Technical Program Abstracts

(PS) Planning and Scheduling

(PS-2744) Enhanced Evaluation of Schedule Updates

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Joseph R. Hellenbrand, PE PSP; Brittany Myren
Time/Location: Sunday, June 24 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm / Coronado D (4th Floor)


[Level: Advanced] The ability to understand the impact that changed or new schedule logic has on a project schedule is critical in Project Management. AACE current Recommended Practice 53R06 “Schedule Update Review – As Applied in Engineering, Procurement, and Construction” provides guidelines for project schedulers in creating a schedule update and for project reviewers to assess the reasonableness of changes in a schedule update. Since the latest version of this Recommended Practice was issued, software is being used by project teams to perform a more enhanced analysis of the reasonableness and accuracy of a schedule update. This practical applications paper demonstrates how to review schedule updates using these programs by reviewing the capabilities of Deltek Acumen Fuse. Often, changes to a schedule are described in a schedule narrative or buried in a ‘claim digger’ style comparison report, so impact of these changes is not always clear or understood. Modern analytical programs make it possible to see the impacts and risk associated with changes made to schedules. This enhanced evaluation of progress, changes, and revisions to schedule logic will allow the Project team to understand the challenges a project faces.

(PS-2752) Phantom Float in Commercial Scheduling Software

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Diana M. Franco-Duran; Jesús M. de la Garza
Time/Location: Monday, June 25 from 2:15pm to 3:15pm / Coronado D (4th Floor)


[Level: Basic] On a regular basis, professionals use commercial available software to resource load the schedules without paying attention to the resulting critical path. The studies found in the literature agree that Primavera™ is the most frequently used software in the construction industry, followed by Microsoft Project™.

These two programs fix the resource supply-demand problem by performing a Resource-Constrained Scheduling (RCS) technique. However, they report incorrect total float values and a broken critical path. RCS calculations suggest that activities have float but much of this float does not exist - hence, the name of phantom float. The aim of this paper is to illustrate the presence of phantom float in Primavera’s P6 and Microsoft’s Project schedules.

Phantom float is created in resource-constrained schedules because the existing RCS methodologies neglect the resource relationships that arise between activities when competing for the same but unavailable resources. Construction professionals as habitual users of scheduling software should recognize the presence of phantom float because it may lead them to make decisions based on unrealistic schedules. That is, non-critical activities may become resource critical and the actual float may be shorter than calculated or may be altogether nonexistent. Currently, research is being carried out in order to remove phantom float from P6 and Microsoft Project schedules.

(PS-2768) Understanding the Techniques to Update a Schedule

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Paul Eastwood Harris, CCP
Time/Location: Monday, June 25 from 5:15pm to 6:15pm / Coronado D (4th Floor)


[Level: Intermediate] Microsoft Project, Oracle Primavera P6 and Asta Powerproject are three commonly used software packages in the building and construction industry. 

There are many techniques used to update a schedule and the selected technique is influenced by many factors including:

•             The contract specification requirements

•             The software package being used

•             The users’ knowledge and skill in the software package

This paper identifies and introduces three different principal techniques used in the building and construction industry to update a schedule.

The aim of this document is to outline:

1.            Three techniques that are currently used to update a schedule,

2.            The advantages and disadvantages of each technique, and

3.            How Microsoft Project, Oracle Primavera P6 and Asta Powerproject support these three techniques.

Professional schedulers are usually familiar with Microsoft Project and/or Oracle Primavera P6, but many are unfamiliar with Asta Powerproject due to the lower market penetration of this software. This paper will give people who are unfamiliar with Asta Powerproject an insight into some the capabilities of this software.

(PS-2796) Working with Layouts and Gantt Charts

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Abbas Saifi
Time/Location: Monday, June 25 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm / Coronado E (4th Floor)


[Level: Basic] Primavera®P6 is a scheduling tool and many think it is best used to prepare a project schedule. However, once the schedule is done, there is a need to understand the schedule and the logic to make it happen in the field. This paper demonstrates the effective way of creating different layouts from scratch, and using them to satisfy different stakeholders’ requirements. With the layouts, this paper also demonstrates how effective filters can be used to graphically represent a set of activities for proper tracking and monitoring. This combination of layouts and filtered color-coded Gantt charts will better highlight key information for the stakeholders, reducing the chance for miscommunication and confusion.

