A construction schedule is a critical part of project management that can make or break your company’s success. Given how many different people and factors are involved in any building project and how many other things can go wrong, keeping your project on track and sticking to your schedule is one way to ensure smooth and seamless project delivery. Putting in time in the beginning to make a detailed, realistic timeline will pay off many times, so it is essential to do it right from the start.
Every step should be mapped out, from the work breakdown structure and activities to the simple tasks. You can prioritize your activities and check which ones are critical for completion to allocate the correct cost, time, or charge. In this article, let us discuss how to improve your construction schedule, the impacts of a delayed project, and five tips to help you keep your project on track.
What is a Construction Schedule, and Why is it Important?
Every project, regardless of its industry, has a plan for how it will be built and when it will be completed. This is what a construction schedule will show – the activities needed in a specific time frame and what resources are needed. The project team should access the schedule at any given time, so everyone can take charge of their specific tasks and ensure it is completed on time.
As a project manager, you need to consider putting the proposed parts in place while keeping the integrity of the design. To make a good construction schedule, having a clear idea of the proposed scope of work and the details that affect how each part fits together is the first step. The schedule should be set up so that each contractor or subcontractor working on different tasks can be as efficient and productive as possible.
What Are the Steps to Creating an Efficient Construction Schedule?
You might wonder how to create a construction schedule that works well for your project. In this section, let’s look at the seven essential steps to making a construction schedule.
Know Everything About the Project
Researching everything about your project can help you see how the whole project fits together. To determine the project’s needs, you will need to meet with your team and get their valuable insights. Talking to essential people, like your stakeholders, and getting as much information as possible about the client’s needs, the architect’s vision, building code restrictions, site conditions, and resources will help you make a more realistic schedule. This step will ensure that the project’s deliverables are clear and that the schedule is reasonable.
Research and Gather Information from Your Team
For this second step, you know what the key stakeholders want, so you should talk to all your subcontractors and trade partners to get their input. This will give you more important information about your schedule. So once you have a list of subcontractors, coordinate with each one to find out how long they think specific tasks will take and if they know of any problems with supply or installation. You can also take note of the best tools, methods, and professional tips, as these could come in handy in the future.
Make a Detailed List of All Activities and Tasks
The next step is to make a detailed list of what needs to be done. At this point, your schedule starts to take shape. Take note of your scope, then break it down into activities and further into workable tasks and sub tasks. Add all the essential details like the amount of labor, materials, construction equipment, and machinery that will be required, and an estimate of how long each step will take. This way, your schedule will be more realistic since it is based on the detailed list of tasks you make at this point.
Determine All Possible Causes of the Delay
In the construction industry, delays are expected. Things like bad weather, misunderstandings, and late deliveries can significantly affect your project. Even though the information gathered in the first steps showed some constraints and dependencies, construction project risks must be identified separately.
Construction risk is anything that could go wrong with the project’s outcome, budget, or schedule. So, you must find and evaluate these risks and build protections and backup plans into your schedule.
Invest in a Construction Scheduling Tool
A good improvement in construction management practices today is using digital tools. Finding the right one for your organization might take some research and trial and error, but it can pay off if you utilize it well. With this, you can quickly see the correct information to focus on the project’s most critical parts.
Finalize the Project Scope
When you finally get the information, figure out the risks, and choose the right tool for scheduling, the next step is to finalize your project scope to ensure that nothing is left out. The project scope is a document that lists all the goals, deliverables, milestones, tasks, and responsibilities.
Create a Timeline for All Activities and Tasks
Now that the scope is set, everything will now come together. You can now set due dates for all tasks to get which ones are critical and should be prioritized. Each job is written down and put in order of importance. These milestones can be used as checkpoints to keep track of your projects against your baselines.
Update Your Construction Schedule Regularly
As stated earlier, construction projects are prone to delays. Even if you come prepared with all those contingency plans, it is only natural that construction projects and their schedules will change. As a result, the plan must be looked at and often altered to account for changes and reduce risks.
