Preparing for a Schedule Risk Analysis

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I'm a risk enthusiast who likes to discuss techniques, tools and models—and use risk as a practical means to make better decisions in project environments. Join me on the ride!

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Recently I posted a poll right here in projectmanagement.com (here) concerning how you prepare a schedule to undertake a schedule risks analysis.

My idea was to understand how you out there see the question of getting a schedule ready for the simulation exercise. I gave you five possible answers:

  • No preparation needed, I just use my regular schedule as is (20 votes)
  • I try to reduce the number of tasks (9 votes)
  • I check the logic links and make sure all tasks are connected (61 votes)
  • I reduce tasks AND check the links (24 votes)
  • I refer to classic audit schemes, like the 14-point assessment (25 votes)

 My answer was number four, “I reduce tasks AND check the links. 17% of the respondents (139 in total) were with me on this. Now let me explain why.

In my case, I usually start with the schedule we use to monitor the progress. It tends to be quite detailed, and have a lot of information that we use to control progress, like issuing reports, preparing for meetings, doing governance, etc. All this tasks go away. Some procurement packages, for instance, have fourty steps and others have ten. I try to harmonize this, so the tasks have some similarity. This reduces a lot of work.

And of course I check the links between tasks, which is a simulation killer, one of the favorite GIGO drivers and a strong sponsor to terrible decision making. With this done, I move on to doing stress analysis and other tests to see which tasks are worthy to model with a distribution. Going further forward, I start consulting experts and doing data crunching to know how exactly I am going to model that. At last, but not surely least, I add events and their mitigation. You can check my series of articles on Qualitative and Quantitative Risk Analyses Integration, starting with this one.

Moving back to our poll, I always thought my answer would win by a landslide, but I understand all the other answers and I will develop a rationale for them, if you allow me:

  • No preparation needed, I just use my regular schedule as is (20 votes, or 14%) – Maybe you have a schedule which is already lean and you the tasks are really balanced. And it is already completely linked. I get that.
  • I try to reduce the number of tasks (9 votes, or 6%) – Reducing the number of tasks is coherent with some best practices in Schedule Risk Analysis. Hulett (2006) is one of the many who advise having a smaller schedule.
  • I check the logic links and make sure all tasks are connected (61 votes, or 44%) – This goes without saying. No logic links means you do not have a schedule. You are not ready to open the door. Go back and get that key!
  • I reduce tasks AND check the links (24 votes, or 17%) – My option, I already said something about it.
  • I refer to classic audit schemes, like the 14-point assessment (25 votes, or 18%) – it is quite interesting to use some methods like the 14-point assessment, which relies on things like logic links, very long or very small tasks, a balance between types of tasks on the schedule and some others. The reason I did not check this one is that I never found one of those schemes who served me completely, without the need for correction. But I completely understand who opted for this, especially if they are under a PMO environment, and things must adhere to a standardized process.

Anyway, thank you for responding to my poll, thank you for reading, and please post comments whether you agree or not with what I said. See you all next time!

Posted on: September 18, 2018 03:19 PM | Permalink

Comments (8)

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Guilherem,

This is a very interesting rationale and feedback, thanks. However, I still do not fully get why would you want to reduce the number of tasks. I am for sure missing something so can you eleborate with more details please and maybe walks us through an example ?

Awesome information! Thanks a lot for your insights!

Rami, thank you for your input. Many risk pros advise you to reduce to schedule to run faster simulations. In addition to that, I would add that, if you have two work packages of, let's say, 40 days, broken down differently, their impacts might be very different. Consider the first one has five tasks and the other has twenty. If you add similar distributions to them (percentually speaking), they will produce different results and have very different scores in your Tornado. So what I'm trying to say is to have some coherence and go to what's really importante. I will write some material on that for a further post, ok?

Sounds Good Guilherme, thank you. I look forward to seeing your post on tis specific issue.

The variety of responses to your poll just shows how one project can be managed a thousand different ways.

Interesting analysis of the poll.

Interesting, I'll follow up.

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