Published here August, 2004.

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked | Downside | Summary

Book Structure

Total Project Control, referred to throughout as "TPC", consists of eleven chapters as follows:

  1. The Nature of a Project
  2. An Overview of TPC Planning
  3. An Overview of Planning the Work
  4. Planning the Work Scope
  5. Developing the Work Breakdown Structure
  6. Scheduling I: The Critical Path Method (CPM)
  7. Scheduling II: The Precedence Diagram method (PDM)
  8. Activity-Based Resource Assignments
  9. Resource Scheduling and Leveling
  10. Tracking and controlling the Project
  11. Conclusion

Stephen just loves acronyms. His first "new metric, the "DIPP", which he claims is fundamental to TPC[3] is first mentioned in chapter 1.[4] However, it is not explained until chapter 2, and even then only after introducing the "CLUB", Cost of Leveling with Unresolved Bottlenecks, and "AIM FIRE" his acronym for the management cycle of Aware, Isolate, Measure, Forecast, Investigate, Review and Execute. So, what does DIPP stand for? We had to search the index to find out and guess what - it stands for Devaux's Index of Project Performance! DIPP has a formula which is EMV (expected monetary value of the project, as of the current completion date) divided by ETC (estimated cost to complete the project.)

Chapter 2 also mentions Stephen's VBS (value breakdown structure)[5] but it is not until chapter 5 that we learn that it is a TPC concept that brings the scope/cost/schedule triangle of value analysis down to the micro-project or activity level.[6] Chapter 5 introduces another concept, the DRAG (Devaux's Removed Activity Gauge) that is the quantification of the amount of time each activity is adding to the project. It is the opposite of total float, and like total float, since it only exists on the critical path activities, it is the amount of time an activity can be shortened before it has a DRAG of zero and another path becomes critical.[7] A good explanation of its use is given in chapter 7.

A metric for the resource elasticity of an activity, called DRED, again is mentioned in chapter 6, but is explained in chapter 7. It turns out it stands for Doubled Resource Estimated Duration and is an estimate of how long it would take if the rate of resource usage anticipated in estimating its duration were to be doubled. Consequently it is an index of resource elasticity.[8] But perhaps the high point is another acronym called RAD that appears in chapter 9. Chapter 9 is a discussion of the parameters surrounding resource scheduling, leveling and availability, both on and off the critical path, and the calculation of DRAG. Stephen explains that there are three different causes of DRAG:[9]

  1. Delay due to the logic of the work, i.e. CPM schedule DRAG,
  2. Delay due to other ancestor activities, which unavoidably push out the schedule of the successor, and
  3. Delay due to the specific activity having to wait for resources, which we will call resource availability DRAG or RAD.

So there you have the definition of RAD. In practice, RAD itself has mathematical constraints and the calculation is complex, requiring computer software. Stephen provides the formula and explanation, but you can skip this section if you wish. The point is, this metric is typically not calculated, so the real impact of unavailable or over stretched resources on projects as a whole is unknown to the organization and hence not accounted for when it comes to assessing project failures.

Introduction  Introduction

3. Ibid. p22
4. Ibid. p7
5. Ibid. p32
6. Ibid. p93
7. Ibid. p139
8. Ibid. p184
9. Ibid. p257
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