, but your preconstruction team will find it invaluable when bidding on new projects, and your operations team will use it to better negotiate with subcontractors for the next job.
Step 1: All Tasks view in flowline
All Tasks view always looks like a “mess” in real projects – don’t worry, this is normal because it shows all the tasks happening in the project. We will zoom in really close to the data date and review all actual and forecast lines immediately to the left of the data date. Only dotted lines (actuals) should be shown. Quick tip: If you see any forecast lines to the left of data date, information has not been updated for this task.
Caption: This check takes less than ten minutes, even in large projects, but it only reveals those instances where a task had already started.
Step 2: Review All Tasks control chart view:
Another important check is reviewing the All Tasks control chart view. Any red squares should be reviewed to see if task start dates have not been reported correctly.
Who should verify this information?
The person responsible for entering data should quality check his/her own work. This could be a Superintendent or a Project Engineer, depending on your organization. In addition, it is beneficial to have the person responsible for implementing LBMS (the Champion), do spot checks on all ongoing projects especially during the first months of production control.
What happens if the information is inconsistent?
If progress has not been entered, the task progress to current date becomes a forecast and manhours included in that location will not show up in completion reports. As a result, the forecasts tend to show too optimistic results. On the other hand, forgotten “unimportant” tasks can easily start to push the project forecast, especially if they have been hidden in normal production control views. To get the best possible information for production control, all information should be kept up-to-date.
The data collected on the weekly walk-through by Superintendents is quite robust. The Control Chart includes data collection for crew actuals, percent put in place, and quantities. Collecting this data is not only necessary for proper forecasting, but is also critical for project data mining down the road. Future negotiations with subs can be supplemented with these actuals. Future scheduling and estimating on concept stage models can also be fleshed out with this data. So take the time now to incorporate these best practices and your firm will be rewarded with comprehensive project statistics.
To learn more about Production Control on the construction jobsite, please review the following resources: