"When building schedules what dates do you prefer i.e. early or late? Total float computations end up the same. Priority will be early dates but both dates important. Interested in your opinion"
In short, I do not favor building a schedule - I favor building a logic plan, then allowing the computer algorithm to calculate a schedule.
The schedule will then indicate earliest dates activities MAY start/finish and latest dates activities MUST start/finish, leaving further determination of a leveled/smoothed/scheduled start/finish for each activity to the project manager who I (the "scheduler") serve.
If the degree of complexity or limited availability of resources requires pre-launch leveling, I recommend saving the "true" early/late dates to a separate file (or fields) and providing a minimal degree of leveling by explicitly manually adding resource restraints or by automated leveling on stipulated resources only. Manually added resource restraints may be so noted in RDCPM® compliance certified software, such as Oracle Primavera Risk Analysis (PRA or previously known as Pertmaster) or as notes on the pure logic drawings of the scheduler. (Software for recording the additional resource logic generated by leveling routines is still in development.)
If we are looking at using leveling for enterprise purposes, saving the "true" early/late dates and especially the dates for completion and major milestones becomes very important for providing upper management knowledge of the ability to expedite THIS project if such is desired. Beating a competitor to be "first to market" may be deemed more important than obtaining the optimal productivity of every resource. If we are looking at using leveling to boost productivity (such as with Vico Schedule Planner and other specialty software products,) calculation and storage of the pure early/late start/finish dates again will emphasize that forced deviation from the leveled schedule due to CICs, RFIs or other changes may not constitute a delay, but does constitute disruption and additional (and possibly recoverable) cost.
This is my opinion. Readers of this blog may care to agree, disagree, or amplify.
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