Was ‘Pandemic’ allowed for in your Programme
25th March 2020
The current situation caused by Covid-19 is unprecedented and the impact on projects has not yet been fully realised, but not many projects will have had ‘pandemic’ built into their Risk Register and allowed for in their programme. In the first of a series of notes Simon Martin, of K2 Consultancy’s Technical Services team, explores the programme challenges which are likely to be caused by the Coronavirus and one of the tools for identifying solutions to those challenges.
Construction sites are closing and the remainder can’t continue as normal for too much longer. We face a lengthy shut down across the industry for who knows how long and the impact will be significant. The recovery, when it comes, will reveal a range of programme risks. The answer lies in Schedule Risk Analysis.
Normally risks to projects should be identified and managed as part and parcel of good project management practice. However despite the existence of a project’s Risk Register, in our experience schedules (or ‘programmes’) are inevitably developed without any regard as to how risks, or uncertainty, might impact a project. Furthermore, people often expect a schedule of a few hundred or a few thousand to precisely replicate what is going to happen on site and accurately predict the completion date!
Deterministic v Probabilistic Scheduling
Normally, schedules are deterministic in nature. This means each activity is given a fixed duration, the activity network is constructed with logic between activities, and the software calculates start and finish dates and the critical path.
Probabilistic schedules are constructed in a similar way with an activity network of the same activities, but each activity is given a range of possible durations (usually a 3-point estimate), from the most optimistic (minimum) through to the worst case scenario (maximum). Specific risks can be assigned to activities that they might impact along with the probability of occurrence and again a range of impact durations. This network is modelled using a statistical tool (usually Monte-Carlo analysis, which typically runs the model thousands of times) and produces a statistical distribution of possible outcomes rather than a single overall duration and completion date as with the deterministic method.
It should also be noted that the Risk Mitigation actions should also be included in the schedule, as they need to be carried out and will have a time, resource and cost associated with them too.
There are several benefits provided by Schedule Risk Analysis, including:
- Defining the probability of success. The output provides the probability, or confidence level, of the project completing by a certain date. It is very often found that the likelihood of achieving the probabilistic schedule completion date is very low!
- Identifying priority risks. The model can highlight which risks have the greatest impact on the completion date of the project, allowing further targeted mitigation or re-programming to be considered.
- Providing confidence to clients. On complex, large or costly projects, using schedule risk analysis gives reassurance that the completion date is realistic.
Schedule Risk Analysis provides many potential benefits to projects, although they do require a high quality schedule and mature Risk Register in order to provide beneficial outputs. Please do contact us here at K2 Consultancy to explore how we can help provide more certainty to the outcome of your project or to discuss any other scheduling or programming issues. Now may be the right time to review your existing schedules, to ensure you are best placed to deal with the current situation, perhaps by making sure you are ready to deal contractually with any delays caused by enforced site shutdowns or by reprogramming to mitigate any delays.
Simon Martin is an Associate Director with K2 Consultancy, heading up the Technical Services Team. He has over 15 years’ experience of planning all phases of large and technically challenging projects across numerous industry sectors, including aviation, defence, engineering and mining. Simon is experienced in Schedule Risk Analysis, Earned Value Management and Delay Analysis.