MANAGING RISK OF DELAY – Progress Assessment (Part 11)

This post is the eleventh in a series of discussions regarding various aspects of time management as it relates to the risk of delay.  This post addresses planning for and implementing progress assessment.

Planning for and implementing progress assessment is, perhaps, one of the most important aspects of Time Management and, consequently, Managing Risk of Delay.  Timely (early) detection of trends (positive and negative) allows timely managerial action.  Timeliness of action is a heavy influence over the effectiveness of Time Management.  In project work, it is imperative that one finds problems quickly and fixes these problems rapidly.  In order to implement timely action, professional progress assessment is required.

The challenge associated with managing time is intensified in the case of larger and more complex projects as well as fast-track and high technology projects.

In order to professionally manage time (and, therefore, risk of delay) the manager must have a time baseline [typically a Critical Path Method schedule and a Performance Measurement Baseline – please see earlier posts on these topics] and a method to recognize variations from the baseline.  In order to detect variances, the managerial team must have an effective process to measure progress data and update the schedule (or time model).

As a project/construction/contracts/business manager and similar, it is imperative that you define your project execution approach as it relates to progress measurement, schedule updates and progress assessments.  The “water-shed” or uses of the information are enormous.

In this discussion, I will use three key references:

The CIOB Guide covers Progress Monitoring with the following advice and discussion regarding Earned Value Management:

“ Earned-value management (EVM) is a practice based on earned-value analysis (EVA).  [Snip]  It is a more sophisticated method of progress monitoring by value than cash-flow monitoring as it attributes actual rather than notional vales to the activities either by reference to the financial value or the labour/plant-resource value, or both.  Provided that the productivity achieved in the valuation period is precisely calculated, this can give a useful illustration of the progress achieved against what was planned to be achieved by reference to the earned value of the comparable work.”

“ EVM is established by allocating a budget to the plan usually this is in terms of money and man-days).  [other resources such as contract value are good choices insert by contributor].  From that data a cumulative-expenditure graph [sometimes called a progress or S curve insert by contributor] can be drawn for the project overall and for elements within the WBS, known as the planned value.”

“ Provided that the work content and the sequence of the schedule used as the baseline are the same as the current schedule, then the benefits of EVA will be:

  • Identification of what work has been achieved against the plan; and what it has cost to reach that level of achievement
  • Whether the work achieved has been achieved efficiently
  • Whether the project is likely to finish on time [snip]”

Under the heading Advantages of Earned Value, Murray Woolf observes and advises:

“Earned Value is a fascinating improvement in project management, providing the project with many real benefits, principally through its ability to evaluate performance trends and speculate on project outcomes, accordingly.  More than anything, Earned Value provides an ‘early warning’ to management about efficiency of resource performance in terms of cost and schedule variables.”

Earned Value also makes good use of the concept of trending; something conventional CPM fails to do very well.  [Snip]  Earned Value looks at the performance of work, calculates performance trends, and then speculates on a more realistic cost-at-completion.”

The relationship between activity/task duration and update cycle is very important.  The selection and planning must be consistent with the management challenge.  Some considerations or factors that influence the choice are:

  • Critical and near-critical paths or fragnets – importance
  • Key work or trades
  • Phase of the project
  • Early to establish progress and productivity baselines.

Since this process is normally linked to Earned Value Management and productivity, the choice is influenced by the managerial strategy.  These tools are building blocks for managerial implementation.

When M&M undertakes an assignment involving program/project development, planning and/or management, we integrate both critical path time management and Earned Value Management practices and procedures into project execution.

Good luck and let us all attempt to approach the issue of Time-Management strategy with all the factors in an integrated manner (critical path progress, bulk progress or EVM, and productivity) relative to other related aspects of program and project execution planning.  In planning for these practices, consideration must be given to progress measurement, schedule updates and progress assessment.

It is important to note that McLaughlin and McLaughlin [M&M] is not a law firm and is not intending to provide legal advice.  M&M is a consulting firm providing (among other services) non-legal expertise in dispute resolution and litigation support.  The Resource Center is for the convenience of blog visitors and M&M does not offer this for commercial purposes.  For further information on M&M services, please see