Forecasting project progress and early warning of project overruns with probabilistic methods
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Forecasting is a critical component of project management. Project managers must be able to make reliable predictions about the final duration and cost of projects starting from project inception. Such predictions need to be revised and compared with the project’s objectives to obtain early warnings against potential problems. Therefore, the effectiveness of project controls relies on the capability of project managers to make reliable forecasts in a timely manner. This dissertation focuses on forecasting project schedule progress with probabilistic methods. Currently available methods, for example, the critical path method (CPM) and earned value management (EVM) are deterministic and fail to account for the inherent uncertainty in forecasting and project performance. The objective of this dissertation is to improve the predictive capabilities of project managers by developing probabilistic forecasting methods that integrate all relevant information and uncertainties into consistent forecasts in a mathematically sound procedure usable in practice. In this dissertation, two probabilistic methods, the Kalman filter forecasting method (KFFM) and the Bayesian adaptive forecasting method (BAFM), were developed. The KFFM and the BAFM have the following advantages over the conventional methods: (1) They are probabilistic methods that provide prediction bounds on predictions; (2) They are integrative methods that make better use of the prior performance information available from standard construction management practices and theories; and (3) They provide a systematic way of incorporating measurement errors into forecasting. The accuracy and early warning capacity of the KFFM and the BAFM were also evaluated and compared against the CPM and a state-of-the-art EVM schedule forecasting method. Major conclusions from this research are: (1) The state-of-the-art EVM schedule forecasting method can be used to obtain reliable warnings only after the project performance has stabilized; (2) The CPM is not capable of providing early warnings due to its retrospective nature; (3) The KFFM and the BAFM can and should be used to forecast progress and to obtain reliable early warnings of all projects; and (4) The early warning capacity of forecasting methods should be evaluated and compared in terms of the timeliness and reliability of warning in the context of formal early warning systems.
Kim, Byung Cheol (2007). Forecasting project progress and early warning of project overruns with probabilistic methods. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from