Challenges and Opportunities to Promote Collaborative Scheduling

RT-362 Topic Summary
RT 362


CII challenged Research Team 362 (RT-362) to consider methods of scheduling beyond the industry’s standard, the critical path method (CPM). Other industries have begun using newer, apparently more collaborative methods, and RT-362 considered how these other methods might be used with or as a replacement for the CPM method. The team came to focus on collaborative scheduling (CS), which it defined as “a comprehensive process that aligns and engages stakeholders throughout the life cycle of the project in order to coordinate activities and resources and to achieve its goal.”

RT-362’s initial consideration of the drivers of and obstacles to the development and implementation of CS enabled it to identify influences and key components to CS, and ultimately to build a maturity model. The team used a survey to collect practitioners’ perceptions about CS practices in real-life projects and to gauge the impact these practices have on key performance indicators (KPIs), such as cost, schedule, quality, safety, and teamwork. With this knowledge, the team developed an interview protocol and used interviews to collect contextual information about how schedules are currently developed in the industry. These findings informed the team’s recommendations for improving CS. Building on its efforts, CII Best Practices, published literature, and the knowledge of subject matter experts (SMEs), the team developed a three-tiered maturity model, which became the heart of Final Report 362 (FR-362), Challenges and Opportunities to Promote Collaborative Scheduling.

With the support of the SMEs, the team developed a weighted system to identify which pillars and lanes have the most influence or impact in the maturity model as organizations move from one level to the next. In parallel, the team created a weighting system for the maturity model practices, a separate analysis that used survey responses and the KPIs to reveal chains of practices that have the potential to influence specific KPIs. An organization starts its CS journey by aiming to improve its CS process based on the recommendation of RT-362’s maturity model, use CS practices to improve KPIs, and/or follow practical recommendations for the different stages of planning, scheduling, and building a project.

The maturity model enables an organization to benchmark itself against CS practices, gauge its progress toward the development and implementation of CS, and/or understand how specific CS-related practices are perceived to impact specific KPIs. RT-362’s maturity model allows an organization to assess its CS process and prioritize its actions according to specific areas (lanes) distributed into three levels (bronze, silver, and gold) across the five pillars that support the CS effort (Scheduling Significance, Planners & Schedulers, Scheduling Representation, Goal Alignment with Owner, and Communication). Each pillar contains specific actions with specific practices organized into a total of 23 lanes arranged in three levels according to their ability to support CS. For instance, the Goal Alignment pillar has three lanes – Alignment, Interaction, and Expectations – and offers descriptions for the bronze, silver, and gold levels of collaboration.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : The Five Pillars of the Maturity Model

RT-362 categorized 23 collaborative scheduling practices into five pillars, which are the foundation for its maturity model. The team identified these model components through focus group discussions with SMEs and by developing affinity diagrams to organize the clusters into pillars and lanes (FR-362, in press).

Reference: (FR-362)

2 : Scoring Criteria for the Maturity Model

The team established scoring criteria cut-offs for each level, based on the results of projects provided by survey respondents. The researchers analyzed each project by using the k-means clustering algorithm. This analysis used a total of 241 valid responses (FR-362, in press).

Reference: (FR-362)

3 : Which Pillars Are Most Important for Achieving Gold Status

RT-362 identified two pillars as the most important to enable organizations to achieve gold status on CS: Goal Alignment with Owner and Scheduling Significance. Within the Goal Alignment with Owner pillar, Expectations bears the most weight in this process. In the Scheduling Significance pillar, Culture is most important. The figure highlights the most effective lane for each pillar, which the team identified by using Multi-Objective Decision Analysis (MODA, a utility-based analysis technique) and the Delphi Method (FR-362, in press).

Reference: (FR-362)

4 : How CS Practices Can Be Aligned to Improve the KPIs

A chain of CS practices can be used in sequence to improve project performance. The figure illustrates how practices can be aligned to improve the performance of the five KPIs defined in the project, an analysis that resulted from using Chow-Lee trees (FR-362, in press).

Reference: (FR-362)

5 : Which Lane Has the Greatest Impact on Each Pillar

The figure illustrates the most effective lanes for each pillar, relative to that pillar’s influence on the KPIs. For instance, the team identified having a Planning Mindset in the project as the most important lane in the Planners and Schedulers pillar because it is one of the top five lanes overall and affects both the Safety and Teamwork KPIs (FR-362, in press).

Reference: (FR-362)

6 : Which Lanes Have the Greatest Impact on Specific KPIs

The three most effective practices were grouped under two pillars: Goal Alignment with Owner (green in the figure) and Scheduling Significance (purple). The Expectations and Interaction lanes under Goal Alignment with Owner were in the top three positions for the KPIs, while Scheduling Significance’s Visibility lane affected every KPI but Safety within the top three levels, and its Culture lane affected the Teamwork KPI at the top level (FR-362, in press).

Reference: (FR-362)

7 : How Consistently Industry Implements the CS Practices and the Practices’ Impacts on the KPIs

As the figure shows, the 241 survey respondents perceived nine CS practices as consistently implemented, 21 as not consistently implemented, and two as consistently not implemented (FR-362, in press).