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Detailed Schedules and Charts

Guidelines for Preparation of Schedules

Preparation Sequence of Schedules

Master Production Scheduling

Definition of Master Production Schedule (MPS)

Objectives of Master Production Schedule (MPS)

Program Plan

24.1 Detailed Schedules and Charts:

The first major requirement of the program office after the program goes ahead is the

scheduling of activities.

If the activity is not too complex, the program office normally assumes full responsibility for

activity scheduling. For large programs, functional management input is required before

scheduling can be completed.

Depending on program size and contractual requirements, it is not unusual for the program

office to maintain, at all times, a program staff member whose responsibility is that of a

scheduler. This individual continuously develops and updates activity schedules to provide a

means of tracking program work. The resulting information is then supplied to the program

office personnel, functional management, and team members, and, last but not least, is

presented to the customer.

Note that the activity scheduling is probably the single most important tool for determining how

company resources should be integrated so that synergy is produced. Activity schedules are

invaluable for projecting time-phased resource utilization requirements as well as providing a

basis for visually tracking performance.

In many cases, most programs begin with the development of schedules so that accurate cost

estimates can be made. The schedules serve as master plans from which both the customer and

management have an up-to-date picture of operations.

24.2 Guidelines for Preparation of Schedules:

Regardless of the projected use or complexity, certain guidelines should be followed in the

preparation of schedules. These are as follows:

Firstly, all major events and dates must be clearly identified. If the customer supplies a

statement of work, those dates shown on the accompanying schedules must be included. If

for any reason the customer's milestone dates cannot be met, the customer should be

notified immediately.

The exact sequence of work should be defined through a network in which

interrelationships between events can be identified.

Schedules should be directly relatable to the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). If the

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is developed according to a specific sequence of work,

then it becomes an easy task to identify work sequences in schedules using the same


numbering system as in the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The minimum requirement

should be to show where and when all tasks start and finish.

All schedules must identify the time constraints and, if possible, should identify those

resources required for each event.

Here we see that although these four guidelines relate to schedule preparation, they do not

define how complex the schedules should be. Before preparing schedules, three questions

should be considered:

  • How many events or activities should each network have?
  • How much of a detailed technical breakdown should be included?
  • Who is the intended audience for this schedule?

In this regard, most organizations develop multiple schedules: summary schedules for management

and planners and detailed schedules for the doers and lower-level control. The detailed schedules

may be strictly for interdepartmental activities. Program management must approve all schedules

down through the first three levels of the work breakdown structure. For lower-level schedules (that

is, detailed interdepartmental), program management may or may not request a sign of approval.

The need for two schedules is clear. In larger complicated projects, planning and status review

by different echelons are facilitated by the use of detailed and summary networks. Higher levels

of management can view the entire project and the interrelationships of major tasks without

looking into the detail of the individual subtasks. Lower levels of management and supervision

can examine their parts of the project in fine detail without being distracted by those parts of the

project with which they have no interface.

One of the most difficult problems to identify in schedules is a hedge position. A hedge position

is a situation in which the contractor may not be able to meet a customer's milestone date

without incurring a risk, or may not be able to meet activity requirements following a milestone

date because of contractual requirements.

24.3 Preparation Sequence of Schedules:

For almost every activity detailed schedules are prepared. It is the responsibility of the program

office to marry all of the detailed schedules into one master schedule to verify that all activities

can be completed as planned.

According to the sequence, the program office submits a request for detailed schedules to the

functional managers then prepare summary schedules, detailed schedules, and, if time permits,

interdepartmental schedules. Each functional manager then reviews his schedules with the

program office. The program office, together with the functional program team members,

integrates all of the plans and schedules and verifies that all contractual dates can be met.

Note that before the schedules are submitted to publications, rough drafts of each schedule and

plan should be reviewed with the customer. This procedure accomplishes the following:

  • Verifies that nothing has fallen through the cracks
  • Prevents immediate revisions to a published document and can prevent embarrassing moments
  • Minimizes production costs by reducing the number of early revisions
  • Shows customers early in the program that you welcome their help and input into the planning phase

Once the document is published, it should be distributed to all program office personnel,

functional team members, functional management, and the customer.

The exact method of preparing the schedules is usually up to the individual performing the


However, the program office must approve all schedules. The schedules are normally prepared

in a format that is suitable to both the customer and contractor and is easily understood by all.

The schedules may then be used in-house as well as for customer review meetings, in which

case the contractor can "kill two birds with one stone" by tracking cost and performance on the

original schedules.

In addition to the detailed schedules, the program office, with input provided by functional

management, must develop organization charts. The organizational charts tell all active

participants in the project who has responsibility for each activity. The organizational charts

display the formal (and often the informal) lines of communication.

Linear responsibility charts (LRCs) are also established by the program office. In spite of the

best attempts by management, many functions in an organization may overlap between

functional units.