You need to keep an eye on how things are going and do something if a task is delayed. When project milestones are met on time, they show how far the project has come. Construction technology, like software, can help you keep track of, review, and change the schedule and make it easier to lead your project to success.
What are the Consequences of Delayed Construction Projects?
When construction projects are delayed, the owner, contractor, and other stakeholders can lose a lot of money, time, and effort in a chain reaction. When an owner causes a delay, it can be hard to figure out how much the damage is. Why? Because a lot of a contractor’s costs will have to be split between different projects. They might need money to cover some of their overhead costs, but construction companies do not usually break down overhead costs by project. In this section, let us look at the significant impacts of a delayed project.
Extended Project Cost Overheard
This category includes various costs that are directly related to the project because they are needed to support the work on the job site. If there are delays, these costs can go up. These things include renting a field office and equipment, hiring project managers, supervisors, and office workers, getting a car for the field office, and paying for electricity, water, sewer use, and supplies. Cost allocation is also needed when a delay means more supervision, equipment, reporting, quality control, and planning.
Indirect Overhead Costs
These claims are not directly related to the project’s cost but more to the cost of doing the business. However, these things cannot be directly charged to a particular project, so they often cause disagreements. Some examples are salaries, general and administrative costs, insurance, and taxes. Even though these are not directly related to the project, any slowdown can make it hard for the contractor to make money and cause margins to shrink.
Depending on the situation, a contractor could also ask for other damages, such as lost productivity and injuries, for the cost of doing business to go up. Even though a contractor usually risks the costs of labor, equipment, and materials during a project, they could be entitled to compensation if delays cause them to work longer hours. However, a contractor’s damages may be limited if managers knew about the delay but didn’t take steps to limit the damage.
Five Strategies to Keep Your Project Within Time Constraints
Keeping your construction projects on track to meet your deadline is always easier. Things like bad weather, expensive rework, lack of resources, and subcontractors who do not show up are risks that can completely throw your schedule off. Missing your deadline can damage your profit and ruin your construction company’s reputation. In line with this, here are five strategies you can do to keep your projects on track:
Go Over Every Project Detail
The first step to keeping your project on track is to go over every detail of the scope of work. You can review the construction drawings, spec book, and other project documents carefully and make sure you understand them. You can make a better project schedule if you know the project documents like the back of your hand.
Use site drawings to set up the job site so it works best by figuring out where to put materials, equipment, and work areas. You can also utilize information from past projects to ensure you give each activity and task enough time and money. You can also ask for helpful feedback or suggestions from your team members to make your processes as efficient and effective as possible.
Create a Master and a Milestone Schedule
To finish your project on time, you must make a schedule showing you how to do everything. Divide it into stages and break it down into tasks.
When making a schedule, you give each task or activity an estimated start and end date, resources, people, and tools you need to complete them on time. You can utilize construction innovation techniques, involve your subcontractors, and add their schedules to your master schedule to ensure that all trades can work together smoothly.
Prepare Contingency Plans
So many things can go wrong with a project. Review your schedule carefully and look for possible risks that could throw off your plans. Adding contingencies can go a long way toward preventing risks from getting out of hand.
You can add more hours, hire more people, or get more tools to ensure the project is back on track after a weather delay. Talk to the rest of the project team about possible delays to the program and be ready.
Ensure Constant Communication and Collaboration
Keeping projects on track and finishing them successfully depends on how well people talk to each other. Set up ways, like construction scheduling software, for your team to let you know when they are falling behind or taking longer than expected. Good communication and ensuring everyone is on the same page are essential to working together. This will allow you to begin making changes to your schedule before the problems become too big to handle and cause you to miss your deadline.
Keep A Close Eye on Your Project’s Progress
Pay special attention to activities and tasks that went over time or were finished ahead of schedule. Try to figure out why your schedule does not match these differences. Reviewing the daily reports can help you figure out where you are falling behind on your project. This lets you get better at planning and scheduling for future projects and compare how this project is going to how similar projects have gone in the past.