(PS-2816) Liars and Schedules

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Nelson E. Bonilla, CCP FAACE
Time/Location: Monday, June 25 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm / Coronado D (4th Floor)


[Level: Basic] A schedule is a road map made by the project planner/scheduler that should guide those involved toward the project execution. However, without the full engagement of project stakeholders in the schedule development, the final document will lack the execution team ownership and will merely serve as a target for criticism.

In line with these requirements, this paper will address: Roles and responsibilities of the project team members that would ensure the success of the planning/scheduling effort, requirements and objectives for the development of a plan/schedule, the role of the planner/scheduler in ensuring that stakeholders are actively engaged in the schedule development and reviews, and the big picture as the driver of the schedule.

In addition. the success of a project planner/scheduler and his/her role as a key partner in the project execution requires that he/she be a team integrator. Otherwise, the schedule will not be useful as the road map for project execution.

(PS-2821) Play Ball – Challenges of Planning & Scheduling a Major Sports Facility

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Daniel P. Gilmour, PSP; Steven F. Duvall, PSP
Time/Location: Monday, June 25 from 11:30am to 12:30pm / Coronado D (4th Floor)


[Level: Basic] Modern major league sports facilities present numerous challenges to planning and scheduling professionals - increasingly fast delivery timelines, the navigation of joint venture environments, the politics of public funding, and the growing trend toward integrated mixed-use developments and entertainment districts.  Using a recently constructed 60-acre, $1 billion stadium and entertainment district as a case study, this paper will explore lessons learned and detail best practices in the successful and efficient planning and scheduling of a major sports facility.  Specific challenges and strategies addressed in this presentation include activity and logic density, update frequency, managing project changes, communicating with project stakeholders of varying levels of sophistication, embracing new technological resources to aid initial planning and improve maintenance accuracy, and evaluating quality standards on high activity volume, multi-milestone scheduling programs.

(PS-2841) Preventing Fire Drills via Stellar Reporting

Author(s)/Presenter(s): David D. Rose; Marina G. Sominsky, PSP
Time/Location: Monday, June 25 from 5:15pm to 6:15pm / Coronado E (4th Floor)


[Level: Intermediate] In the complex world of programs overseen by government executives, the project controls teams frequently find themselves putting out fires when the smooth running and predictability of a project are impacted by unplanned and sudden requests. Examples of these include congressional reports, changes to budgets, and even government shutdowns.  When the urgent email pops into the inbox, the ‘fire drill’ begins, and all other priorities get pushed aside, while the team scrambles to address the issue at hand. 

The Federal Aviation Administration’s EnRoute Technical Assistance Support Services program - with three $400 million contracts – includes various aviation related mission critical programs, which generate its share of fire drills for project controls teams.  A team on one of those programs, namely the Terminal Automation Modernization and Replacement program, has discovered that it is better to prevent the smoke, than to fight the fire.

Proactively identifying and reporting the status of likely ‘hot issues’ helps to keep the program on track, as well as avoid interrupting the team’s productivity. Two experienced schedulers, who are also Project Management Professionals, present this paper on how to prevent ‘fire drills’, leveraging previous lessons learned and automatically generated reports that anticipate and mitigate the next fire drill.

(PS-2842) Proposing a Better Definition of Critical Path

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Mark C. Sanders, PE CCP CFCC PSP; Mark F. Nagata, PSP
Time/Location: Tuesday, June 26 from 10:15am to 11:15am / Coronado D (4th Floor)


[Level: Intermediate] How does one define the term Critical Path? Is it the longest path? Is it the path with the lowest total float? Does the definition depend on the details of the project? After six decades of practicing the critical path method, is there a consensus definition for the concept at its core? This paper presents a proposal for revisions to AACE International Standard 10S-90 to clarify the definitions for Critical Path, Longest Path, and their related terms. Discussion and debate is encouraged prior to formal submittal of the proposed revisions to the Technical Board. Other technical societies that have sought to define these terms will be encouraged to reference or adopt AACE International’s definitions.

