Progress Reporting

Stage Flow Diagram
Stage Flow Diagram

It’s time to improve your progress reporting game. And it’s not hard to do.  You rightly spend a lot of time preparing to do the work in the 3 preparation stages ahead of the execution stage. 

Your current work flow, as shown in the diagram, includes: 1. Strategic Stage – review whether you even need to do the work, including performing a risk analysis; 2. Tactical Stage – create a detailed plan and estimate of the steps and people, equipment, materials, supplies, tools and services; 3. Logistical Stage – activate the supply chain to ensure that the required contractors and vendors, with the needed resources and  supplies, are ready to deliver on schedule. 

We’ll review how to leverage the work you’ve done in these stages to deliver painless, yet accurate, minute-by-minute progress reporting, without the need for large dedicated, spreadsheet-based efforts.

Progress Reporting – The Basic Ingredients

Stage Gantt Chart
Stage Gantt Chart

Your detailed (tactical) planned dates and costs represent the initial pass at a really workable execution plan.  By building on this plan, you already have all of the links between budgeted WBS codes and scheduled work steps.  In other words all of your costs are time-lined. This is a great start. 

Next, you layer in the Supply Chain’s (logistical) plan, with committed dates and costs for each service and deliverable.  This gives you a realistic execution schedule that is driven off actual commitments.  And, as it links to your turnaround or project milestones, it’s an effective, and accurate, early warning system that alerts you, well in advance, about possible delays due to supply-chain bottlenecks.

Once you assign the work steps to crews, you have a full-fledged execution plan and schedule, all in the same solution.  This is now your basis for conducting the Execution stage, and where you measure your completion status for each work step.

By placing this execution plan in the hands of the front-line staff, such as foremen or team leads,  you achieve at least 3 game-changing wins in your progress reporting.  They are ‘game-changing’ because you are not doing so today. And by doing this, you reduce costs while increasing accuracy and  produce repeatable, successful turnaround and project conclusions.  Also, your team loves being this effective, compared to how things are today!  Let’s review each of these wins.

Progress Reporting Win #1: Use the Detailed Plans

Today (i.e. in 2018),  Planners provide their field supervisors with a paper list of the work to be done during the shift.  The field leads then obtain the required safe work permits by approaching the Operations team.  This takes time.  Field teams also collect the materials and tool kits from the warehouse or shop.  This also takes time. The Field team, once onsite,  then performs a job site safety check and orientation of their crew.  This ensures that the work site is safe to proceed using safe work practices. 

The team then does the work.  When needed, the work lead calls for support group help from the Safety (HSE), Inspection (QA/QC), Operations or other teams, to complete their portion of the scope of work.  These communications and responses takes time.

Providing field leads with 24×7 electronic access, possibly on a mobile device, to the shift’s work list for their crew is game-changing.  This work list includes the tactical plus the logistical plans that you have already painstakingly built, and then attached to each crew’s work load.  The support teams, such as Safety (HSE), Inspection (QA/QC) and Operations teams, also have the same plans and work lists available on their devices.  They are notified electronically when the predecessor work steps have started. 

Knowing that your tactical plan’s details are relevant and pro-actively used in the execution stage, provides the assurance that no planned step is neglected or overlooked.  Not having to generate a new execution plan from scratch helps keep the team focused on safety and other challenges.

Progress Reporting Win #2: Default Start / Finish Statusing

At the end of each shift, Planners receive progress updates, from their field leads, on the paper sheets they got at the start of the shift.  The support teams, i.e Operations, Safety (HSE), NDE,  Inspection (QA/QC), etc., each do their own progress statusing, in their own standalone spreadsheets.  There is no continuity of progress data between these teams!

Use the execution plan to enable the field lead to check, tick, or sign-off, 2 boxes for each work step on their plan:  the Started box, and the Completed box.  This records the time of start and finish of work on the work step.  And it provides accurate progress!  Support teams are notified, in advance, of their attention being needed. 

Removal of a manual, and error-prone, progress recording as well as the removal of the need for manual entry of the progress data at a later time, is a significant win.  This means that you have a live, in-field ‘sensor’-type system, that keeps all of your field co-dependents in the constant communication loop – not unlike how LinkedIn and Facebook enable instant notifications. As your teams are already familiar with this approach, in their personal lives, training requirements are minimal. 

Progress Radar Diagram
Progress Radar Diagram

Another huge win? Progress status on each work step is a bit (delta) of earned value, based on the budgeted value for this work.  The system adds each of these deltas, and displays the total earned value on the project dashboard!  You no longer need to have teams dedicated to collecting progress data and assembling and re-entering them into progress spreadsheets to prepare a daily report.  Instead, progress reports are available on demand, and are current with data entered in the field minutes earlier.  Pretty cool stuff. But wait! There’s more.

Progress Reporting Win #3: Default Timekeeping

At the end of the shift,  each field lead currently records crew-members’ time on paper timesheets.  These timesheets are turned in, to time-entry clerks, for entry and error-checking.  This process is laborious, and error-prone, due to errors in WBS codes and poor readability. Also this effort delivers limited value due to poor quality of the data, which is often  incomplete. The problem is so bad, that many sites have turned to use of a simplistic gate/turnstile entry tracking system, that just counts people, to add credence to their timekeeping processes.  It’s yet another silo system that’s been overlaid on the process.

This ‘in/out’ tracking approach pays no attention to the actual work that people have done! This has the effect of supporting inefficient work practices, that, sadly, are common in work places today.  This is not good for morale, as people can see this time-wasting in play and it sets a poor tone for the job.  People want to do things well, and dislike being part of an inefficient operation.  We owe it to the crew to help them deliver a great work product, and to not waste their quality time on tasks that do not deliver ‘bang for buck’.

The game-changer here is that the crew codes, that you used to tag the work steps, are used to default the crew’s time to the work steps worked during the shift.  The timekeeper’s work is now transformed to a ‘data-cleansing’ exercise, rather than a heads-down data entry exercise as is done these days.  This is a big cost-saver as well as time-saver.

Time assigned to work steps is now more accurate than in any other approach in use today, including diligent timekeeping with a pool of data entry clerks!  Having the most accurate incurred (or actual or burned) costs and hours is a huge win for you current turnaround or project.  It is also invaluable for benchmarking.   And you get this with minimal entry and zero time allocated to your field lead’s busy schedule! Field leads now spend more quality time communicating valuable field conditions’ information during shift changeovers.

Ready to Improve Your Progress Reporting?

TeamWork Group has distilled each of the best practices described here into its TeamWork Integrated Solution Technology (TWIST) environment.  TWIST is available in the secure cloud.  All you need is an account for your company and one for each member of your team. 

We’ll help you get to this high performance plateau by starting with the spreadsheets and processes that you currently use.  This approach helps your teams to transition, logically from current practice, to a new one in an orderly, organic manner.  In the same way that the mobile apps have made it easy for us to conduct many boring daily tasks, TWIST helps you to streamline your procedures to obtain near-instant progress tracking.

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