TMS specializes in developing schedules using Microsoft Project. Our schedulers are trained to follow best practices as described in the NDIA Planning and Scheduling Excellence Guide (PASEG) and the GAO Schedule Assessment Guide. While both of these are oriented toward US federal programs, the schedule discipline they embody has proven useful for a wide variety of civilian, state, and local level projects.
TMS works with our clients to ensure we use the right level of process discipline to meet the goals of the project. The sections below show some of the main scheduling knowledge areas our team supports:
Schedule Architecture means determining the primary means of dividing tasks into meaningful subdivision of work. At it’s core this is about describing the work in terms of product or phasing. The event based plan is typically based on an Integrated Master Plan (IMP), which tracks the intermediate events that must occur prior to the realization of a major milestone. On the other hand, a product-based Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) describes work in terms of what it takes to build each component of a system, regardless of “when” that component can or should be built during project execution.
Thankfully, you do not need to choose! TMS makes extensive use of Project Outline Codes to allow for multiple views into the planned and actual status of work being performed. This single capability may be the most underutilized (by others) feature in MS Project, and we love seeing client’s reaction when showing them how easy it is to view their projects from different perspectives.
This is what people think of when they think of scheduling. Task naming conventions, duration estimating, network logic, leads and lags, constraints, milestones; this is the nuts and bolts of scheduling. A schedule model is useful if it does three things:
Describes what needs to be done before the next thing can be done
Provides a realistic timeline for accomplishing each task within the model
Shows which resources are needed when
Too often, teams tend to “back in” to a predetermined date. A good schedule model helps to surface a realistic idea of when project milestones can be accomplished, and helps set stakeholder expectations. Bottom line: the schedule provides the data a Project Manager needs to negotiate with whoever is providing the money.
Cost integration is tricky, because costs are handled outside of the scheduling tool, and are regulated far more strictly (and with more oversight) than the schedule model requires. TMS, with our deep EVMS background, are experts in aligning accounting and purchasing systems with the schedule governance model to make sure you are able to track both cost and schedule progress against your project plan.
External Schedule Integration
Very often a given project schedule is dependent on one or more external events. TMS are experts in using the Master/Sub project schedule model within Microsoft Project to model integration points between different schedule models.
Schedule Maintenance refers to both schedule status updates and managing changes to the project baseline. The simple act of statusing the schedule tends to be one of the most valuable team dynamics when executing a project; let TMS show your team how the easiest things often bring the most value.
TMS focuses clients on schedule health and schedule risk analysis. Schedule Health refers to the blocking and tackling of scheduling; is the network built correctly, and is the quality of the overall model sufficient to support decision making? Schedule Risk Analysis takes things to a new level, using Monte Carlo simulations to determine the probability of achieving a targeted date.
Training and Staff Augmentation
The reason that TMS was founded was to address the shortage of properly trained planning and scheduling professionals in industry today. We are constantly working with new trainees to build up their skills, mentoring clients, and providing world class expert support when needed. Training a new scheduler is not much different from training a software developer, or for that matter a carpenter, electrician, plumber, or bricklayer. The basics of the job are simple, but require practice to master. A big part of what we do involves training new schedulers, getting them on-the-job experience, and if there is a good fit allowing clients to hire them full time into their organizations. Our executive team has been in this industry for decades, and we believe that the more competent planners we can help position with clients the better things will be for everyone.
Other clients may never need full time support, and TMS is able and willing to provide as-needed support where desired. Let’s talk to see what makes sense for you.