Schedule Adherence …a useful measure for project management


By Walt Lipke

Oklahoma, USA

Abstract: Earned Value Management (EVM) is a very good method of project management. However, EVM by itself cannot provide information as to how the schedule is being accomplished. Project accomplishment not in accordance with the planned schedule frequently has adverse repercussions; cost increases and duration is elongated. Thus, managers have a need to more fully understand project performance. This paper utilizes the new practice of Earned Schedule to discuss a proposed measure for further enhancing the practice of EVM. The measure, Schedule Adherence, provides additional early warning information to project managers, thereby enabling improved decision making and enhancing the probability of project success.

Development of a plan for executing a project is a difficult undertaking. When the plan is being created, a work flow is envisioned along with constraints and resource availability. There is a considerable amount of effort invested in decomposing the constituents of the plan into manageable components and work packages. Detailed examination of the tasks themselves is made to prepare reasonable estimates for their cost and duration. Oftentimes, planning teams use historical project records, heuristics and statistical algorithms to determine best and worst case probable outcomes. Furthermore, to assure that the best possible plan is created, technical experts may be employed to make the estimates as accurate as possible.

Before assignments can be made to the team members of a project, the timing of their actions must be known along with their interdependencies. The intricate mechanism for consolidating all of this information and making it understandable to the project team, and senior management, as well, is the schedule. The schedule is an embodiment of our best understanding of how to accomplish the project …a truly important document. Possibly, the schedule is the single most important document pertaining to the project and it likely has more to do with success than any other aspect.

Well then ….if the planned schedule is so crucial to project success, it follows that project managers should do their utmost to ensure project execution conforms to it. Assuming the planned schedule is the most efficient path for executing the project, any deviation leads to inefficiency and very likely other problems ….such as constraint reduced production, idle time, skills mismatch and poor quality output, in turn, requiring rework. Thus, there is an extremely compelling case for following the planned schedule.

This paper presents a proposed method for measuring the conformance, or adherence, for the schedule execution of a project. Utilizing the method and measure, the project manager has a better understanding of how well the execution follows the sequence and precedence of the tasks in the baseline schedule. Having an indicator for “schedule adherence” provides additional early warning information for managers to act upon.


To read entire paper (click here)

Editor’s note:  Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.

About the Author 

Walt-Lipkeflag-usaWalt Lipke 

Oklahoma, USA 

Walt Lipke retired in 2005 as deputy chief of the Software Division at Tinker Air Force Base in the United States. He has over 35 years of experience in the development, maintenance, and management of software for automated testing of avionics. During his tenure, the division achieved several software process improvement milestones, including the coveted SEI/IEEE award for Software Process Achievement. Mr. Lipke has published several articles and presented at conferences, internationally, on the benefits of software process improvement and the application of earned value management and statistical methods to software projects. He is the creator of the technique Earned Schedule, which extracts schedule information from earned value data. Mr. Lipke is a graduate of the USA DoD course for Program Managers. He is a professional engineer with a master’s degree in physics, and is a member of the physics honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma (SPS). Lipke achieved distinguished academic honors with the selection to Phi Kappa Phi (FKF). During 2007 Mr. Lipke received the PMI Metrics Specific Interest Group Scholar Award. Also in 2007, he received the PMI Eric Jenett Award for Project Management Excellence for his leadership role and contribution to project management resulting from his creation of the Earned Schedule method. Mr. Lipke was selected for the 2010 Who’s Who in the World.  He can be contacted at [email protected].