Getting Bogged Down in the Detail!

Getting Bogged Down in the Detail!

Getting the level of detail right in a programme is critical.

Not enough and you don’t have the necessary information to plan the works.

Too much and they simply don’t get read. I will give you an example.

Earlier in the year I was brought in to help a contractor. Their programme was 18 pages when printed on A3. Nothing out of the ordinary there, some programmes for complex projects are massive. Now the thing that struck me was that there were only 6 pages relevant to the physical works on site. The programme was 2/3 paperwork!

Even in these 6 pages of delivery works there were some long duration activities and some 15 minute activities. The level of detail just wasn’t consistent or usable.

Guess what was happening – the project team weren’t using the programme to plan the works because it wasn’t usable.

On the other hand I’ve seen Project Managers use planning software to produce programmes that don’t have dates or durations visible. They have big long bars that don’t break the works down into enough detail to plan the works efficiently and that’s exactly what happened. Programme overrun almost every update, programme being left unmonitored and no end of problems.

If a programme cant be read and understood then its only place is in the bin. Simple.

Many will add generic activities into a programme by copying and pasting from similar schemes. Fluff isn’t useful to anyone. Enough with the thousands of meaningless activities, they serve no purpose at all…

I’ve even recently seen someone selling programme templates for certain types of projects! This could lead to all kinds of problems. No two projects are alike, even if scope was the same the site conditions and contract alone would be different. Now these might be useful as a prompt for an inexperienced planner but should never be used as the actual programme.

Gantt charts tend to become useless pieces of wallpaper pinned up in the office. Rarely seen on site or in the hands of a supervisor actually delivering works.
Targeting the level of detail and the presentation method for the information is so important and is fundamental to peoples understanding of the plan. If the site management and workforce don’t understand the plan how on earth can anyone expect it to be delivered!

Presenting the plan using a different method will catch interest. When people are interested they take note and it sticks with them. There are plenty of other ways to show the same information, mark up plans, 3d visualisations etc can all be used to show the same information in a better way.

The level of detail needs to be in relation to the goal of the programme. A weekly programme should contain activities between 1 and 5 days in duration. This allows them to be monitored with a better degree of accuracy. To achieve this activities will need to be broken down into smaller areas than on the monthly programme.
Generally a monthly programme should contain activities of up to 44 days (In line with CIOB and US DCMA standards) however there may well be exceptions but typically most activities should be less than 30 days in my experience. Short duration activities should also be avoided if possible and typically a minimum duration of 3-5 days should be used to prevent excess short term activities on a higher level programme. Of course there may be exceptions but this is a rule of thumb to follow.

Here’s where we can help. We target the programme detail at the right level, use supporting documents for other activities which support the programme and use varied method including simple animations to help people understand the plan.

And guess what, it works.

Project Managers and Planners also get tunnel vision when looking at the same information for too long. If you want an independent assessment of a programme or you need help with your programme management then we can help. Give us a call.

Planetal provides Tendering, Delivery Planning and Forensic Delay Expert Services to the construction industry. For more information on how we can help click one of the links below:


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