This is a follow up post to: “How Fletcher Construction uses Primavera P6 scheduling data to develop critical weekly planning tools”.
The previous post reviewed how to leverage data from Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management (EPPM) to create valuable customized weekly planning tools for project and site managers. The main concerns on every project are the same: cost, schedule, quality, and safety—every time.
Fletcher Construction’s planning team, led by Divisional Planning Manager Annamalai Alagappan, is making a difference in these four critical areas by focusing on planning and scheduling.
More specifically, Alagappan’s team is creating a positive impact by leveraging intelligent planning and scheduling methods and capabilities. Like the saying goes, time is money. Adequate time and timely information also improve safety and quality.
Alagappan uses capabilities in Primavera P6 EPPM to unite the four pillars of scheduling: work breakdown structure (WBS), organization breakdown structure (OBS), cost breakdown structure (CBS), and Alagappan’s magic bullet, model breakdown structure (MBS). These four pillars provide clear, comprehensive, and relevant information to Fletcher’s project and site managers.
Leveraging this data helps project teams to make better decisions, dramatically improve change management, and take proactive measures to help ensure project success. “We bring together the what, who, and how in one clear view. Seeing the total impact of a proposed change is very powerful,” says Alagappan.
For example, if Fletcher is asked to add a floor to a building, the planner can isolate that aspect of scope and its impact on the schedule. Planners work with the quantity surveyors and commercial managers to understand the scope and time impacts before developing a new budget based on the cost impact.
This process sparks effective change management by providing the relevant information to the project director, who collaborates with the owner to determine whether they want to make the change or not.
Using centralized, cloud-based systems also provides a clear and unchangeable record of project decisions and corresponding communication and documentation. This unalterable record is especially valuable to note staff changes in addition to providing information to the owner during project handover for operations and maintenance.
Not surprisingly, uniting data and people improves relationships. The project culture becomes collaborative, paving the way for future projects.
Alagappan and his team are using model review software in concert with Primavera P6 EPPM to visualize and optimize the value of planning data. The work breakdown structure is exported from Primavera P6 EPPM and imported into their 3D design review solution using the WBS code as the link.
From within the model, Fletcher can assign the WBS codes at any level of the model for additional visibility. Alagappan and his team can designate which level of the model they want to drill into based on who the information is generated for by linking the WBS to the model MBS. The relationship connecting the WBS to the organization breakdown structure has become part of Fletcher’s weekly customized project and site manager conversations.
The integration of the four pillars—work breakdown structure, cost breakdown structure, organization breakdown structure, and model breakdown structure—help the teams communicate using a common language and data structure. Fletcher creates effective change management by integrating time, data, and cost information with the model and providing that comprehensive information to the appropriate manager.
“I strongly believe the integration of WBS, CBS, OBS, and MBS are the building blocks of a common data environment, enabling the future, AI planning,” says Alagappan.
For reporting, the data from Primavera P6 EPPM helps Fletcher to easily customize reporting by persona. This intelligent model and scenario analysis improves the accuracy of bids and provides information to help owners assess the impacts of changes and quickly see the status of plan versus actual progress. “It is so important to select open solutions like Primavera P6 EPPM, which is built to work with other solutions,” says Alagappan.
“By linking the WBS with the MBS, we can create a visualization of plan vs. actual in about two minutes using the construction sequence code as a common data link between the 3D model in Fletcher’s 3D design review solution and the program in Primavera P6 EPPM,” Alagappan says. In the past, developing this level of detailed reporting could have taken five to six hours with a much less useful multi-page reporting format.
Primavera P6 EPPM also lets Fletcher quickly run multiple scenarios visually in the form of short videos. If a client wants multiple concepts to consider, that is easy to provide.
“We can quickly look at multiple ways of building. We can compare variables like crane size, crew allocations, and design options to best meet the project and customers’ needs,” says Alagappan. His team can communicate the meaning of 6,000 lines from the schedule in the format of a two-minute video by incorporating the Primavera P6 EPPM data into their model review software.
Taking advantage of APIs: The company plans to take advantage of preconfigured Primavera APIs to improve and automate integration now that Fletcher has proven the benefits of integration. Fletcher will tie Primavera P6 EPPM directly into the company’s 3D model review software as well as the company’s cost and quality systems.
Expanding the benefits of data management: Fletcher is moving toward a company-wide common data environment (CDE). The company will benefit from cross-project comparisons, resource planning, and analysis by uniting data across projects and disciplines.
Continuing to improve data structures: The organization is learning and iterating to optimize their data structure as they prepare to move toward AI-based planning. “It is important to learn ourselves before we can teach computers,” says Alagappan.
Establishing the work breakdown structure as a non-changeable element is the most important piece of planning. This structure establishes the “spine” for how data is collected and how communications are enabled. How the structure is set up is pivotal to the project’s success.
A well-established scheduling structure is just as important as having the right skill set and mindset on a project. Effectively managing change—and assessing the time and cost impacts associated with the change—is more challenging without a well-established WBS.
The WBS also provides a link from the critical path schedule into the spatial 3D model. Enabling visual communication of the program helps effectively communicate the methodology in short video bursts or customized pictures to the individual project or site manager. This concise and visual presentation is closer to how people are used to digesting information online and through social media.
The combined data supports proactive and informed decisions—along with a consistent, planned, and structured construction process—by thoughtfully setting up and integrating the WBS with the organization, cost, and model breakdown structures.
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