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Understand a progress update in less than 30 seconds?

Industrial scheduling software from the past

Seems straightforward. You have this month’s progress update for your project and all you need to do is compare the schedule with last month’s progress update. Conceptually simple but it gets murky very quickly. Many things can happen from one month to the next:

  • Activities are delayed

  • Resource allocation varies

  • Activities are pushed forward/backward in time

  • Activities are added/deleted/split

  • Values and parameters are changed

  • etc


When you have a schedule with a couple of 1000s activities understanding what has changed and more importantly, why, is very complex. It could get worse though: you are the planner responsible for gathering progress updates from different parties or subcons and must integrate all this information into one progress update. You don’t control what other parties do and report and have little to no influence on it.


Typically, a planner spends 20% to 50% of their time “understanding” how the project is going based on the last progress update. Analyzing, reporting, studying potential changes, etc. Doing this analysis with traditional scheduling software requires significant effort and time.


Ways to overcome the challenge

There are many options, hacks, tricks, or guides that can alleviate the “pain” of manually analyzing progress updates to understand changes. Most planners will have their own, self-developed hack to overcome this challenge. Some of the most common:


  • Alternative Baseline in P6 (primary, secondary, tertiary) to overlay both schedules

Pros

Cons

  • No need for extra tools

  • Setting up filtering to analyze & understand changes is complicated

  • Hard to share learnings with a wider project team

For more details.


  • Schedule Comparison feature in P6 (former Claim Digger – much better name, right?)

Pros

Cons

  • No need for extra tools

  • You enjoy scanning thousands of lines of HTML format

  • Spits out a massive list of changes in tabular format in HTML (image below)

  • Hard to share learnings in a visual way

For more details


  • Schedule comparison in Primavera Cloud

Pros

Cons

  • No need for extra tools if you have Primavera cloud

  • Information is nicely organized and displayed

  • Still is too complex to use intuitively: too many buttons, hard and unintuitive to filter, to overlay activities…its P6 but on the cloud

  • Mathematical filters i.e. you can’t filter for “delayed activities”, you need to filter some formulaic approach “New duration > old duration”

  • Can’t share learnings

For more details.


  • Excel Export (crazy)

Pros

Cons

  • None (we can’t think of any pros for this option)

  • All the above plus having to do it manually in Excel with thousands of lines

  • This to us seems like a punishment 

We can’t recommend any reads, just this AI-generated image of those who follow this path:

  • Power BI integration

Pros

Cons

  • Very powerful when working

  • Can be tailored to display the information required by the wider project team

  • Accessed by others easily

  • Requires a lot of knowledge to set up

  • Can be hard to maintain

  • Doesn’t display changes in Gantt format 

For more details.


  • Other online tools such as XER Schedule, ScheduleReader, etc

Pros

Cons

  • Tend to be free

  • Data security

  • Output is similar to schedule comparison

  • Hard to share learnings & insights 

Are they good enough?

Some tricks work for certain projects and planners. Other planners just accept the fact that they must deal with this reality and live with it. Integrations with other tools work great until they collapse for some reason and the intern who spent the summer setting up that fancy Power BI integration is no longer working in the team.


All of the above require some kind of effort to set up, maintain, understand information, and export. It's one of those chronic pains that one has learned to live with and barely notices anymore until they see that alternatives exist.

Enter AI

Artificial Intelligence is a game-changer technology that can make understanding a progress update a 30-second job. Frontline's AnalyzerTM technology enables the user to upload two project schedules and compare them, and our AI will help you quickly understand what has changed and why.


To keep things simple, Frontline industrial software looks at all that has changed (status, dates, new/deleted activities/parameter modifications) and enables the user to see these changes with intuitive filtering in an interactive way. Plus, this can be shared with anyone on the project. Behind are the days when a planner had to export the Gantt view in PDF and somehow highlight the changes and the impact of those changes. Frontline's AnalyzerTM can be used by anyone in the project with a basic knowledge of project planning, no need to know anything about MSP or P6.


As simple as:



Can't believe your eyes? See Frontline in action, with a free demo

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