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The Schedule as a Symptom

The more I think about it the more I am convinced that many people see the schedule as the problem rather than a symptom of some other problem. Schedules even in the best case are an abstraction of the work to be done. They delineate the work to be done and place it in chronological order with some notion of the relationships between tasks and resources required. There is always some art involved in this representation and while some lovingly craft a beautiful still-life others are fingerpainting or making sketches or perhaps even painting by number. But in this process they sometimes forget that the progress of the project is actually being achieved by people/things doing things. And for a large part, schedule "problems" are a result of the problems with those activities.

I'm sure that most people know this, just the same as they know their speedometer is a good measure of engine health only when it drops far below where it should be, but at that point most of the damage has been done. My point isn't that you should ignore schedules, but rather that some other, more immediate measure should also be used to understand how healthy your progress is. If you are not using those sorts of objective measures to drive the schedule you may be too abstracted from the actual work.


Comments (1)


This is why schedules must be constructed so as to "forecast" the future performance of the project. This is done by defining in the schedule "maturity assessment" activities, rather than indicators of the passage of time. The latter is "driving in the rear view mirror." Progress is reported after the fact with the arrival at milestones or the completion of activities - only to find that the delivered results were unacceptable.

A maturity assessment based schedule asks and answers the question "what capabilities are needed at each maturity assessment point in the schedule, how do I confirm that this capability is present - exit criteria or Accomplishment Criteria; and what accomplishments must take place in order to deliver the desired (planned) capabilities at the desired (planned) level of maturity?"

This is the foundation of Capability Based Planning (used in must defense systems in the free world) and Integrated Master Schedule which is matruity assessment based - vertically integrated - rather than functional and time passage assessment - horizontally integrated.

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