6 Tools And Techniques For Sequencing Activities
In this article, I want to look at some of the tools and techniques for sequencing project activities. In my previous article, I have talked about some of the inputs of sequencing projects which include: Expert judgement, decomposition, rolling wave planning and meetings among others. Follow me as we look at some of the outputs in this article.
Here are the tools and techniques…
#1 Precedence Diagramming Methods
The Precedence Diagramming Method is a technique used for constructing a schedule model in which activities are represented by nodes and are graphically linked by one or more logical relationships to show the sequence in which the activities are to be performed.
Precedence Diagramming Methods include four types of dependencies or logical relationships. A Predecessor activity is an activity that logically comes before a dependent activity in a schedule. A successor activity is a dependent activity that logically comes after another activity in a schedule.
Here are the four types of precedence relationships…
- Finish to Start: It is a logical relationship in which a successor activity cannot start until a predecessor activity has finished. For example, installing the Operating System on a PC cannot start until the PC hardware is assembled.
- Finish to Finish: It is a logical relationship in which a successor activity cannot finish until a predecessor activity has finished. For example, writing a document is required to finish before editing the document can finish.
- Start to Start: It is a logical relationship in which a successor activity cannot start until a predecessor activity has started. For example, level concrete cannot begin until pour foundation begins.
- Start to Finish: It is a logical relationship in which a successor activity cannot finish until a predecessor activity has started. For example, a new accounts payable system (successor) has to start before the old account payable system can be shut down.
In PDM, Finish to Start is the most commonly used type of precedence relationship, the Start to FInish is very rarely used but is included to present a complete list of PDM relationship types.
Two activities can have two logical relationships at the same time e.g SS and FF. Multiple relationships between the same activities are not recommended, so a decision has to be made to select the relationship with the highest impact.
#2 Dependency determination and Integration
Dependency may be determined by the following attributes: mandatory or discretionary, internal or external in nature. It also has four attributes but two can applicable at the same time in the following ways: mandatory external dependencies, mandatory internal dependencies, discretionary external dependencies or discretionary internal dependencies. Because of space, I will discuss all this in my future articles.
#3 Lead and Lag
A lead is the amount of time a successor activity can be advanced with respect to a predecessor activity. For example, on a project to construct a new office building, the landscaping could be scheduled to start two weeks prior to the scheduled punch list completion. Leads are always represented with a negative number in scheduling software.
A lag is the amount of time a successor activity will be delayed with respect to a predecessor activity. For example, a technical writing team may begin the draft of a large document 15 days after they begin writing it. This can be shown as a Start to Start a relationship with a 15-day lag between them.
The Project management team determines the dependencies that may require a lead or a lag to accurately define the logical relationship. The use of leads and lags should not replace logic. Also, duration estimates do not include any leads or lags. Activities and their related assumptions should be documented.
#4 Project Management Information System
Project Management Information Systems include scheduling software that has the capability to help plan, organise and adjust the sequence of the activities, insert the logical relationships, leads and lags values, and differentiate the different type of dependencies.
#5 Project Schedule Network Diagrams
A Project Schedule Network Diagram is a graphical representation of the logical relationships, also referred to as dependencies, among the project schedule activities. A project Schedule Network Diagram is produced manually or by using project management software. It can include full project details, or have one or more summary activities.
A Summary narrative can accompany the diagram and describe the basic approach used to sequence the activities. Any unusual activity sequence within the network should be fully described within the narrative.
#6 Update Project Documents
Project documents that may be updated as a result of carrying out this process include:
- Activity attributes: It may describe a necessary sequence of events or defined predecessor or successor relationships as well as defined lead and lag logical relationships between the activities.
- Activity list: The activity list may be impacted by the change in relationships among the project activities during the sequencing activities.
- Assumption log: Assumption and constraints recorded in the assumption log may need to be updated based on the sequencing, relationship determination, and leads and lags, and may give rise to individual project risks that may impact the project schedule.
- Milestone list: The scheduled date for specific milestones may be impacted by changes in relationships among the project activities during the sequencing activities.
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