(PS-2871) A Realistic Look at Float Consumption

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Greg M. Hall, PSP
Time/Location: Monday, June 25 from 10:15am to 11:15am / Coronado E (4th Floor)


[Level: Advanced] Float is an integral part of CPM scheduling.  Without it, project teams would have difficulty identifying the activities requiring attention, or in predicting the significance of a delay or disruption.  But mathematically determined float does not cleanly translate to the urgency of completing an operation in the real world.

Nowhere is this lack of definition starker than in the concept of float consumption, or the reduction in float of non-critical activities caused by a delay or disruption.  In real-world CPM networks, resource limitations are often expressed through changeable Resource-Driven Logic. These ‘soft’ relationships can be modified to mitigate delays, but this dynamic greatly complicates Float Consumption theory.

This paper will focus on evaluation of more accurate methods to determine Resiliency, or how much stress can be applied to a project schedule before delay can no longer be mitigated.  The fallacy of critical path ‘purity’ on resource-constrained projects will also be explored, as will such projects’ resistance to accurate Monte Carlo style predictive analysis. This paper will then push beyond simplistic float concepts and explore the working relationship and communication needed for an owner and contractor to manage potential and realized delay.

(PS-2919) The Power of Look-Ahead Schedules

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Devang B. Dedhia, PSP
Time/Location: Sunday, June 24 from 5:15pm to 6:15pm / Coronado E (4th Floor)


[Level: Basic] This paper discusses the importance of Look-Ahead Schedules in the Planning & Scheduling process during the construction phase of a project. These are simple yet powerful practices which can be easily integrated into the overall project controls effort. This integration is not just theoretical and was used in this case study to demonstrate its effectiveness. This method is easily adapted to leverage information from the Look-Ahead Schedule and feeds that information into different project controls functions like tracking progress, tracking impacts or slippages, logic revisions, and schedule updates. The results of this case study reveal several benefits of this method including improved accuracy of construction schedules, feedback to schedule planners, and timely identification of any potential issues.

(PS-2924) Evaluating Current Construction Scheduling Tools

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Cynthia Moore; Raquel Shohet Floyd, PSP; Andrea Taylor
Time/Location: Monday, June 25 from 11:30am to 12:30pm / Coronado E (4th Floor)


[Level: Basic] Contractors and owners invest a great deal of resources when choosing a scheduling software, making it important to choose the software that meets all their necessary criteria.  With a focus on typical construction needs, this paper shares the pros and cons of construction Critical Path Method (CPM) scheduling software for users, including owners and contractors alike.  Some of the important factors considered here are licensing cost, mobile platform, the ability to interface with Building Information Modeling (BIM), the update process, handling of baselines, and the ability to import and export to other software. Software evaluated and compared was Oracle Primavera Professional Project Manager P6, Asta Power Project, Phoenix Project Manager, and Microsoft Project.  All of these programs are capable of efficiently scheduling a construction project, but each have distinct capabilities that set them apart from the rest.

(PS-2949) Pull Planning and CPM Scheduling: Counterparts Not Competitors

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Satinder SIngh Baweja, CCP; Lori Vidak
Sunday, June 24 from 2:15pm to 3:15pm / Coronado D (4th Floor)


[Level: Intermediate] Over twenty years ago when Lean Construction methods introduced Pull Planning or the Last Planner system, general contractors in commercial construction considered it the silver bullet to solve all their schedule issues. That did not come to pass. Why?

Pull planning was intended to be a better means of project planning and the utilization of the CPM schedule. However, CPM scheduling was thrown out by those who had not given the method due diligence or appreciation and was replaced by pull planning. Thus, a key tool of project navigation was lost.

There exists a need for both operating together on a construction project so that the master schedule reflects the efforts of the pull planning, and progress is more easily identified then communicated to all stakeholders. Such comprehensive collaboration requires discipline, effort and consistency for the desired results, the lack of which inspired the innovation of Lean Construction.

This paper outlines the roles of the Master Schedule, as developed using the critical path method, vs the roles of pull planning. It articulates the confluence of the two efforts and the need of both in unison.

(PS-2950) Author vs Typist: A Reflection on the Role of the Scheduler in Commercial Construction

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Satinder SIngh Baweja, CCP; Lori Vidak
Time/Location: Sunday, June 24 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm / Coronado E (4th Floor)


[Level: Basic] In this paper, the analogy of the role of the author compared to that of the typist is used to bring to light the diminished role of the construction scheduler, as it has often become, compared to what the role of an experienced professional scheduler truly is. The full scope of this role will be emphasized.

