May 18, 20233 minute read

Project schedule development at the beginning of FEP-2
Mohamed El-Mehalawi

During the first stage of front-end planning (FEP-1), we developed the overall project Level-1 schedule and cashflow. These two documents together with the estimate go through Gate-1. Of course, there are a lot more documents that show scope overview, execution strategy, and project economics.


Now, the project has passed the first gate and approved to start the rest of front-end planning (FEP). At this stage, schedule requirements will be as follows:

  • FEP-2 work will be a detailed Level-3 schedule.

  • FEP-3 work will be scheduled at Level-2.

  • The rest of the project execution will remain at the conceptual Level-1 schedule.

This is a good opportunity for defining schedule levels. Both project controls and non-project controls teams have different perspectives on what level of schedule contains. The descriptions of different levels are shown below in order to gain as much alignment as possible on the expectation from these schedule levels. These definitions are guided by the AACE Recommended Practice No. 37R-06.

Definition of Schedule Levels

Level-1 Schedule

The purpose of level 1 schedule is to plan what-if scenarios and capture the main project scope to getehr with its constraints and execution strategy. it is useally a simple Gantt chart but allows nultiple scenaios for the purpose of optimization. level 1 schedule also helps in developing and planning cashflow.

  • Major project milestones and constraints.
  • Overall timing of the major project functions.
  • Initial start and finish dates for all stages of the project.
  • Known scope breakdown by area or by piece of major equipment
  • Engineering, procurement and construction activities for every scope breakdown shown as summary.

Level 2 Schedule

The purpose of level 2 schedule is to communicate the integration of work throughout the life cycle of the project (AACE RP 37R-06). Level 2 schedule provides a high-level interface between key deliverables and project participants (owners, contractors, consultants). The requirements for level 2 schedule are:

  • Cover the full Project Scope of Work.
  • Major project milestones and constraints.
  • Each level 1 scope component will be further broken down. For example, the infrastructure component of the project will be divided into roads, gas, electricity, fiber optics, water, waste water, etc. For each of the similar sub-scope breakdowns, the following activities will be shown on as summary activities:
    • Bid and award sequence for subcontracted work.

    • Major and/or long lead purchasing activities.

    • Construction Contracting strategy, e.g., initial timing at a summary level for foundations contract, general mechanical contract, etc.

Level-3 Schedule

Expansion of the Level 2 Schedule activities. Activities should be resource loaded and with durations detailed enough to provide critical path calculation and identify the critical path. Combining the literature from different sources (like the government requirements, AACE, CII), a level 3 activity (task) would represent the work planned to consume between 500 and 1000 manhours. Requirements of a Level 3 Schedule are:

  • Schedule reflects the full project scope of work in details.
  • All constraints such as permitting, weather, operation requirements, etc. will be detailed in level 3 schedules.
  • Engineering deliverables are shown at the detailed task level. engineering delivrables may be presented by engineering packges which would contain a set of engineering documents to be used for purchasing or construction.
  • All integration points between design disciplines, procurement and construction are included in the CPM logic
  • Each IFC (Issue for Construction) package, IFB (Issue for Bid) and award cycle for each construction contract will be simulated.
  • Detail design packages are organized by construction breakdown so that physical progress for the work leading to each specific construction contract can be objectively measured.
  • All Contractor reviews, including discipline reviews prior to IFC package quality checks will be included
  • All Owner reviews and approval cycles as applicable
  • Details for all purchasing activities.
  • Detailed construction tasks required to complete interim and final contract completion milestones.
  • Construction is organized by scope breakdown, initially, with specific details for completing work by area
  • Level 3 schedules will also be used to prepare 3-week look ahead schedules.

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