Regardless of its industry, any project is most likely to fail if no efficient and effective project plan or schedule is defined during its early stages. Planning and scheduling in construction play a significant role in making or breaking your project’s success. Essentially, a construction plan guides the clients, project managers, and contractors throughout the construction projects and overviews the relevant policies, processes, and procedures decided and agreed upon by every stakeholder. It defines the project baseline – cost, scope, time, and quality into a detailed timeline that dictates how the project will progress. In a nutshell, proper planning and scheduling specify resources, risks, and communications into a productive operational workflow.
Creating a comprehensive construction plan can streamline and optimize your project, ensuring successful outcomes. However, no two construction projects are the same, and project managers need to plan according to each unique project’s demands and requirements. This article explains what construction planning is, why it is essential, how to create your plan, and several strategies to strengthen your construction planning process.
What is Construction Planning?
Construction planning is the first stage of project management that maps out the processes, materials, labor, resources, budget, and schedules from conception to completion. A construction planner’s job is to create a plan for completing a construction project based on the budget, work schedule, and available resources. They can also make organizational decisions, such as deciding which subcontractors to hire for a given project.
In a nutshell, construction planning is a highly complex task in itself. The project manager or a construction planner is frequently in charge of planning, with input from stakeholders and labor crews. All phases of the construction management process should be covered by planning, including:
- Project Timelines and Scheduling
- Activity and Task Management
- Crew and Staffing Assignments
- Project Monitoring and Quality Control
- Budget Control and Contract Management
What Are the Types of Construction Project Planning?
The goal of construction planning is the same for all projects, regardless of size, scope, or complexity. Every stakeholder, from the owner, developer and project manager to the general contractor and sub-contractor, strives to meet deadlines, budgets, and safety requirements while maintaining a high quality standard. By clarifying every team member’s function and responsibility, a construction plan lays out a good framework for open communication, close collaboration, and solid relationships.
A construction master plan is created during the construction planning process that details everything about the project. A comprehensive construction master plan should include strategic planning, operational planning, and scheduling, which is defined below:
Strategic planning results in a construction delivery plan that determines, sets, and articulates that project objectives through the specific guidelines specified in the contract. It answers the big questions about a project’s mission, how it will achieve it, and how these objectives fit into the larger strategy of the project sponsor or owner. In short, strategic planning gives the stakeholders high project visibility through a clear overview.
While strategic planning gives an overview of the project, operational planning provides all the nitty-gritty details of completing the project successfully. It involves the construction teams coming together with detailed plans to meet the strategic goals by evaluating whether they have the resources they need to meet the strategic objectives and identifying any shortfalls or possible risks.
Scheduling details the operational plan on a timetable, including the expected start and finish dates. This type of planning involves laying out the relationships of one activity to another and creating a feasible schedule based on the sequences of the tasks.
Why is Construction Planning Important?
Construction planning that is specific and put together ahead of time ensures efficiency and productivity, allowing you and the project team to control quality measures and manage resource allocation in each construction phase. Planning can assist in ensuring that the project meets the needs of all stakeholders and provides quality assurance in all of these areas. It may also save time and money by allowing stakeholders to understand their material and labor options before purchasing, compare options, and avoid unexpected delays.
How to Create an Efficient Construction Plan?
Often, most people define planning as just scheduling construction projects. However, a project plan is more than that. From the timeline, resources, financial, and quality planning, the construction plan dictates how the project will progress from start to finish. In this section, let us define seven steps included in the construction planning process.
The first step to the construction planning process is to map out all the activities and tasks required, including the project milestones. You will be defining your work breakdown structures (WBS) which detail the activity interdependencies, task networks, critical paths, and schedule.
Resource and Inventory Planning
Next, you will plan out all the materials, labor, and equipment that will be used in the project, when it will be needed and how much. The resource and inventory plan are essential for calculating costs and budgets. This critical step ensures that you will always have the right number of resources at any given time. Using construction inventory software is a good tool that allows you to have a bird’s eye view of the status of all your resources.
A procurement plan describes where and how you will obtain the materials and services required for the project. Preparing resource specifications methods, preparing procurement schedules, budgeting resources, and preventing waste are all part of procurement planning. The project schedule is used in procurement planning to ensure that the right resources are available at the right time.
Financial and Budget Planning
The financial plan of a project is closely related to its resource plan, in which it details all the direct and indirect costs that will be consumed throughout the project. As the construction industry is prone to unforeseen delays, it should also include a contingency plan to prevent much bigger roadblocks.
Quality Assurance and Quality Control Planning
A quality assurance and quality control plan details all agreed-upon standards for project deliverables. It also describes how you will maintain quality and what steps you will take if the quality of deliverables does not meet standards. It plays a big factor in customer satisfaction and contractor liability.
Risk Management Planning
The risk management plan describes the risks to which a project may be exposed and discusses how to eliminate, mitigate, or address the risks identified as significant by risk analysis. It contains contingency plans to respond to these risks once they become a reality. Common construction risks include increasing costs, inclement weather, or late inventory deliveries.
Punchlist and Acceptance Planning
A punch list and acceptance plan outline all project deliverables and the customer acceptance criteria. It ensures transparency during the turnover process and prevents clients from adding new deliverable specifications, leading to additional time, effort, and cost.
Five Tips on Planning Your Construction Project
Project managers and contractors must ensure that their schedules coincide with the completion date in every project. As discussed early, there are many advantages that you can get from proper planning. This section contains five tips for ensuring an efficient and optimized construction planning process.
Using an all-in-one construction software that offers scheduling, crew management, and inventory management can aid you in having a clear view of all of the elements required to develop an execution framework. A software enables you to communicate with team members, keep owners and clients up to date, track shipments, monitor progress, and make strategic notes with just a few simple clicks. Whether on-site or at the office, you can get all the relevant data on most electronic devices at a glance.
Focus On Open Communication and Close Collaboration
Open communication and close collaboration ensure that everyone – from the owner, supplier, contractor the administrative and crew members – is updated and well-informed with the construction plan and how it should progress. To ensure everyone is on the space page, you can set up regular check-ins with all groups at various points throughout the project.
Choose The Right Team for the Job
Assign team members with the necessary experience and skills to complete tasks for your project is essential to save time and money in the long run. One of the most tedious responsibilities of a project manager is to assign a task to the right people to ensure that the project progresses as planned. Get to know your team’s strengths, experience, and expertise to assign them to the right tasks.
Outline Your Project Milestones
Outlining your project milestones throughout the project strengthens the accountability of each team member for their specific assignment. This strategy also gives you a clear idea of how the project is progressing against the planned timelines, and you will be able to review which tasks are falling behind and what could be causing the delay.
Understand Your Project’s Goals
Most construction projects have the same goals: complete the project on time, within budget, and of the highest possible quality. Knowing these goals can help builders and other stakeholders understand their roles in a project and how their pieces fit together. Project managers use these outlines to set initial completion goals during the construction planning process.