Schedule Health Assessment Overview

What if I asked you if your project schedule is healthy?

Before we answer that question, let’s discuss what makes a project schedule effective and useful. An effective project schedule is a schedule that provides reliable forecasts. That’s it. Pure and simple!

Our project schedule must be capable of providing reliable forecasts. We are going to use our project schedule to forecast start and finish dates for tasks. We are also going to use our project schedule to forecast when the project will be completed or when key milestones are going to be achieved.

Just as we can see in the image below, each of our tasks and milestones has a start date and a finish date assigned to it. These are actually forecasted start and forecasted finish dates. And we want to be confident in the quality of these forecast dates.

So an effective project schedule is a schedule that provides reliable forecasts.

That is great, but what makes a project schedule healthy? Well, a healthy schedule is a project schedule that is built according to best practices. It is a project schedule that has an underlying structure that allows it to provide reliable, accurate forecasts.

The structure of the schedule has to be built in a way that allows the schedule to adjust forecasts based on changes such as increased task duration or a late task start. And we all know that things change once we start a project.

We wish that the project was executed according to our planned schedule but the reality is that some tasks take longer than expected, some tasks start later than planned, resources get delayed. All kinds of things can go wrong. And the schedule has to be built in a way that it can accommodate these changes and still produce reliable forecasts. The schedule has to be healthy to be effective.

To assess the structure of the project schedule, we perform a schedule health assessment. There are several schedule health assessment guides out there. One of the most popular is the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) 14 Point Assessment. And there are several software applications available on the market that perform schedule health assessments. The reality is that you need external tools to do schedule health assessments. They are almost impossible to do manually.

One tool that we have at Baseline Achieved to perform schedule health assessments is Project X-Ray. Project X-Ray rips through your project schedule and checks dozens of scheduling best practice metrics. And it allows you to also drill down into the schedule to see the exact tasks or milestones that need attention. Below is a sample interactive report produced by Project X-Ray.

And there definitely benefits to performing a schedule health assessment. The benefits include:

  • Reliable forecasts
  • Ability to trace dependencies between tasks
  • Ability to identify the Critical Path
  • Ability to see the impact of changes
  • Ability to calculate Total Float
  • Improved communications
  • A schedule that you have confidence in

Each metric of Project X-Ray will be discussed in upcoming blogs to provide you with better insight into why we are checking each metric. Ultimately we want to be confident in the forecasts our schedule provides. And each metric is important. And we want you to understand why…

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