Many challenges have been caused by this diminished role, so how did it get whittled down into little more than a data entry technician? A few examples of how the responsibilities of the professional scheduler are parceled out to other busy members of the project team will shed light on this answer.

Finally, leveraging the full extent of the role of a commercial construction scheduler will be shown to alleviate the confusion and resolve most challenges before they seriously compromise the project’s scheduled completion.

(PS-2953) Extracting the Resource-Constrained Critical/Longest Path from a Resource-Leveled Schedule, Part II

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Paul T. Reeser
Time/Location: Monday, June 25 from 2:15pm to 3:15pm / Coronado E (4th Floor)


[Level: Basic] This practical applications paper demonstrates a method to properly calculate total float, free float, float paths, and find the longest and critical paths for resource leveled schedules. Resource leveling can be a powerful tool, however, two issues have prevented it from gaining widespread acceptance: 1) Total float calculations are almost always incorrect in all of the major scheduling programs, and 2) Float paths, including the longest and critical paths, are not calculated correctly for the activities that have been delayed due to leveling.

The author has developed a simple tool in Microsoft Excel that infers a sequence of activities for a given leveled resource as finish-to-start links between activities. Furthermore, the tool can be used to load those inferred finish-to-start relationships into a similar but different “reporting” project schedule. Because the sequenced activities are now linked by relationships, the software can correctly calculate all of the float parameters. This allows standard reviews of the schedule to take place, without requiring special consideration of the leveling technique. The original project schedule is kept without the new links, so that resource leveling can be used again. The tool has been used on actual projects which used Primavera P6, and is simple enough to be retrofitted for other software programs such as MS Project.

(PS-2956) The Behavior of Resource Critical Schedules

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Brandon Atkins, PE
Time/Location: Sunday, June 24 from 5:15pm to 6:15pm / Coronado D (4th Floor)


[Level: Basic] Resource-critical schedules are defined by the inclusion of resource-driven, preferential logic in the critical path.  Such a schedule with many preferential logic ties will also have many mitigating re-sequence alternatives within the critical path.  If delaying an activity on the critical path has no impact on the completion of the project, is that activity truly critical? The resources driving those critical relationships determine the longest path rather than the activities themselves.   Do the concepts of critical path and float apply to such a schedule?

No project has infinite resources and therefore most real schedules will include at least some resource-driven logic. This paper seeks to describe what is meant by resource-critical and characterize the behavior of resource-critical schedules particularly when subjected to delays or disruption. Understanding resource-critical schedules is of particular importance to specialty contractors where resources tend to be more limited and the logic tends to be driven by resource availability.

(PS-2961) Evaluating Project Performance Using Baseline Schedules

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Dr. Nour El Imane Bouhou; Antoine Bechaalani; Kelly Pettersen; Dr. Marcelo Azambuja
Time/Location: Sunday, June 24 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm / Coronado D (4th Floor)


[Level: Advanced] Most construction companies use deterministic planning models and historical data to develop a baseline schedule. However, deterministic methods do not usually capture real project conditions and might affect project performance. Construction projects are impacted by flawed baseline schedules that produce an unreasonable forecasted completion date. Accordingly, the development of a reasonable baseline schedule is a challenge for construction professionals. The purpose of this paper is to identify and evaluate a variety of project schedule indicators to determine whether a correlation exists between project performance and the project baseline schedule. Based on actual data from more than 40 projects, over 15 schedule indicators were evaluated including, but not limited to, unique activity ID and names, percentage of missing logic relationships, percentage of high activity duration, excessive use of constraints, and percentage of lags and leads. This paper also discusses a project predictive tool that forecasts the probability of a project to experience a schedule delay based on its baseline schedule mechanics. Ultimately, this paper provides guidance that can aid schedulers in developing reasonable baseline schedules and focus on critical indicators to anticipate project performance.

