Investing in Efficiency
Delay analysis is often seen as an expensive and labour-intensive process, requiring a lot of manual effort. However, there are things that can be done to reduce that labour-intensive process and reduce the cost to those needing the services of a delay expert. We take a look here at Acumen Fuse, just one of the tools that help us support you, and ensure our work is as efficient as possible.
Chronos Consult use Deltek’s Acumen Fuse to provide our clients with swift analytical information and improved schedule/programme quality. The software is essentially a tool which allows tasks that might otherwise be undertaken manually through a long, and laborious process, to be automated.
There are a number of basic checks that have to be undertaken when carrying out a forensic analysis of a construction programme. Checking for ‘open ends’ is one example: open ends are found where activities have no subsequent connected activity, and have the potential distort the programme. Chronos’ use of Acumen Fuse allows us to remove much of this time consuming process, improving its accuracy by harnessing the power of the software to carry out these checks.
Through Acumen Fuse, Chronos can:
- Analyse programmes to be used in forensic and delay analysis.
- Assess the technical quality or compliance of a Critical Path Method (CPM) schedule.
- Adapt the customisable metric analysis to suit each client’s requirements.
- Use the system to perform comparisons and scenarios.
- Evaluate logic density and schedule robustness in order to:
- Forensically trace the ‘Cause’ of a delay (an automated version of ‘follow the asterisk’ in Primavera).
- Rapidly identify changes and updates to multiple versions or snapshots of a project.
One concern that many may have with such a system is that of putting trust in a ‘black box’ or lack of reliability. However, we can have confidence in the system as a result of a number of tests and standards that are in place, to which Fuse conforms. Acumen Fuse measures against a range of metrics including domestic and internationally recognised standards, such as:
- The (United States) Defence Contract Management Agency [DCMA]’s 14-point Assessment (an example of this is shown below),
- The Government Accountability Office [GAO]’s Scheduling Best Practices, or
- The National Defence Industrial Association [NDIA].
As well as being tested against the leading industry standards, Acumen Fuse provides the agility and flexibility needed to serve our clients’ specific needs and requests.
Acumen Fuse – The Basics
So what exactly does it do?
Acumen Fuse is more than just a programme or schedule analyser. It uses libraries of metrics to provide a unique insight into how to improve the integrity of project plans and improve execution strategies. As highlighted above, in the past, the exercise has typically been undertaken by planners or schedulers manually. The process can be extremely time consuming. However, Acumen Fuse can run the same analysis in seconds and instantly highlight weaknesses, whilst also removing the margin for human error.
The screenshot below provides an example of Fuse in action demonstrating:
- The overall performance of the schedule measured, and
- A breakdown of the programme’s quality per quarter.
The schedule performance is measured by parameters set in the software which can be tailored to suit the specific needs of or clients and their projects. The principles of this are similar to some of the principles outlined in the ‘system dynamics’ paper written a few years ago by Ralph Goodchild of White and Case. A user of Acumen Fuse can define parameters or metrics by which a programme or schedule are judged and the system will then return a set of results based upon those parameters or metrics.
Acumen Fuse allows a wide variety of file types to be imported to it, allowing various programme/schedule software tools to work with the system. These include the usual suspects: Primavera, MS Project, Powerproject, and MS Excel, among others.
In fact, a single Acumen Fuse workbook can:
- Contain one or more projects from any of the supported platforms,
- Analyse any combination of the identified softwares, or
- Analyse multiple projects together, performing a comparison analysis of change, as identified in the extract below.
Acumen Fuse – Reporting
Acumen Fuse does not compete with or replace the need for any of the scheduling software tools mentioned. It is quite the opposite. Acumen Fuse adds to these platforms by providing additional insight through metric analysis.
Acumen Fuse offers multiple report types to suit the audience. The main report outputs are:
- Executive Briefing: A high-level synopsis of overall project status, characteristic descriptions, schedule quality analysis and resolution recommendations.
- Analyst Report: An in-depth “to-do” list of analysis results, with a detailed view of project quality and schedule strength, either over a period of time or by ‘ribbons’ (activity groupings).
- Dashboard: An interactive summary of project status, schedule quality and analysis results, all integrated into a single view. The Acumen Fuse dashboard is configurable to display multiple metrics options as charts, graphs, or gauges.
- API Custom Reports: A flexible means of extracting analysis results directly into third-party custom reports or external applications. Acumen Fuse’s Application Programming Interface [API] lets you generate custom reports or publish directly to web-based services and applications, portals such as Microsoft SharePoint, or third-party tools.
Chronos and Acumen Fuse
At Chronos Consult we provide Acumen Fuse as an additional function to service your live planning, delay and forensic planning requirements. It allows us to analyse issues and produce reports quickly, to efficiently to inform you of potential problems, saving time over traditional approaches and processes.
If you’d like to find out more about how Acumen Fuse can help you save time and money in the preparation and management of construction programmes, get in touch with us today.
Matt Lindsay, March 2021.