By: Felix Soto Morales

Several months ago, I started to write these posts (articles or however you might call them) in order to help people involved in Project Controls to improve their jobs in the construction sector, which is the one I am involved into.  Sharing knowledge is one of the things I really enjoy.  I didn’t know this, months ago.

I realized during these months that english speakers are more interested in these technical topics than spanish speakers. This is why -and in spite of my limited english (IELTS average 7, not too bad really)- I have decided to start writing my posts in english.  I wish this don’t represent a problem for our friends who have enjoyed the posts in spanish until today.

Now let’s get into this week’s topic: The use or not of intelligent activity IDs.

First of all, what is to give intelligence to an activity ID?

The identifier of the activity could be a number or group of characters alphanumeric or not. We say there is no intelligence for example in the table below:


Notice that in this list, the activity ID is just a sequence of numbers, the increment could be 1 or 10, but still without meaning for the schedule.  It tells us nothing.

Now, let’s make a little but significant change:


Although the logic and the structure of the schedule is the same (same finish date, logic, constraints, critical path, etc.); now, it is possible to understand through the activity ID what it is about.

In this case for example, the first three digits means the phase of the project:

ENG for Engineering

PRO for Procurement

CON for Construction

COM for Commissioning

The next three digits have a meaning also and they refers to the speciality:

ARC for Architectural

CIV for Civil

MEC for Mechanical

GEN for General

The next digits don’t have any meaning in the activity ID, they are just numbers sequenced.

But… How is this helpful?

The view or layout most used when presenting schedules is -with no doubt- the grouping by WBS.  Sometimes, when the schedulers want to point out something else, they use activity codes in order to have other alternatives for grouping.  For example, if your WBS structure that does not contain speciality, you can add an activity code called “speciality” and add their values to each activity and then group.  However, sometimes the layout requires a “clean” presentation, with no much grouping as could be one for analyze the critical path or grouping for activities to do each week.  In these cases, is important to identify and recognize the activity, and having a good ID is beneficial.

Another use for well defined Activity IDs, for me, is when I’m tracing the logic of activities, I prefer to use the network view (sometimes called Pert view) where you can only view the “box” that represent the activity.  It becomes easy to trace the logic in this layout especially when you recognize the activity very well.


Finally, remember the importance of the activity IDs in most softwares, it is unique, it is the index from which all the other data join: start and finish dates, durations, costs, logic, calendars and so on.  This ID becomes the “security social number” of the activity and every thing is related to it. Having intelligence in the ID is not mandatory but very helpful.

Thank you so much, and take a look at our website for other posts or tutorials.

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