Some might say, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, those are the same folks who fail to innovate, time and time again. In the case of CPM’s current model, it’s surely broken. Every time a CPM monte carlo is executed the process is as follows:
The user selects a duration from the range for each activity then the model runs the forward and backward pass. This yields a single iteration. It is run as many times as required in order to achieve convergence. Read More
“Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.” – Voltaire
In case you happened across this post before reading the first post in this series, check that one out. This post will be here when you are done.
Now, as Kahneman taught us decades ago, there is bias in the qualitative portion of risk assessments. However, Dr. Gui Ponce de Leon and Dr. Vivek Puri have recently discovered that there is a substantial optimistic bias baked into the supposedly “scientific” portion of a risk analysis.
Up to now, all schedule risk analyses have been performed based on a Critical Path Method (CPM) Schedule. A CPM is calculated in such a way that each and every activity in the model will start on the earliest possible date; that’s just the way CPM works. However, that is not how projects work! I’ve polled hundreds of planners and project managers and have yet to find a single instance where a project completed and each activity started on the earliest possible date. In a real world project, as one part of the project gets behind schedule, other parts of the project float or pace to adjust. A CPM schedule risk analysis is not capable of modeling this real world behavior.
Santosh Bhat at Australasian Project Planning recently got a copy of the beta version of Netpoint 5. Here what he had to say…
For those not familiar with Netpoint or the Graphical Path Method, refer to more information on the Australasian Project Planning website here, or go direct to the source of all Netpoint and GPM information at PMA Technologies.
Back in October 2014, I started a LinkedIn Group for Netpoint users and made a post of enhancement suggestions for Netpoint. Unbeknownst to me, the PMA technologies team were well into making the next major release of Netpoint.
At the Netpoint & GPM Conference in January 2015, the features of Netpoint 5 were presented, and now having had a chance to trial a Beta release of Netpoint 5, I’ve put together the following article reviewing some of the main new features to help those who may be moving from earlier releases – or those who may need just a little nudge to try Netpoint for their organisations or projects.
As can be expected, there are some limitations of this review, Netpoint 5 is still in Beta release, no doubt there will be further modifications before a final release. Also, NetRisk was not a part of this Beta Trial, so some of the enhancements to NetRisk are not reviewed.
Activity Sizes and Patterns
Netpoint 5 now allows setting of sizes and patterns for activities.
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.
- 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
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.
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.
With the advent of personal computers in the mid-1980s, people enthusiastically embraced computer and software-based planning and scheduling practices. At this point, planning and scheduling began to shift away from traditional graphical and planning-centric methods. New, data-driven methods replaced graphical representations with sophisticated software scheduling engines, reversing the long-time credo of scheduling from “Logic rules, dates serve,” to “Dates rule, logic serves.”
In this new mindset, schedulers became more focused on hitting each deadline or milestone, and logic quickly became a secondary thought. Schedules were software-driven and riddled with anomalies that would normally have been adjusted and fixed through traditional graphic planning.
Finally, the shine of the new technology started to wear off. Stakeholders took notice of the changes in scheduling and started to reminisce about days of graphical planning.
The development of the Graphical Planning Method (GPM) and its interactive visual components allowed schedulers and stakeholders to embrace the technological advances (and still move away from sticky-note wall planning) while still incorporating graphical and time-scaled schedule representation. Instead of relying on databases and inline CPM scheduling engines, GPM software applications rely on graphical objects, encapsulating rules and computational algorithms that interact with continuous real-time process flows and an interactive graphics display.