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From Wayside to Office
A schedule performance index is a great metric when it comes to getting a snapshot of your rail project’s progress. But maybe it’s not giving you the most complete picture. Today there’s digital technology that can boost your SPI by ensuring it’s based on the most accurate, real-time data.
What’s in a number? More than you might think. Just like miles per gallon indicates fuel efficiency, different numeric values in construction can indicate where things stand in the course of a project. Schedule performance index (SPI) is one of those numbers, telling you how you’re faring in meeting established timelines. In fact, it may be one of the more highly monitored numbers because many weighty decisions are based on what it is saying.
Yet for all the value that is placed on SPI throughout the industry, might we be relying too heavily on a simple numeric value when gauging the timely progress of an entire massive infrastructure build? After all, every metric — in our lives and our industry — can only tell us so much. It begs the question, “Is your SPI telling you the whole story?” The answer is, it depends. Here’s why.
On the other hand, if inaccurate, incomplete, incorrect or late data is used as a basis to calculate your SPI, you’ll wind up with a skewed value. The result could give you a false sense of progress, or it could flag a false warning of a deviation. Each of these can lead to decisions based on bad data. How do you know for sure? One way is to keep an eye on other project performance metrics as well.
However, schedule performance index isn’t the only benchmark contractors and project managers rely on to measure project progress. Other metrics — such as earned value (EV), schedule variance (SV) and critical path method (CPM), for example — can each play a role. Each measures a different aspect of project performance. So if any of those values seem comparatively off the mark, the other metrics alone or combined may be able to fill in the story gaps. It’s like viewing your project from different angles for a more complete picture.
Does this mean you shouldn’t rely on your SPI as heavily as you do? Not at all. It can still serve as a solid guide in helping make those critical schedule-impacting decisions. SPI’s biggest value and relevance may be in detecting trends. And that could make a difference when working on construction projects that are more substantial or complex.
InEight Report is a software tool you can use to provide a more complete 360° view of how much work you’ve accomplished at different points in your project life cycle, including your SPI and related values. Gaining visibility and creating immediate reports using real-time data can help keep all phases of your large-scale projects on track.
Want to see how it works? We’re happy to show you a demo of how it can tell your project story.
This article first appeared on www.railexpress.com.au
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