The management might also wish to have the responsibility for a certain activity given to a

functional unit that normally would not have that responsibility. This is a common occurrence

on short duration programs where management desires to cut costs and red tape.

Importantly, care must be taken that project personnel do not forget the reason why the schedule

was developed.

Summing this up, the primary objective of detailed schedules is usually to coordinate activities

into a master plan in order to complete the project with the:

  • Best time
  • Least cost
  • Least risk

The objective can be constrained by the following obvious reasons:

  • Calendar completion dates
  • Cash or cash flow restrictions
  • Limited resources
  • Approvals

In addition to this, there are also secondary objectives of scheduling:

  • Studying alternatives
  • Developing an optimal schedule
  • Using resources effectively
  • Communicating
  • Refining the estimating criteria
  • Obtaining good project control
  • Providing for easy revisions

24.4 Master Production Scheduling:

We know that master production scheduling is not a new concept. Earliest material control

systems used a "quarterly ordering system" to produce a Master Production Schedule (MPS) for

plant production.

This system uses customer order backlogs to develop a production plan over a three-month

period. The production plan is then exploded manually to determine what parts must be

purchased or manufactured at the proper time. However, rapidly changing customer

requirements and fluctuating lead times, combined with a slow response to these changes, can

result in the disruption of master production scheduling.

24.5 Master Production Schedule (MPS) Definition:

Before going into the details, it is important to know what a Master Production Schedule (MPS)

is. A Master Production Schedule (MPS) is a statement of what will be made, how many units

will be made, and when they will be made. It is a production plan, not a sales plan. The Master

Production Schedule (MPS) considers the total demand on a plant's resources, including

finished product sales, spare (repair) part needs, and interplant needs. The Master Production

Schedule (MPS) must also consider the capacity of the plant and the requirements imposed on

vendors. Provisions are made in the overall plan for each manufacturing facility's operation. All

planning for materials, manpower, plant, equipment, and financing for the facility is driven by

the master production schedule.

24.6 Objectives of the Master Production Schedule (MPS):

Following are the objectives of Master Production Schedule (MPS):
  • To provide top management with a means to authorize and control manpower levels, inventory investment, and cash flow.
  • To coordinate marketing, manufacturing, engineering, and finance activities by a common performance objective.
  • To reconcile marketing and manufacturing needs
  • To provide an overall measure of performance
  • To provide data for material and capacity planning

Therefore, the development of a Master Production Schedule (MPS) is a very important step in a

planning cycle. It directly ties together personnel, materials, equipment, and facilities as shown in

the figure above. Master Production Schedule (MPS) also identify key dates to the customer, should

he wish to visit the contractor during specific operational periods.

24.7 Program Plan:

Documented planning in the form of a program plan is fundamental to the success of any

project. In an ideal situation, the program office can present the functional manager with a copy

of the program plan and simply say, "accomplish it." The concept of the program plan cam

under severe scrutiny during the 1960s when the Department of Defense required all contractors

to submit detailed planning to such extremes that many organizations were wasting talented

people by having them serve as writers instead of doers. Since then, because of the complexity

of large programs, requirements imposed on the program plan have been eased.

In case of large and often complex programs, customers may require a program plan that

documents all activities within the program. The program plan then serves as a guideline for the

lifetime of the program and may be revised as often development programs require more

revisions to the program plan than manufacturing or construction programs). The program plan

provides the following framework:

  • Eliminates conflicts between functional managers
  • Eliminates conflicts between functional management and program management
  • Provides a standard communications tool throughout the lifetime of the program. (It should be geared to the work breakdown structure.)
  • Provides verification that the contractor understands the customer's objectives and requirements
  • Provides a means for identifying inconsistencies in the planning phase
  • Provides a means for early identification of problem areas and risks so that no surprises occur downstream

Note that the development of a program plan can be time-consuming and costly. The input

requirements for the program plan depend on the size of the project and the integration of

resources and activities. All levels of the organization participate. The upper levels provide

summary information, and the lower levels provide the details. The program plan, like activity

schedules, does not preclude departments from developing their own planning.

One of the key features of the program plan is that it must identify how the company resources

will be integrated. Finalization of the program is an iterative process similar to the sequence of

events for schedule preparation, shown in the figure 24.2 below. Since the program plan must

explain the events in the figure, additional iterations are required, which can cause changes in a


Preparation Sequence for Schedules and Program Plans

Thus, we say that the program plan is a standard from which performance can be measured, not

only by the customer, but also by program and functional management as well. The plan serves

as a cookbook for the duration of the program by answering the following questions for all

personnel identified with the program:

  • What will be accomplished?
  • How will it be accomplished?
  • Where will it be accomplished?
  • When will it be accomplished?
  • Why will it be accomplished?

