While evaluating the schedule quality, during planning & monitoring & controlling, it is important to make assessments from a quantitative and qualitative and perspective. A quantitative assessment of the quality of schedule quality based on measurable criteria rooted in industry-defined scheduling best practices.
The Defense Contract Management Agency developed a set of health checks & guidelines collectively known as the DCMA 14-Point Assessment. These aren’t necessarily fast and hard rules, but more indicators of potential problem areas where a deeper schedule analysis may be necessary. Here, we will examine each of the 14 points and why they are critical for a healthy project time schedule.
DCMA 14-Point Assessment Guidelines For Schedule Check
The logic sequence check looks to ensure all incomplete activities have defined predecessors & successors. The only missing link can have an impact on the project finish date, so it’s imperative the team analyze the network logic to ensure they capture all dependencies.
The logic DCMA metric is that not greater than 5% of incomplete activities should miss a predecessor or/and successor. However, it’s common for firms to self-impose a more strict policy that all incomplete activities have predecessors & successors, with the exception of level-of-effort & summary tasks.
At the very least, it’s advisable that tasks without true in-scope successors or predecessors be linked to the project start or project finish milestone, respectively. This indicates you considered the dependencies & not simply missed them.
This DCMA check for leads identifies any incomplete (not started or in progress) activities that are carrying a lead (also known as a negative lag). The DCMA check requires no leads, negative lags or Leads are often used to advance the successor start or finish date relative to the logic link applied. Doing this can result in the successor activity starting before the start of the predecessor activity.
This DCMA check applies to all normal activities, summaries, milestones, and level of effort (hammocks) that are planned, or in-progress.
The banning of the use of negative lags/leads isn’t based upon any universal scheduling principle; negative lags may just indicate the overlap of discrete work while a positive lag could represent actual work, which is against CPM critical path method principals.
The DCMA schedule check is a bit more forgiving when it comes to positive lags, but the aim here is to minimize their use in your time schedule. The goal is not more than 5% of relationships should have a lag.
Primavera P6 and other software support 4 types of relationships, but that doesn’t mean you should build a time schedule using only Start-Start (SS) relationships. Finish-Start (FS) is the best. DCMA schedule check says your time schedule should use Finish-Start (FS) 90% of the time (or more).
The number of activities with a hard constraint can’t exceed 5%.
No appropriate definition is available for hard constraint. We can assume that for Oracle Primavera P6, this criterion applies to mandatory start or mandatory finish. In such a case the allowance should be 0% in our opinion.
There is some confusion on exactly what soft and hard constraints are, and which constraints belong to what denomination. This also depends on the type of software. It is safe to say that constraints that ‘overwrite’ the logic of the time schedule, are to be avoided. You want to keep your time schedule flexible and dynamic (for useful outcomes of your analyses) and those constraints reduce just that.
This DCMA metric measures the percentage of unfinished activities with total float (TF) greater than 44 working days. DCMA requires that the High Float activity does not exceed 44 working days, i.e. the percentage of total incomplete activities does not exceed 5%.
This DCMA schedule check represents the time (hours/days) that an activity can be delayed without affecting negatively the project milestones or/and the estimated time for project completion. A certain activity with a total float that exceeds 44 working days could be a consequence of incomplete activities (successor/predecessor).
This DCMA schedule check metric is interconnected with Hard Constraints since it can indicate that Hard Constraints have been assigned to the time schedule. When this happens, it is very much feasible that the construction project’s or milestones’ completion is delayed.
DCMA threshold for this metric is zero, therefore it is required that regular checks and reviews of the project time schedule are executed. The Negative Float, or Float, should be avoided, and, if activities with a large amount of negative float are noticed, they should be mitigated or otherwise, the risk for a missing construction project or milestones deadlines could arise.
In the planning process, it’s common to decompose work packages to a level where the activities are discrete enough to be monitored and controlled.DCMA considers any in progress activity with a baseline duration of greater than 44 days to be in violation of DCMA metric.
Activities with duration +44 make it difficult to objectively estimate resources and assess performance. In cases where an activity can’t be broken down further, the project manager should have an articulable method of performance assessment. The DCMA threshold for the high duration is 5% of incomplete activities.
The invalid date DCMA check applies only during construction works. An activity is said to have invalid dates if it has forecast start/finish dates in the past or actual start/finish dates in the future, with respect to the project status date.
The threshold for this DCMA metric is zero. Activities that haven’t yet started or finished must be pushed beyond the status date, and activities that have started or finished early must be revised with the actual start/finish dates on which they occurred. This is one of the more critical metrics, as activities that violate this call into question the validity of the rest of the time schedule.
The number of activities with a duration of at least one day with resources should be 100 %. However, failure to comply does not indicate failure of the DCMA criterion, implying that resource loading is not mandatory.
This criterion tests the amount of resource loading on the basis that if a resource loader has decided to load the schedule, the entire schedule of resources will be loaded.
The number of tasks whose actual date of completion is later than their scheduled date of completion does not exceed 5%.
In reality, this is a project performance check and not a quality test schedule. Performance is considered to be inadequate if more than 5% of completed activities have a real completion date that is later than the baseline completion date. A re-baselining may be considered or additional performance assessments may have to be assessed for effect
12-Critical Path Test
The addition of 600 days to a critical activity will be extended by an estimated amount of days to the completion of the project.
As different calendars are used, the impact that this may have on the result should be taken into consideration.
If you do not extend the date of project completion by the same number of days applied to the critical path, broken logic can be assumed. You must note that for different calendars a particular delay can also occur after the project has been completed. For example, seasonal restrictions can have a significant impact and make it much harder to interpret this test
13-Critical Path Length Index (CPLI)
Evaluate the integrity of the overall logic of the network and the realism of the network finishing by project Baseline end date.
CPLI Formula: %=(Critical Path Length + Total Float) / (Critical Path Length)
Critical Path Length: Is the duration (in working days) between the status date of the project And the Baseline Finish date of the selected Completion Task or Milestone
Total Float: It is the float on the selected Completion Task or Milestone when it is constrained to Finish No Later Than its Baseline Finish date.
“The CPLI Ratio should be 0.95 or greater”
14-Baseline Execution Index (BEI)
The final metric, the Baseline Execution Index (BEI), is another indicator designed to measure performance against the baseline plan. Put differently, it measures the performance of the tasks performed by the project team. It is calculated by dividing the total number of tasks completed by the total number of tasks scheduled to be completed by the date of the project status.
The BIE of 1.00 indicates that the project team is running on the plan, with more than 1.00 indicating ahead of schedule and less than 1.00 indicating behind schedule. DCMA considers that a BEI less than 0.95 indicates a potential problem that will need further investigations.
Download the full DCMA 14 Point Assessment PDF with an explanation for each point.