(PS-2975) A Practical Guide to Successful Program Scheduling

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Christopher W. Carson, CEP DRMP PSP FAACE; Vishu Divvela; Gino Napuri, EVP
Time/Location: Tuesday, June 26 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm / Coronado D (4th Floor)


[Level: Intermediate] While practitioners recognize that there is a difference between program and project scheduling, all too often, program scheduling is treated the same as a large project.  Multi-prime projects are much closer to programs when it comes to the scheduling needs and usage.  A fully integrated program schedule, encompassing all projects’ scope, schedules, updated, and analyzed as a single schedule, is an extremely valuable and effective tool, but done poorly, will allow serious negative ramifications.  

Claims avoidance is one of the primary drivers in the need to coordinate and manage the program, at least partially due contract limitations between each contractor and the owner.  If one contractor is impacted by another contractor, the delayed contractor only has recourse against the owner, so coordination of projects can help the program succeed, or it can result in huge cost and time overruns.  This effort also enables allocation of shared locations such as lay-down areas, parking, and overlapping construction zones so appropriate language can be included in contracts.  Large programs often have large failure rates due to the inability to coordinate and control these risks. This paper demonstrates a practical approach to successful program scheduling.

The authors, working for an ENR Top 50 Program Management Firm ranked at #16 in June 2017, have experience in large program scheduling, with multiple prime contractors, and have developed a workable and efficient method of handling the program, following the AACE TCM Framework and recommended practices.  This paper will provide detailed guidelines for setting up the project controls process, developing the program schedule, analyzing the integrated program schedule, identifying and mitigating performance risks in conjunction with the BIM models, and reporting to the program management team.  This lessons-learned approach from a variety of successful industry programs enables efficient development and use of an integrated program schedule to meet the owner’s needs and goals.

(PS-3001) (Panel Discussion) The Scheduling Truth or Lie Game: Fellows Edition

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Christopher W. Carson, CEP DRMP PSP FAACE; Ronald M. Winter, PSP FAACE
Time/Location: Tuesday, June 26 from 11:30am to 12:30pm / Coronado D (4th Floor)


[Level: Basic] What do you get when you assemble a panel of truth-challenged AACE Fellows who try to fool the audience with ‘old war’ scheduling stories?  You may think you’ve seen it all, but this group has lived it all!  One group of Fellows defends the practice and the second Fellows group derides it and then YOU decide.  Why, you get “The Scheduling Truth or Lie Game: Fellows Edition!

One by one, each Fellow storyteller provides two actual, short schedule or claims situations that seem unbelievable.  Some are true and some are false.  One at a time, the other Fellows defend or criticize the practice.  After each of the short debates, the audience votes on Truth or Lie.

There will be plenty of chances for audience participation and a lot of unplanned high jinks. Master of Ceremonies Chris Carson is always ready to stump everyone and will not let the truth get in his way.

(PS-3006) Reporting on Out-of-Sequence Progress

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Ronald M. Winter, PSP FAACE
Time/Location: Wednesday, June 27 from 8:00am to 9:00am / Coronado D (4th Floor)


[Level: Intermediate] Understanding CPM theory can be achieved through classroom-based education.  Understanding CPM practice involves a specialized type of knowledge that only experts have mastered.  This is especially true when examining the complexities of out-of-sequence progress and its ramifications to the construction schedule.  It frequently points to disruptions in the work but it can also hide such.  This paper examines various categories of out-of-sequence progress, each with a different cause.

Various CPM software platforms identity out-of-sequence progress differently, erratically, or sometimes not at all.  Some platforms have various settings which can change how this occurrence affects the critical path network.  Understanding the nature of out-of-sequence progress and the limitations of the software is essential in order to use a CPM schedule effectively to identify, quantify, and monitor the actual rate of progress on a project.

(PS-3007) Analyzing Out-of-Sequence Progress

Author(s)/Presenter(s): Ronald M. Winter, PSP FAACE
Time/Location: Wednesday, June 27 from 9:15am to 10:15am / Coronado D (4th Floor)


[Level: Intermediate] Identifying CPM activities occurring out of logical sequence is important.  Being able to analyze such out-of-sequence events is critical to understanding and evaluating delays and disruptions.  Properly describing and displaying this analysis to others is imperative for communicating and winning delay or disruption arguments.

This paper begins a long-needed dialogue on analyzing out-of-sequence events in CPM schedules.  There are a number of statistical and graphical methods that can be employed to better understand and quantify disruption and confusion on the construction jobsite, as documented in the CPM schedule.

Events and Education