In our industry, there will always be a great payoff for investing in scheduling. It is curious to watch various companies in various industries who have not yet ascertained the potential value of their return on scheduling. Others figured out years or even decades ago that the true currency of turnarounds is not dollars, but hours. It is true you only have a limited supply of dollars to spend, but it is hours spent that most often determines how many dollars you will need. Hours most often determine whether you will finish over or under budget, finishing ahead of schedule or behind. So why does investing in scheduling have such a high promise of return?
A well-built turnaround schedule that is widely published and rigorously applied yields many benefits. First, it encompasses and drives the earliest strategic milestones and activities, allowing intervention at the time when it will have the greatest impact on the success of the turnaround. The later we take corrective action, the lesser the positive impact on the turnaround. Secondly, a good schedule accounts for long-lead deliverables, ensuring orders are placed in a timely fashion, tracked for appropriate progress and allows justifiable confidence in delivery dates. Finally, a good schedule presents an optimized game plan around which contractors and owners can agree and synergize. There is sufficient clarity to execute the various tasks and sufficient detail to track the progress of the tasks. There is ample strategy utilized in the schedule to exploit all opportunities for the simultaneous scheduling of tasks.
Investing in scheduling means you start with a scheduler who is a true industry professional. A scheduler must be able to do so much more than entering data, coding it and tying logic. A professional scheduler understands what the software is doing and why it is doing it. Knowing how to correctly set user preferences, apply project settings and scheduling options, as well as how to apply site-specific scheduling methodology allows a professional scheduler to write global changes efficiently, allowing for easy modification of mass data in the schedule if the plan changes during execution. Good schedulers are able to interpret reporting data, forecast results and spot red flags, and focus the turnaround team on the most relevant information. Having a sense for whether the progress updates from the field are accurate or not, professional schedulers do not merely report information but rather make viable recommendations based on the report data.
Investing in scheduling means tracking and enforcing schedule compliance, not only during the mechanical execution phase but throughout the execution of every phase of the project. Schedule compliance should highlight the performance of each company as a whole and each craft within the company (including the owner’s crafts). It should also highlight the performance of the execution coordinators who are responsible for ensuring fieldwork is expedited. During execution, schedule compliance reports should be generated daily and publicized widely throughout the turnaround organization. Contractors, as well as site employees, should be held accountable to comply with the schedule in a very strict fashion.
Stephen Covey almost got it right when he said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” The truth is, you only get the highest dividends when you do both: after you schedule your priorities, you would do well to prioritize what’s on your schedule!
Investing in scheduling means ensuring those who supervise schedulers are trained and competent to do so. At a minimum, they must know how to assess the skills of a scheduler, be familiar with the capabilities of the scheduling software and be aware of industry best practices regarding scheduling. When you choose Onpoint for Turnaround Management services such as Schedule Quality Check and Quantitative Schedule Risk Analysis, you’re setting your project up for success and equipping a workforce for seamless execution.