SSI’s IPMDAR Schedule Performance Dataset (SPD) Tool will allow you to create the files needed to satisfy the IPMDAR’s SPD requirement. Our initial version is easy to use and runs out of an excel workbook. All that you need to do is fill out the cells in the workbook with the required data, pick your project, and let the tool run. The output will be a zip file containing all necessary SPD files. We are providing a free download of our tool to all those who join one of our training sessions on it. You can sign up for a training session here. In the near future this tool will come built in to SSI Tools for Microsoft Project. For more information on what the new IPMDAR requirement is and how it impacts your schedule files, continue reading this article. Note – this article only focuses on the schedule reporting requirements outlined in the IPMDAR.

What is IPMDAR and How Does it Affect My Project?

In March 2020, the Defense Department (OUSD/AAP) began the roll out of the Integrated Program Management Data and Analysis Report (IPMDAR) – see the Data Item Description (DID) Number: DI-MGMT-81861B here. If your project started after March 12, 2020 and has an Earned Value (EV) reporting requirement, you may be required to provide cost and schedule performance data in accordance with the IPMDAR.  Additionally, with a bilateral agreement between the contractor and the government Program Office, the IPMDAR may be applied to projects that started before March 2020.

The biggest change in the IPMDAR requirement is how the schedule data is submitted to the customer. contractors with projects that have the IPMDAR requirement applied will need to submit what the Defense Department calls The Schedule Performance Dataset (SPD). According to the IPMDAR DID: “The SPD is a collection of JSON encoded data tables capturing the detailed task and schedule metrics, task relationships, and resource assignments tables. Since the Contract Performance Dataset (CPD) data report is now required at the Control Account (CA) or Work Package (WP) levels, the task definitions within the SPD must now be correctly encoded against the CA or WP data included in the corresponding CPD submission. This critical improvement enhances the ability to support integrated cost/schedule analysis.”

What are JSON files?

JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) is a standard file format. The purpose of the requirement for contractors to provide data in the JSON format is to facilitate the exchange of integrated master schedule (IMS) data between the contractor and the government regardless of which scheduling software is used. The JSON file format is the same regardless of your use of Microsoft Project or any other scheduling software.  You can see a description of the file format specification for the 19 JSON files that together provide Contract, Program, Calendar, Task, Task Constraints, Task Dependencies, Task Hierarchy, Resource and Resource Assignment data.

Do I Need to do Anything Different In my Schedule File so the Tool can Generate the SPD files?

If you have not worked on Earned Value projects with the Integrated Program Management Report (IPMR) requirement applied, you will need to make sure that you properly set up your project for IPMDAR reporting. This involves reserving task fields to create vertical traceability between tasks in your schedule and contract documents such as the Contract Work Breakdown Structure (CWBS), Statement of Work (SOW), Integrated Master Plan (IMP), etc. You will also need to make sure you properly code tasks with an Earned Value Technique (EVT) for proper EV reporting. A detailed breakdown of how to set up your project is available here.

Alternatively, if you have worked on earned value projects with the IPMR requirement in the past, the answer is not really assuming you are already accustomed to establishing vertical traceability in your schedule. Depending on customer requirements you may need to reserve and populate a separate task field to identify if a task is Risk Mitigation, Schedule Visibility, Schedule Margin, or a Contractual Milestone. Aside from that there will not be any major changes to the way you have been managing schedule files in MS Project. Again, a detailed breakdown of how to set up a project for IPMDAR reporting is available here.