GPM – The Planning Game Changer

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With the introduction of the Graphical Planning Method (GPM), the methods and mindsets of scheduling and planning shifted to a hands-on, planning-dominated process instead of the computer-generated scheduling process used in the Critical Path Method (CPM)

GPM offers what could possibly be the simplest process to coordinate activities, relationships and milestones into a network schedule in the shortest amount of time. Additionally, the method’s graphical tools and techniques allow all stakeholders, regardless of training level, to implement, adjust and development schedules.

GPM Innovations

  • Logic Diagramming Method (LDM)
  • Graphics technology and the visual display of diagramming objects
  • Planning and scheduling on an evolving, time-scaled calendar
  • One-step view for connected and dated activities allows for easy schedule adjustments
  • Resource-limited activity dates and floats are continuously solidified as the schedule evolves
  • Activity floats originate with relationships or logic ties
  • Activity floats can be realistically apportioned by not letting tasks slip beyond assigned milestones
  • Visual plan allows for easy reworking as schedule evolves and develops
  • Elimination of the time gap between planning and schedule reporting

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Advantages of GPM Planning

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The development of the graphical path method (GPM®) created new paradigms for schedulers and planners. These new models allowed planners more flexibility around designing and optimizing networks of activities, especially when compared to the models used in critical path method (CPM) projects. In addition, GPM also helped planners to solve previously intractable resource optimization problems.

When it was first launched in 1957, CPM was the premier tool for schedule optimization. But as the planning and scheduling process evolved over time and adapted to new technologies such as personal computers, the focus of the CPM process shifted from planning to scheduling. Advances in technology have allowed schedules to grow exponentially to contain more than 50,000 activities. These massive schedules are inputted directly into a CPM software tool – all too often without the first critical step of planning the project. While some organizations continue to use full-wall planning, GPM was developed in part to reintroduce planning back into the scheduling process.

Flexible Planning

GPM also introduced users to a more flexible way to schedule. When planning with CPM, schedulers are often handicapped by its total float calculations, which do not allow for flexibility and adjustments between project start and finish dates. Instead of calculating total float as the late date minus the early date,  GPM uses the planned date to calculate float, drift (how many days back can we move without impacting start date) and total float (drift plus float). The GPM algorithm frees the planner from the false framework of early start dates.  Which creates a flexible dynamic modeling tool which more accurately reflects the real world realities of planning and scheduling.

This way, schedulers are able to more easily allocate and adjust resources and shift activities or activity chains as needed throughout the schedule.

GPM’s use of the logical diagramming method (LDM), which combines the best of ADM and PDM, creates a graphically represented network. This allows schedulers to set benchmark or fixed events with zero total float along a schedule. LDM relies on embedded nodes to model PDM logic, and recognizes fixed events or benchmarks, which do not shift from their inputted dates.

The combination of GPM’s planning elements brings flexibility to schedulers and stakeholders, and, simply put, makes the process easier to understand. This is turn helps people to create and execute a successful plan.

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