We at PMA sometimes get a bit myopic about scheduling. If it does not involve permits,  excavation, and foundations, then it must not be a schedule. However, there is a big, bold world of non-construction-related schedules and scheduling applications out there, being used every day. In the past, I’ve worked extensively with production scheduling applications for the job shop environment. I presented a paper on this topic at the PMI Global Congress a couple of years back, entitled Job-Shop Scheduling Can Assist in Improving Manufacturing Budget Control. Should you ever find yourself sleepless and completely out of Ambien, I would highly suggest that you download this paper for immediate relief.

One of the more fascinating subcategories of scheduling can be found in the aerospace and defense industry. When a fighter jet or commercial airliner is built, the outer limits of project management, product management, configuration management, and project controls are tested. Most likely, the issue of quality management is top of the list! An ill-fitting window in a building is a nuisance, but in a plane…?

One of the premier scheduling tools used in the A&D market is Deltek Open Plan. Deltek is an organization that has mastered the art of producing compliant output for working with the federal government. Within their scheduling tool, you can develop some of the most intense schedules in the world, including hundreds of thousands of activities.

However, when a schedule reaches this level of detail, it’s often hard to visualize the key elements driving the plan. This is why we have developed an interface to allow NetPoint® to read from and write to Deltek Open Plan. Within both capacities of Open Plan – project and program management, NetPoint allows instant visualization of important components of the overall schedule.

There are three key components to the value proposition of using NetPoint with Open Plan.

  1.  There is a tremendous increase in efficiency and effectiveness using NetPoint to plan projects in the early phases. Before NetPoint, the best practice was to hold a planning session using sticky notes. The sticky notes would then be transcribed, imperfectly and with great effort, into a scheduling tool. Using NetPoint, the plan is created real time with the participants in the planning session. With a few clicks of the mouse, the plan can be transferred into scheduling software such as Primavera or MS Project. You end up with a better plan, after less effort and expense than before.
  2.  The ability to pursue multiple scenarios for both schedule and resource allocation with very little effort allows decision makers to gain insights.  This just isn’t practical when using other tools.
  3.  Using the schedule as a tool to communicate the project plan to non-schedulers brings the entire team on board, so they can better understand the commitments they have made as well as their impact on project completion – in the event that they do not meet those  commitments.