September 28th, 2021

Integrating project costs and schedules is a goal for anyone wanting to truly understand where the project should be, and needs to be, in terms of progress, hours consumed and money spent. Difficulties with aligning work and cost breakdown structures, differences between cost loaded schedules and project budgets, and disconnected scheduling and cost control teams are just some of the reasons why we often fail to fully realize complete cost and schedule integration.

Activities and Activity Steps, Dates, Progress, Resource Assignments, and even Activity Milestones, from the schedule are used to drive multiple Enterprise Project Performance (EPP) processes:

Define Contracts and Payment Milestones based on activities and/or activity steps. Assign Risks and track Issues and Changes related to Schedule activities.
Develop Resource and Cost Plans based on schedule dates. Accurate Cost Planning supports effective and timely Fund Management.
Use Resource Assignments as the basis of Budget and Forecast. Produce accurate Time-Phased costs on Resource Assignment based distribution profiles.
Measure Schedule Progress against the Plan to analyze Productivity and help produce accurate Forecasts based on performance
Integrate Milestone activities with Project Development or Stage Gates

The ability to leverage native integration – where the capability lives within the same system as other processes rather than needing to bridge external data siloes –  is a key differentiator, and enabler, to maximize the potential and power of schedule integration. Data can then be automatically synchronized versus relying on cadence-based or ad-hoc updates from the schedule. In turn, this allows project managers, cost controllers, resource managers, fund managers and portfolio managers to analyze project data with the knowledge they are using accurate and up-to-date information.

The ability to create and manage project schedules directly in the same EPP solution used to manage strategic objectives, funds, resources, budgets, and forecasts offers obvious benefits in terms of simplifying the project ecosystem. Not only does this help with reducing the number of different tools needed for project planning and management, but it also helps reduce costs in terms of software licensing, support, and training…especially if you are already using the EPP solution as part of your daily project management activities.

Achieving cost and schedule integration to enable earned value analysis and improve project forecasting is nothing new and it has been a requirement for managing projects, especially major capital projects, for many years. What has changed is the roles and responsibilities of those involved in ensuring project performance. The evolution of the project professional from cost manager to project controller to portfolio stakeholder has increased the opportunities and, in some cases, the necessity, to leverage schedule data.

Integration with external schedules from Primavera P6 or Microsoft Project will still be a needed for projects requiring the use of COTS scheduling platforms, but this shouldn’t remove the option to use the data from these external sources to enable other EPP processes. If only there was a platform available with pre-configured rules that supports no-code customization for schedule integration…some sort of connector for P6 and MS Project! But wait – there is! Look out for more EcoSys blogs discussing how EcoSys Connect, and Connectors, supports seamless integration with external schedules that not only offer an option to switch schedule management from P6 to EcoSys but also supports an 80/20 process management approach to achieve a 100% view of schedule data in a single EPP platform.

Graeme is a project controls professional specializing in Engineering and Construction project controls technology with over 25 years of experience, providing project controls services and solution delivery. As the Director of Product Development for EcoSys at Hexagon, Graeme leads the research and requirements definition within the Enterprise Project Performance team. He works to define and deliver the product functional and technical roadmap to meet and exceed the demands of the Hexagon global client base.

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