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The Primavera Emperor Has No Clothes

The Primavera Emperor Has No Clothes

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 90) – All IMHO:

As a construction industrial complex court jester I can declare, “the Primavera emperor has no clothes”! 

Among the many delusions in the construction business, the emphasis given to the Primavera project programme (schedule, if you are North American) as a project management tool is probably the most hilarious. 

Take a typical Commissioning Management project……..

When the order is issued to the Commissioning firm there is immediate pressure to write a detailed Commissioning programme in Primavera that can in incorporated into the main construction programme. I would argue this is a complete waste of time because:

  1. Construction is normally behind and the time allowed for Commissioning has been reduced to a laughable allowance.
  2. The construction team do not understand Commissioning and will not really integrate Commissioning into the main programme.
  3. Construction sequencing and MEP completion has been programmed by “concrete farmers” who do not understand MEP systems .
  4. Primavera is expensive (there is a reason Larry Ellison is the 5th richest man in the world).
  5. Primavera requires specialist skills to use that add no value or progress to the actual project work required.
  6. Gantt Charts are just pretty pictures unless there are pure logic networks underpinning them.
  7. When the Commissioning team arrive on site the project is normally out of money, out of time, key people have left and problems that have been hidden now have to be addressed. Hard to put this in a Gantt chart.
  8. Major subcontractors and specialists use their own project management tools and do not coordinate well with the main contractor.
  9. Very few people can understand or follow the programme.
  10. Once complete anyone who can make a difference to progress pays no attention to the programme.

The net result is a nice looking picture called a Gantt chart with thousands of lines, activities and dependancies that literally no-one uses in the real world. So why is a Primavera programme required? My conclusions are:

  1. Provides illusion to the client that the main contractor is “managing” the project and on top of his game.
  2. Provides main contractor invoicing justifications.
  3. Provides main contractor ability to “game” cash flow.
  4. Provides retrospective illusion of management and justification in the event of legal actions.
  5. Provides employment for specialists.
  6. Provides main contractor ability to charge and profit from preliminary costs.

There seems to be a conspiracy of silence about the farcical nature of Gantt charts in Primavera, particularly the building Commissioning aspect. Maybe this was all agreed at a construction Bilderberg Group meeting I was not at? 

What to do? Once the Commissioning Management firm issues the detailed Primavera programme it can go on the shelve and the real work can be started. The answer from a Commissioning Management perspective is:

  1. Detailed logic networks for each system
  2. Detailed logic network for whole building systems integration testing
  3. Milestone programme with 1 and 2 week look aheads

I know this works as I have used it on several projects. 

In the Middle East there is a sometimes fatalistic perspective on life and you can frequently hear the words “God Willing” after a declaration of intent or project completion date. I think the Commissioning Management Primavera programme should be renamed “Primavera CxM, God Willing”.

This is the last post for 2016, I will be back in Jan 2017. I wish you all a healthy and prosperous new year.

Twitter: @BLDWhisperer

Related posts & links:

#61 – Too Big to Succeed? ( )

#54 – P3, unicorns and rainbows – the 2 biggest issues ( )

# Alex Katsanos did a great post on this very subject ( ).

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