Coordination of distributed schedules in a heterogeneous environment : identification of conflicts using schedule mappings
Construction Projects involve a large number of participants with often overlapping activities. Schedules play a key role in coordination of these activities. A general contractor or a construction manager is usually responsible for coordination and has a master schedule that covers the scope of the entire project. The individual participants have different project management objectives and build schedules for their scope of work using different breakdown structures, different levels of detail, different scheduling software and different naming conventions. Existing scheduling techniques and software provide a robust set of constructs to generate these individual schedules. However, coordination of these schedules is a manual iterative task not adequately supported by existing theories and software tools. The primary aim of this research was to provide a framework to enable analysis across distributed heterogeneous schedules. The framework presented in this dissertation, schedule mappings, provides a set of constructs to dynamically link individual participant schedules to the master schedule. The schedule mappings approach uses the linked schedules to facilitate schedule coordination by rapid identification of scheduling conflicts. This identification enables rapid initial coordination of schedules and supports assessment of scheduling alternatives in response to a schedule change. A software tool was developed using Microsoft Visual Basic[trademark] programming language as a Shared Addin for Microsoft Project[trademark]. This dissertation contributes to state of the art of scheduling by providing a framework for reasoning across multiple schedules. From an industry perspective, this research makes a contribution by formalizing identification of scheduling conflicts. The formalisms and the tool should help industry professionals in rapid assessment of scheduling alternatives. The tool enabled the use of the schedule mappings approach by industry professionals and was used for validation. The approach was validated in a two step process and was shown to be beneficial.