Benchmarking of Scheduling Standards and Practices

against GAO Best Practices for Project Schedules



By Tijo Kurian

India and Libya




In oil and gas industry projects, the problem is to produce a class schedule for measuring the performance of projects. The purpose of this paper is to select appropriate standards for future reference in adopting best practices in scheduling. In the analysis, various standards across the globe, company standards, and contractors scheduling practices benchmarked against GAO Schedule Assessment Guide.  A scoring model developed by using Multi Attributes Decision Making (MADM) Non-compensatory and compensatory method on the basis of the GAO Schedule Assessment Guide. From the analysis it’s found that GAO Schedule Assessment Guide is superior to the other standards and practices. The recommendation from this paper is that the practices from GAO Schedule Assessment Guide can be adopted to prepare and maintain a quality, reliable schedule in projects. Owners can ensure these practices were followed in their projects by adopting the standards as scheduling specifications in the contractual documents.

Keywords: Best practices in scheduling, GAO Schedule Assessment Guide, Project Schedule, Scoring Models, Multi-attribute Decision Making, activities


“Owners continue to experience project failures, 53% suffered one or more underperforming projects in the previous year. For energy and natural resources and public sector respondents, the figures were 71% and 90%, respectively. Only 31% of all respondents’ projects came within 10% of the budget in the past 3 years. Just 25% of projects came within 10% of their original deadlines in the past 3 years”[1]. Developing a feasible project schedule is challenging due to many factors. In oil and gas, the projects are delaying due to various reasons and one of the major reasons that the contractor may not produce a feasible project schedule that should not comply with the best practices in scheduling. Hence the contractor loses the opportunity for forecasting and predictive manners. This happens due to a lack of awareness and usage of best practices in scheduling. The author in this paper tried to overcome such circumstances made by the contractors and give the awareness about the best practices which to be followed for the preparation and maintaining the schedule. There are many standards and references available for the standardization of project schedules in that the GAO Schedule Assessment Guide seems the best to compare the schedules with the best practices and adopt for the preparation of the schedules. To overcome such situations and make aware of the contractors the importance of implementing the best practices in scheduling for the schedule development. To substantiate the facts four project schedules have been selected for the assessment with the best practices in GAO Schedule Assessment Guide.

The GAO Schedule Assessment Guide provides ten best practices to develop and maintain a reliable and high-quality schedule for the smooth execution of projects. In appendix II, the guide has provided a detailed audit questionnaire that can exclusively use for the audit of the schedule, and thereby, the health of the schedule can be determined. GAO concluded with the “four characteristics required for a reliable and high-quality schedule that it should be comprehensive, well-constructed, credible and controlled.” As per GAO;


“A comprehensive schedule includes all activities for both the government and its contractors necessary to accomplish a program’s objectives as defined in the program’s WBS. The schedule includes the labor, materials, travel, facilities, equipment, and the like needed to do the work and depicts when those resources are needed and when they will be available. It realistically reflects how long each activity will take and allows for discrete progress measurement”[2].


“A schedule is well-constructed if all its activities are logically sequenced with the most straightforward logic possible. Unusual or complicated logic techniques are used judiciously and justified in the schedule documentation. The schedule’s critical path represents a true model of the activities that drive the program’s earliest completion date, and total float accurately depicts schedule flexibility.”


“A schedule is credible if it is horizontally traceable—that is, it reflects the order of events necessary to achieve aggregated products or outcomes. It is also vertically traceable: activities in varying levels of the schedule map to one another and key dates presented to management in periodic briefings are in sync with the schedule. Data about risks are used to predict a level of confidence in meeting the program’s completion date. Necessary schedule contingency and high-priority risks are identified by conducting a robust schedule risk analysis.”


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How to cite this paper: Kurian, T. (2019). Benchmarking of Scheduling Standards and Practices against GAO Best Practices for Project Schedules, PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue X, November. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/pmwj87-Nov2019-Kurian-benchmarking-scheduling-standards-against-gao-best-practices4.pdf



About the Author

Tijo Kurian

India & Libya



Tijo Kurian is a project management professional with over 14 years of experience in upstream and downstream oil and gas projects. He is currently working as a Senior Project Engineer at Waha Oil Company in Libya. He previously worked with Samsung Engineering Co. Ltd, Bilfinger Berger Germany, as Project Control Engineer in various oil and gas projects. He holds a Degree in Mechanical Engineering from MG University, Kottayam and Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from DOTE, Tamil Nadu, India. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from PMI, USA. He is pursuing some other project management/project control credentials from AACE, Guild of Project Controls, and PMI under the tutorage of Dr.  Paul D. Giammalvo, CDT, CCE, MScPM, MRICS, GPM-m Senior Technical Advisor, PT Mitrata Citragaha. Tijo Kurian can be contacted at tijokurien007@gmail.com .


[1] KPMG International. (2015). Climbing the curve. Retrieved from https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/pdf/2015/04/global-construction-survey-2015.pdf

[2] U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2015). GAO Schedule Assessment Guide Best Practices for Project Schedules (148). Author. FOUR CHARACTERISTICS OF A RELIABLE SCHEDULE