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The Problem of Real-Time Schedule/Risk Analysis

The primary challenge that many companies in asset and project intensive industries have is that, when you start with a project, what you’re really starting with is a plan for what you intend to do. Every project is full of assumptions. You’re assuming you will start on a certain day, assuming funding, and assuming resources. You’re assuming weather will cooperate and allow you to do certain things. The probability of those assumptions not holding true becomes a risk.

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So, you create a brilliant plan. And you don’t want to be caught off guard if something doesn’t go quite as you expected it to. You want to know: what happens if this risk occurs? Or this one? What happens if we don’t get the resources or don’t get the materials in time? All of those questions become your ‘what-if’ scenarios. 

Say you want to look at those various what-ifs from a risk point of view. It’s tedious to do that in a schedule. For instance, let’s imagine you want to model the impact of productivity on your project. You make an estimate about the duration. You know that, because you’re using contracted labor, your productivity may be greater or less than expected. So, you can go back and modify that in your schedule, but you’re not guaranteed that it will be true. Risk plans, on the other hand, will show you probability. What would happen if this did occur? What if we don’t get that level of productivity and we don’t get the materials on time? That’s very complex in a scheduling program, but very easy in a risk program.

Project scheduling tools allow you to do that, but doing it from a Risk POV allows you to think probabilistically instead of deterministically. The benefit of doing a risk-based scenario analysis is that you can look at different versions of your project. It can also give you a clearer view of reality. You have your plan, which is what you want to execute; you have your risk, which is all the things that potentially may happen to your project based on what you know. Now, you can quickly and dynamically generate these alternative scenarios.

The end result? Having a schedule that has a strong chance of actually being executed in a time frame you are comfortable with.

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