Project Management Institute

Measuring delay

introducing a "pseudo resource" -- delay -- can clarify your project schedule


Introducing a “pseudo resource”—Delay—can clarify your project schedule.

By Sriram Rajagopalan, PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, PMP

PROJECT MANAGERS often face one major question from stakeholders: “Is your project on schedule?”

Schedule slips are a particular concern in healthcare marketing. In the U.S., healthcare organizations’ marketing deliverables—including print or online advertisements, surveys and reports—must go through an intense review by a regulatory board. This board, made up of medical, legal and regulatory members, reviews the content and functionality prior to its submission to the Food and Drug Administration for approval to distribute. Projects may experience unexpected delays because of these external stakeholders. So how can project managers evaluate the cost of these delays and proactively manage resource productivity?

I imagine the source of the delay as a “pseudo resource”—a fictitious person—named Delay. Anytime there is an unanticipated regulatory delay, instead of updating the duration of the review task, I introduce a new task, called delay. I list the cause and duration of the delay and assign the task to the Delay pseudo resource. This approach ensures that any rebaselining of the project schedule doesn't extend the original review task, indicating inefficient client management skills on the project manager's part.

Anytime there is an unanticipated regulatory delay, instead of updating the duration of the review task, I introduce a new task, called delay.



When such delay tasks are introduced in the work breakdown structure, the project manager can generate reports that measure the difference between actual finish and baseline finish days in the network diagram, and then subtract the duration associated with the delays. This allows the project manager to manage client expectations during the delay cycle and reset the expectations for the new finish date. Simultaneously, the project manager can reassign resources earlier during the delay period to other projects, with requests for them to return when tasks are coming out of the delay cycle. Neither fast-tracking nor crashing is required—just proactive planning to minimize the impact of resource changes.

For the project management office (PMO), the benefits are even greater. By computing the percentage of slip with the delays over the project duration, we can figure out how much the delay impacted the project. For example, imagine the baseline finish date originally was on 15 May 2015, with a project duration of 60 days. The actual finish was 2 June 2015, including a five-day regulatory review associated with the Delay pseudo resource. The schedule slipped by 11 business days. The cost of delay to the project is 18 percent (11/60). On the other hand, by using this approach factoring in the five-day delay, the schedule slipped by six days (11-5), and the cost of delay is only 10 percent (6/60).

In other words, Cost of Delay (%) = (Actual Finish – Baseline Finish – Delay Duration) / (Total Project Duration).

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By seeing patterns—whether delays arise from a particular type of project or from regulatory reviews, specific project managers or team members—the PMO can hold early lessons-learned sessions. In addition, the report can be used to see how many projects are slipping, giving indications on inefficient resource management practices, ambiguous tasks and roles creating unnecessary productivity loss, and opportunities for process enhancements. Using integrated change control, the impact of these delay costs can be identified and mitigated by proper risk management discipline. PM

img Sriram Rajagopalan, PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, PMP, is vice president of the program management office (PMO) at Physicians Interactive, Reading, Massachusetts, USA and founder of Agile Training Champions.
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