An Overview of the Schedule Compliance Risk Assessment Methodology (SCRAM)
Image Credit: Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI)

Posted: February 10, 2016 | By: Adrian Pitman, Elizabeth K. Clark, Brad Clark, Angela Tuffley

Schedule slippage is an unfortunate reality for many large development programs. The Australian Defence Materiel Organisation Schedule Compliance Risk Assessment Methodology (SCRAM) provides a framework for identifying and communicating the root causes of schedule slippage and recommendations for going forward to Program and Executive-level management. It is based on a repeatable process that uses a root cause analysis of schedule slippage model to locate factors that impact program schedule along with a “health check” of the documented schedule, assessing its preparation and probability distribution of completion dates. SCRAM can be used at the commencement of a program to validate a proposed schedule and identify potential risks, during program execution as a “health check”, or as a diagnostic tool to identify root causes when schedule slippage occurs. To date, SCRAM has been applied to a number of major development acquisition programs in Australia and the United States. According to one documented report, seventy-eight percent of US Department of Defense Programs have experienced some form of schedule slippage [1]. Schedule slippage is a symptom of any number of problems or causes occurring on a project. Examples include:

Optimistic, unrealistic estimates Conflicting views among stakeholders
Evolving or unstable requirements Poor subcontractor performance
Use of immature technology Dependencies not realized and/or often not scheduled
Poor monitoring of changing workloads Poor quality work leading to unanticipated
or unplanned rework
Incurring Technical Debt with no plans to repay Inadequate staffing
Lack of adequate planning and preparation for System Integration Artificially imposed deadlines
Poorly constructed schedules Lack of Technical Progression
Poor management communication Lower than estimated productivity

Trying to identify root causes of schedule slippage is not always easy but is necessary if schedule slippage is to be remedied and managed.

This paper introduces the Schedule Compliance Risk Assessment Methodology (SCRAM) used by the Australian Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) to identify and quantify risk to schedule compliance. SCRAM is an assessment approach and product suite developed by the authors and funded by the Australian DMO to facilitate remediation of troubled acquisition projects.

This paper describes the Root Cause Analysis of Schedule Slippage (RCASS) model used in SCRAM. Next the techniques used in SCRAM to estimate the most likely schedule completion date are discussed; these include Monte Carlo Schedule Risk Analysis and Parametric Software Modeling. Finally the methodology for collecting, organizing and communicating information is briefly described.

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