One of the important questions, when a schedule quality analysis is performed, is: “Is the schedule review up-to-date?”. There are a few metrics that could help find the answer to this question and identify activities with potentially invalid dates. Some of them could be performed based on the current schedule and others require a comparison to the previous schedule snapshot. Identified issues may indicate that project has gaps in a schedule maintenance process that must be addressed.

Completed, in-Progress and Not Started activities

The status of each activity is defined by Project status date (data date), Start & Finish dates and ‘% Complete’. There is a correlation between these data points.

Incomplete activities in the past.

All activities with start and/or finish dates in the past have to be actualised (100% complete) or rescheduled.

Started or Completed activities in the future.

All activities with actual dates in the future have to be unactualised (0% if not Started and <100% if In-Progress) or actualised dates updated to the past.

Activates with a start date in the past and finish in the future but with 0% or 100% of progress.

In-progress activities have to have the start date in the past, the finish in the future, and ‘% Complete’ between 0% and 100%. All In-progress activities with 100% or 0% of Completion have to be reviewed. Dates or ‘% Complete’ need to be updated.

Incorrect Status of Milestones

When a milestone indicates completion of the event, the milestone has only to be marked as “Completed” when all predecessor activities are completed and, on the opposite, if all predecessors are completed, the milestone has to have a “100% Complete” status.

Actualised milestones with open predecessors.

Completed milestones with the “Not Completed” predecessor(s).

The status of the milestone and the status of predecessor activities have to be reviewed and updated.
This issue may indicate that the milestone has a strict dependency that must be removed.

Not Completed milestones with complete predecessors.

Not Completed milestones with ALL Completed predecessors.

This issue indicates that the schedule may have missing activities or dependencies.

Historical dates

Status, Start and Finish dates of already Completed activities should not change from version to version.

Unactualised activities

Activities that previously were reported as “Completed” but the status has changed to “In-progress” or “Not Started”.

Justification for each activity previously reported as completed, but not completed now must be provided.

Historical start and dates changed

Activities that previously were reported as “Completed” with changed Start and/or Finish dates.

Justification for each activity with changed actual start and/or finish dates must be provided.

The last two metrics are particularly important when a quality analysis of a contractor schedule is performed. Constant issues are a good indication that the contractor needs to mature their schedule maintenance process.

Also, projects with such issues may have a “double counting” issue when the same activity (or deliverable) is counted as being completed a number of times.  

Schedule Guidelines

GAO Schedule Assessment Guide, Planning & Scheduling Excellence Guide (DCMA-14) and NASA Schedule Management Handbook have metrics to identify invalid dates but they include only metrics to identify invalid activities in the past and the future, the first two checks in this post.

Schedule Tools

There is a philosophical question what to do when a schedule status update is not received?
Should a project team assume that all activities in past have not been started (or completed) and automatically push the activities to the earliest possible date: Project Status Update (known as Data Date) or they should assume that some of them may have started (or Completed) and not be updated dates until the clarification is received?
Probably developers of scheduling tools have different views on what is the correct answer to this question.
Primavera and Spider Project have the “Data Date” feature to automatically push activities with dates in the past to the Data date. Microsoft Project doesn’t have a such feature. In my observation, projects managed in Microsoft Project more often have “Incomplete activities in the past” issues and projects that are managed in Primavera more often have “Historical start and dates changed” issues.

Alex Lyaschenko

PMO | Portfolio Planning & Delivery | PMP | P3O Practitioner | AgilePM Practitioner | Six Sigma