Planning Progress Records | Best Practice
Most contracts will identify the creation of the Baseline (As-Planned) programme and the regular reporting periods. FIDIC contracts refers to the Baseline under Clause 14 or 8.3. An essential project tool is a programme which allows the project team to understand where they are, where they are going and how to get there.
However, the project tool is only as good as the effort used to create it, and the effort used to update it. In recent years, my company has witnessed a deterioration in the planning skills on many projects resulting in errors in project updates, with project values ranging between USD 100 million to USD 1 billion.
We noted that the common errors that occur between progress updates refer to progress percentages decreasing between updates, actual dates changing from ‘it started to hasn’t started’ to a ‘revelation that it started six months ago and we forget to record the actual start or record any progress in the six months.’
Other changes are in durations, both original and remaining, the latter appears to be forgetfulness of the planner when using a physical percentage update method which requires both a percentage and number of days to be entered into Primavera. Any error in the progress update can result in producing an unrealistic forecast completion and or critical path.
[Note for non-Primavera users: progress update can be by a measure of units of work installed, physical, which is a percent complete figure and a remaining duration to complete the work, and finally the duration percent of work complete.]
So with the deterioration in skill level resulting in increasing errors, how can the project tool for time be relied upon when actual data required for the progress updates is incorrect?
Records are part of the solution to resolving the progress updates. When was the last time you asked the planning engineer “how do you know the block work started on the 03 February?” or “what’s driving the critical path in this progress update?” These are key basic questions that if the planner engineer has kept records, he can answer the first question, which will provide a good basis for the response to the second question. I appreciate obsolete logic due to sequence change or errors in the original logic will affect the critical path. If the progress update is created with substantiated data, it will be easy for a planning engineer to identify if the critical path does not match the reality on site. If this situation arises the progress updates should be reviewed, discussed and where necessary amended, recording the changes made and why.
So how should records for progress updates be used or collated?
Every time a progress update is created new data has to be entered into the programme. Before any data is entered, it should have a record to support where the data came from and a separate file created for the records for the progress update. The progress update file should contain all substantiated data entered with supporting documents and a list of any logic changed with the explanation of the change. This creates a factual planning progress record of the data used in the update. The planning engineer should take responsibility for the progress and be mindful of the data used for the progress update, the forecast completion and critical path relies on the data being correct.
The result of this record keeping will alleviate issues associated with the update “being wrong due to incorrect data” and would then focus on the logic of the tasks. Additional benefits are if your project is delayed the critical project tool is reliable to be used to demonstrate where the project was delayed.
The recent SCL protocol, and indeed many delay analysts, have focused on As-Planned v As-Built as a reliable form of analysis. I believe partly because progress updates are incorrect and do not reflect the reality of the site progress and critical works, this reduces the effectiveness of prospective methods of analysis. Thus the method As-Planned v As-Built relies on what was agreed at the start of the project (As-Planned) against the facts, which are the records (As-Built).
Any form of analysis requires records and if your project fails to or is poor in maintaining records, your chances of claiming or defending an extension of time will be significantly reduced if at all possible. If the costs or damages associated with the time are high, then companies tend to hire external consultants to gather information to produce the records. This however is extremely costly and can be avoided so easily by simply maintaining good records through the project lifetime.
Keep records of your progress data.
This blog was authored by ICCP Fellow, Lee Sporle, Managing Director at Sporle Consultancy Services.