To manage a schedule, the project manager must know how the work is progressing compared to the master schedule, and, if necessary, make the changes required to keep the project on time.
Tracking the schedule performance involves measuring the work performed against the work expected to be performed, and with a given expenditure of resources. Periodic reporting on the progress of the project provides the project management team with information on how the project is performing against expectations, allowing them to make decisions and corrections as required. Accurate measurement of schedule performance requires planning during the early stages of the project to determine the unit of measure and the process for tracking progress.
To determine the percentage of a project that has been completed, the project manager must determine what to measure: Time, Effort, Costs, etc.
Tracking the Time
This constitutes the roadmap for the project. Tracking can be done by conducting periodic project status meetings, evaluating the results of reviews, determining whether milestones were reached by their scheduled dates, comparing actual starts to planned start dates, etc.
Tracking the Effort
Actual efforts are tracked in order to show the actual effort incurred during the completed portions of tasks and the remaining effort planned for the remaining portions of tasks.
Tracking the Earned Value
Earned value is the approved budget for the work actually completed by a specified date. It is also referred to as the BCWP (Budgeted Cost of Work Performed).
You should keep in mind that the most important thing is not the type of tracking you are going to use, but rather the accuracy of the values entered.
Whatever method is used to prepare and display the Gantt chart, progress assessment is simply a matter of checking that all the tasks (or portions of tasks) lying to the left of the date cursor have been completed. Doing so highlights all of the tasks that are running late. Gantt bars can be used to plot progress. For this purpose, a date cursor can be added, which is a vertical line placed on the Gantt chart at the review date.
In Sciforma, the review date is called the As Of Date.
You may choose not to use “today” as the base date for the calculation of the plan. It may, for example, be more convenient to base the calculations on next Monday or the day after tomorrow. It would be unusual if this base date were more than a few days in the future because too many things could change between now and then.
The As Of Date is not the same as the Completed date which is the date up to which tasks have been completed.
Monitoring a schedule is the project management activity whereby progress on project tasks is compared against the schedule baseline to determine whether the project is ahead of or behind schedule. Based on the deviation, you can plan on corrective or preventive actions and manage discrepancies with the baseline. This process when managed well will, thus, help reduce the risk of delivery slippage.
If you used the Critical Path method to develop the schedule, then look at tasks on the critical path or near the critical path for slippage. If any of these tasks have slipped, then the project completion date may be impacted and, hence, these tasks need to be closely monitored. You can describe a task’s schedule performance either by noting the dates it began and ended on or by describing how much of it has been completed.
If you choose to describe your project’s schedule performance by noting the status of individual tasks, collect either or both of the following data items to support your analysis:
The start and end dates for each task in your project
The dates when milestones (such as “contract signed”, “materials received”, or “environmental test completed”) are reached
Be careful if you decide to use % Completed to indicate a task’s progress, because there is, generally, no clear way to determine this percentage.
Sciforma uses the following vocabulary when talking about Tracking Time:
The Actual Start is the date the task actually started. Once an Actual Start is entered, that date is anchored to the task and no other scheduling constraints can move that task.
The Actual Start can’t be changed when the % Completed (or Completed Duration) is greater than zero.
The Actual Finish is the date the task actually finished. Task durations can be modified until an Actual Finish has been entered.
Once an Actual Finish is entered, the Completed Date is automatically updated to the same date, and the % Completed is automatically updated to 100%. This reflects the completion of the task.
The Completed Duration represents the amount of duration time completed on a task.
The Remaining Duration represents the amount of duration time remaining to be completed on a task.
The Completed Date represents the date up to which the task has progressed or been completed.
Duration = Completed Duration + Remaining Duration
This equation is valid only if you have no more than one resource assigned on the task.
% Completed = (Completed Duration/(Completed Duration + Remaining Duration)) x 100
If something causes a task’s Start Date to be postponed, the Delay can be used to reflect this change in the schedule. For example, if a worker who is essential to the completion of a task becomes ill, work on that task may be delayed until the worker returns to work.
Once actuals are entered, it is important that the Project Manager analyze his/her project and reschedule the plan if necessary.
All tasks on the left hand side of the As Of Date should be in one of the following states:
Tasks are completed (Gantt bars should be green).
Tasks are partially completed, and the remaining part should be delayed after the As Of Date, if no more information is known.
Tasks haven’t started yet, so the remaining part should be completely delayed after the As Of Date, if no more information is known.