The answers to these questions force both the contractor and the customer to take a hard look at:

  • Program requirements
  • Program management
  • Program schedules
  • Facility requirements
  • Logistic support
  • Financial support
  • Manpower and organization

Iterations for the Planning Process

In addition to this, the program plan is more than just a set of instructions. It is an attempt to

eliminate crisis by preventing anything from ''falling through the cracks." The plan is

documented and approved by both the customer and the contractor to determine what data, if


any, are missing and the probable resulting effect. As the program matures, the program plan is

revised to account for new or missing data. The most common reasons for revising a plan are:

  • "Crashing" activities to meet end dates
  • Trade-off decisions involving manpower, scheduling, and performance
  • Adjusting and leveling manpower requests

Usually the maturity of a program implies that crisis will decrease. Unfortunately, this is not always

the case.

The makeup of the program plan may vary from contractor to contractor. Most program plans

can be subdivided into four main sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Summary and conclusions
  3. Management
  4. Technical

The complexity of the information is usually up to the discretion of the contractor, provided that

customer requirements, as may be specified in the statement of work, are satisfied.

To begin with, the introductory section contains the definition of the program and the major

parts involved. If the program follows another, or is an outgrowth of similar activities, this is

indicated, together with a brief summary of the background and history behind the project.

The second section that is the summary and conclusion section identifies the targets and

objectives of the program and includes the necessary "lip service" on how successful the

program will be and how all problems can be overcome. This section must also include the

program master schedule showing how all projects and activities are related. The total program

master schedule should include the following:

  • An appropriate scheduling system (bar charts, milestone charts, network, etc.)
  • A listing of activities at the project level or lower
  • The possible interrelationships between activities (can be accomplished by logic networks, critical path networks, or PERT networks)
  • Activity time estimates (a natural result of the item above)
  • As already mentioned, the summary and conclusion chapter is usually the second section in the

program plan so that upper-level customer management can have a complete overview of the

program without having to search through the technical information.

The third section, that is the management section of the program plan contains procedures,

charts, and schedules as follows:

The assignment of key personnel to the program is indicated. This usually refers only to the

program office personnel and team members, since under normal operations these will be

the only individuals interfacing with customers.

Manpower, planning, and training are discussed to assure customers that qualified people

will be available from the functional units.

A linear responsibility chart might also be included to identify to customers the authority

relationships that will exist in the program.


There exist some situations in which the management section may be omitted from the

proposal. For a follow-up program, the customer may not require this section if management's

positions are unchanged.

In addition to this, the management sections are also not required if the management

information was previously provided in the proposal or if the customer and contractor have

continuous business dealings.

The fourth section that is the technical section may include as much as 75 to 90 percent of the

program plan, especially if the effort includes research and development. The technical section

may require constant updating as the program matures. The following items can be included as

part of the technical section:

Detailed breakdown of the charts and schedules used in the program master schedule,

possibly including schedule/cost estimates.

Listing of the testing to be accomplished for each activity. (It is best to include the exact

testing matrices.)

Procedures for accomplishment of testing. This might also include a description of the key

elements in the operations or manufacturing plans as well as a listing of the facility and

logistic requirements.

Identification of materials and material specifications. (This might also include system


An attempt to identify the risks associated with specific technical requirements (not

commonly included). This assessment tends to scare management personnel who are

unfamiliar with the technical procedures, so it should be omitted if at all possible.

Therefore, the program plan contains a description of all phases of the program. For many

programs, especially large ones, detailed planning is required for all major events and activities.

The following Table 24.1 identifies the type of individual plans that may be required in place of

a (total) program plan. However, the amount of detail must be controlled, for too much

paperwork can easily inhibit successful management of a program.

Types of Plans

Once agreed on by the contractor and customer, the program plan is then used to provide

program direction. This is shown in the figure 24.4 below. If the program plan is written clearly,

then any functional manager or supervisor should be able to identify what is expected of him.

Note that the program plan should be distributed to each member of the program team, all

functional managers and supervisors interfacing with the program, and all key functional

personnel. The program plan does not contain all of the answers, for if it did, there would be no

need for a program office. The plan serves merely as a guide.

Program Direction Activities

Here we conclude with a final note that the program plan may be specified contractually to

satisfy certain requirements as identified in the customer's statement of work. The contractor

retains the right to decide how to accomplish this, unless, of course, this is also identified in the

Statement of Work (SOW). If the Statement of Work (SOW) specifies that quality assurance

testing will be accomplished on fifteen end-items from the production line, then fifteen is the

minimum number that must be tested. The program plan may show that twenty-five items are to

be tested. If the contractor develops cost overrun problems, he may wish to revert to the

Statement of Work (SOW) and test only fifteen items. Contractually, he may do this without

informing the customer. In most cases, however, the customer is notified, and the program is


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