OPS = The Roadmap to Success
The Overall Project Schedule (OPS) provides the comprehensive plan for the entire project and serves as the primary schedule control tool. The OPS represents the framework in which major tasks, resources and interfaces necessary for the planning, design and construction of a project are identified and monitored. The OPS should incorporate the objectives and commitments specific to the project, must be realistic and achievable and should be clearly understood and agreed to by all project participants.
Draper utilizes a key-participant, team-oriented schedule development process for the creation of the OPS. The process thoroughly vets the program goals and objectives to create a schedule driven project focus in the planning, design and construction elements of a key project.
Over our 35 years in business, Draper & Associates has been responsible for creating thousands of Overall Project Schedules for construction projects. Over time, the development process has been refined to provide the most efficient and effective method that ensure team input and buy-in.
When you contact us about your project, one of the first questions you will get is “can you send us the link to the drawings”? At Draper, we strongly believe that the construction scheduler must understand the details of the project to effectively serve the client and our corporate mantra is “Know the project’s documents better than everyone!”
To achieve this objective, we have developed the OPS Checklist which identifies the project’s scope of work, tasks, activities, key materials, resources required, and unique project elements that must be accounted for on the OPS. The Draper consultant reviews the construction drawings and specifications and completes the OPS Checklist as the first step in the development of the OPS. In addition to the checklist, the consultant prepares a list of specific questions to be discussed with the project team.
Once the OPS Checklist is finalized, the Draper consultant will typically create the initial or Draft OPS. This version is essentially a framework of how we typically see project progress based upon experience, input from the Project Manager and any preliminary schedules that have been developed. Based on our experience, the development of a Draft OPS will expedite the development of the Final OPS as the key participants have information to react to versus starting with a blank sheet of paper.
Once we have delivered the Draft OPS, the process shifts to turning the schedule into YOUR schedule otherwise known as the Final OPS. Typically, this process involves a series of meetings with the project team to confirm that what is represented in the OPS is how your team wants to build the project.
OVERALL PROJECT SCHEDULE FORMATS
The format for presenting an Overall Project Schedule can vary based upon the needs of the Project Team or other project stakeholders. Draper & Associates has expertise in developing and maintaining schedules in multiple industry accepted formats.
Graphic Network Diagram
The origins of the graphic schedules utilized by Draper & Associates date back to the late 1960’s when Gary Draper realized that there needed to be a better tool for developing and communicating a complex construction project. While the tools Draper utilizes have changed and the format has evolved to meet new requirements, the founding principles have remained.
- Adhere to the Critical Path Method of Scheduling – the graphical OPS utilized by Draper & Associates is a time-scaled precedence network logic diagram which graphically portrays individual work activities, their duration and the relationship between activities. This graphic display of the work plan can be used to determine the duration of a project and identify activities that are critical to the completion or the project.
- Easy to Understand – most people are visual learners and the Graphic Network Diagram OPS developed by Draper allows all project participants to follow the critical path and understand the relationship between activities without having to flip through stacks of paper. The graphical forma makes it easy to confirm project logic or detect logic errors immediately.
- Easy to Communicate – work flow and trade stacking are abundantly clear with the use of color coding and the layout in the graphic OPS. The layout of the schedule activities for a base building type flow from left to right and from the bottom of the page upward. Team members can easily locate a date and understand what activities should be completed, what activities are ongoing and what activities are upcoming. The format allows all team member to see the big picture and understand their impact on achieving goals.
- One Project = One Page – except for unusual circumstances, the Draper consultant will provide the graphic OPS on one sheet of plotted paper. For Database Schedules, a large project with 1000’s of activities may result in 50+ pages of letter sized paper. At Draper, we believe the ability to show a project on one, large format piece of paper is extremely powerful as it allows the team to see the entire plan and flow of a project. Logic errors and unachievable trade stacking is easily visible which allows the team to be proactive in identifying project risks. Many Draper clients will post the OPS on the wall of the job trailer and have the consultant status after each meeting, thus allowing the entire team to see project status.
- Easy to Update & Adapt – the tools utilized by Draper in creating the graphic OPS allows the consultant to make adjustment and logic modifications in real-time to demonstrate the effects of commitments being made during meetings. With Database Schedules, these modifications could require hours of work and potentially create follow on issues that are not readily apparent.
Over the 35 years of Draper & Associates existence, the power and functionality of database driven scheduling software has increased exponentially. At the same time, the software and maintenance costs for these tools have continued to decline making their usage more prevalent among small to mid-sized contractors.
Throughout our history, Draper consultants have been providing scheduling services for our clients that entail the development and maintenance of a database schedules. Our consultants have training and experience with all the commonly utilized software including Primavera P6, Microsoft Project, Astra and Phoenix.
At Draper, we understand the power of utilizing database schedules such as Primavera P6 for performing project planning and analytics. We also understand the pitfalls inherent in utilizing a database schedule that can impact project success. The quality of a database schedule is directly correlated to the quality of the information that goes into the software. Issues such as logic flaws can be hidden within the database and not readily apparent to the users. The result can be schedule busts that are not discovered in a timely manner and result in negative budget impacts.
Draper & Associates has developed a set of best practice procedures and standards to help our clients navigate the complicated process of managing project schedules utilizing software systems such as Primavera P6.
- OPS Development – we strongly encourage our clients to develop the initial OPS utilizing the Graphic Network Diagram format. The graphic format provides a tool to allow the project team to clearly see how the project is planned to be built and the inherent logic. Multiple iterations of the schedule can be developed as the plan is finalized and more detailed information becomes available.
- P6 Conversion – once the graphic OPS has been finalized and approved, the Draper consultant will convert the graphic schedule to a P6 (or other software) schedule utilizing the work breakdown structure, work flow and logic from the graphic version.
- QA/QC – once the conversion is complete, the Draper consultant utilizes a peer review process to test the validity of the schedule. Our consultants utilize tools such as Aegis-Rubix tp analyze the logic of the schedule and identify risks before they impact project success.
- Status Updating/Reporting – during the update meetings, the Draper consultant will gather information (actual starts, actual finishes, logic changes, etc.) from the project team required to perform the status update and produce reports. Draper has developed standard reporting templates to communicate to the project team the key data associated with the latest status update. Additionally, our consultants utilize a standard narrative template to tell the client what the schedule is saying.
- File Management/Integrity – a key to a successful project utilizing a database schedule is the process for managing the file and ensuring the integrity of the data within the schedule. For project utilizing P6, the Draper consultant will maintain historical versions of the .XER file anytime significant changes are made to the schedule which will allow the client to capture changes if an as-built version is required. Additionally, we adhere to the policy that the Draper consultant is the only person allowed to make change to the master P6 file. Clients will be provided copies of the project file to conduct analysis, but all changes must be input by the consultant to ensure the integrity of the file.
In many cases, the Draper consultant will maintain both the database schedule and the graphic schedule concurrently over the life of a project. This process allows for the graphical schedule to remain current and used to communicate project status in addition to providing a tool for validating the data being reported from the P6 schedule.
Whether you choose to use a Graphic Network Diagram, Database Schedule or a combination for your project, the primary factor for success is the skills and experience of the Scheduling Consultant. At Draper, our consultants have a diverse knowledge of construction and expertise a broad range of tools to help deliver successful projects.