Integrated Master Schedules

September 5, 2014

Simpler Integrated Master Schedules (IMS) are needed to have an understandable and usable schedule for the whole project team.

When building Integrated Master Schedules (IMS), we need to go back to the basics of planning. In Microsoft Project specifically, not every new, niche option and setting needs to be used just because it exists. More and more, planners’ training is focused not on how to create a schedule network, but how to simply use Microsoft Project. The resulting IMSs often turn into schedules that are misleading and misunderstood by the whole program team. IMS logic needs to be simple and straightforward. For instance, cut back on anything that is not a Finish to Start relationship. Stop putting constraint dates in the schedule because it is easier than getting the correct logic from the engineer. Do not use the often logic-breaking manually scheduled tasks feature (why Microsoft has this as an option is beyond me). inspect scheduleA CAM or program manager needs to understand how scheduling tools work, and asking them to understand all of the complex logic, the multiple calendars effect on slack, and so on just makes it more difficult. Certainly, there are times when some these options are necessary, but the use of these features must be kept to a minimum. Training focused on planning and building a logical schedule network is a must before planners are tasked to be a part of the program team.

Additional to this training, the planner needs an efficient way to analyze the schedule and get a report to let them know if there are any issues that may affect the schedule. These issues are what we believe should not be utilized in a schedule to ensure a proper forecast and help team members understand what the schedule tool is doing. Therefore, OPDEC created the Microsoft Project Add-In Utility of “Inspect Schedule”.

The “Inspect Schedule” utility consists of a series of schedule integrity checks that are divided into two groups: General and Status. The checks located in the General section of the list check your schedule for various task attributes that are typically undesirable, but may be acceptable. The checks in the Status group look for task inconsistencies that interfere with the IPM status procedures.

Selecting the check box next to each task will mark it as a check you would like to perform. After a check has been performed, a number will appear in the Issues Found column indicating how many problem tasks were detected. Clicking on the check (not the associated check box) will apply a filter to your schedule, showing you the tasks identified by the check.

See the quick demo below of how to use the Inspect Schedule utility:


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