Will Hurricane Sandy lead to a resurgence in time-centric scheduling?


Let me explain what I mean.


In past posts I've mentioned the shift from the 1950s-60s-70s “need for speed” in scheduling a project to the 80s-90s-00s “accountability” and “need for best productivity.” 


The Gantt or bar-chart schedules of the 40s and 50s, developed to speed the turnaround of a chemical process plant (such as at Du Pont) or military R&D project (such as for the Polaris Missile System,) was found to be too slow to react to changing conditions, leading to missed opportunities when progress was better than expected and greater negative impact than need be when things did not go as well as planned.


New mathematical processes, including CPM and PERT, were developed to react quicker – up to 40% quicker than older manual rescheduling methods – and produce better and faster scheduling direction to project leaders.


These new processes were modified as required to permit the rote calculation to be performed by the new tool, the computer. And so CPM was developed for Du Pont and PERT for the Navy. Computers improved and grew more powerful; CPM and PERT software was again modified to best use this new power, and the tool developed to meet the “need for speed” accelerated projects from the fields of construction to our NASA program “to place a man on the moon by the end of the decade.”


Acceleration when one could and quick mitigation of delays when one must were the basis for our Planning and Scheduling industry.


But as we entered the 90s, the industry shifted from a “finish faster” approach to one that stressed improving resource allocation and productivity.
Part of this may have been the taming of inflation of the 70s and threat of cost escalation, and part to consolidation of larger engineering and construction firms hoping to leverage the synergies of their enterprises as more profitable than the relentless pursuit of speed of the original algorithms.
(See our prior blog Oracle's P6 R8 – A Successful Operation, but Let's Make the Software Model How We Want to Do the Work for how the current algorithm of predominant scheduling software is tuned to best productivity rather than best speed).

The devastation caused by Sandy, especially in the NYC region, will once again create a need for scheduling for best speed.


Returning the subways, tunnels, substations and other infrastructure of the Big Apple, as well as industries, businesses and homes along the New Jersey to Maryland coast are projects that all “need to be finished yesterday.” Real (and not make-work “Stimulus”) jobs will be created to fill real needs.


The purpose of the jobs will be to rebuild the infrastructure and civilization compromised by Sandy, and not merely to maintain (WPA style) employment. Our industry may demand – and this time get – the scheduling tools we need, and not be told to use tools designed for the factory floor of a repetitive process.


So I say demand of your scheduling software vendor the original 1956 “interruptible duration” algorithm designed for our “need for speed.” If your spec requires enterprise scheduling for reporting purposes, do so, but also run real “CPM” scheduling to accelerate your project.




The College of Performance Management (having split from PMI Project Management Institute and re-incorporating under their original name) had planned their first re-independent event for October 29-31 in Washington DC. Sandy resulted in this event being cancelled, but the organization, along with its Marriott Hotel host, are working to reschedule for December 10-12 at the same location. Please checkhttp://www.mycpm.org/ for more information.



Your Construction CPM Conference, set for January 27-30 in New Orleans, continues to grow in size as other groups join with us to make this event (sandwiched between 1st Weekend Mardi Gras and Super Bowl Weekend) into a fantastic education and entertainment venue.


Courses from Oracle University in P6, in ASTA, and separate User Meetings of PMA Netpoint, Synchro and Acumen precede the conference, as well as parades that pass our hotel on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We expect over 300 attendees to attend our nearly 100 sessions spread over three full days. More information is athttp://www.constructioncpm.com/.