The word is that Top Industry Execs Believe the Market Has Turned a Corner [23MAR11,]. This may be the time to talk up one of the “minor” features of the RDM variant of Critical Path Method scheduling, namely “Just-in-Time Start, Finish and Float.”  

RDM was developed in 2004 and elements (including Just-in-Time Start and Finish) were incorporated into Primavera’s Pertmaster software (now relabeled as Oracle Primavera’s Risk Analysis) in 2008. The Just-in-Time concept allows the user to specify a “hand-off” from a vendor or subcontractor as having a must-finish deadline to support the early-start schedule of the successor activity to such restraint.

Thus, all activities preceding this specified logic restraint have calculated not only an early start and finish, and late start and finish, but also a just-in-time start and finish to support the early start of the activity following this restraint. 

From the viewpoint of the prime contractor, the Just-in-Time feature of RDM facilitates a means to draft, monitor and enforce subcontract provisions that require a subcontractor to support the schedule of the prime contractor. The late start/finish dates of the subcontractor’s CPM only note the latest dates before endangering the project to be late; but the Just-in-Time start/finish will note the latest dates before disrupting the prime contractor’s progress on non-critical work.

And for a project with limited laydown area, the Just-in-Time dates provide a dynamic delivery target for vendors, sensitive to the most recent update of the project schedule (which we at EnProMaC suggest should be weekly, even if the spec allows monthly updates).  

From the viewpoint of the subcontractor, the use of Just-in-Time dates support greater control over its destiny. By specifying exactly how much float may be reserved by the prime contractor, that being the float of the supported activity after the specified logic restraint from its activities, such also clearly establishes how much float is now reserved for the subcontractor. And this number is dynamic; if the prime’s schedule should slip for the supported activity, then the sub is immediately notified that it has more float and need not rush to no avail. 

An arbitration I was involved with some years ago illustrates this situation. The subcontractor was late in building a bridge, but the prime contractor was also late (or even later) in providing the approach roads to the bridge. The prime, strictly within contractual rights, demanded the sub to tent, heat, and pour the bridge deck in the dead of winter, when there was more than sufficient time to delay until spring and still be early to match the prime’s target of May for completion of the approaches. The arbitrator seeing no benefit to the prime’s demands (other than to punish the sub who had beaten the prime’s bid on another unrelated project), awarded all costs of the sub for “constructive acceleration.” An equitable if not strictly legal result.  

As noted, features of RDM were incorporated into Pertmaster in 2008, and were slated to be ported to P6, but such has been deferred by the acquisition by Oracle and subsequent development leading to Release 8 and other improvements. With R8 now under its belt, this may be the time for Oracle to consider porting RDM to P6. Of course, as with any software or product developer, Oracle looks to customer requests when prioritizing adding new features.  

At least three other software developers have shown interest in adding RDM functionality to their products, including presumably to include this feature. While the many other benefits of RDM and becoming RDCPM® Compliance Certified (including better modeling of the project, better reviews of CPM logic, better manual and automated leveling, crashing, re-baselining and even better subcontract control) are higher on my list (as a professional planner/scheduler), the Just-in-Time feature may be the one that attracts greater upper management attraction and demand. 

Let me – and your CPM software provider – know your thoughts on RDM Just-in-Time functionality.