In today’s intense and competitive construction industry, excellent project planning, efficient management, and reasonable control of your workflow processes are vital to successfully achieving project objectives. Often, the success of a project is defined by how well it is executed on time and within budget without sacrificing quality. However, suppose you are an experienced project manager or have been in the construction industry for quite some time now. In that case, you should know well enough that creating an optimal project schedule is a difficult task in itself. But keeping the project flowing smoothly, seamlessly, and on track is the main challenge when managing construction.
Keeping the project on time and completing it within its target timelines is essential for contractors and subcontractors to maintain a spotless track record and keep cash flows and resources stable. A project manager’s responsibility is to optimize scheduling, tasks delegations, and inventory management to ensure streamlined and efficient workflow processes. Project managers are also bear the burden of managing and resolving any conflicts or issues that might arise throughout the construction duration.
There are various digital tools and software programs available to assist you in conveniently monitoring and automating these complex processes. However, you may run into some conflicts and complications that may result in project delays. Construction projects often consist of large-scale materials and moving parts. A delayed project might result in complete chaos, a disgruntled workforce, a rushed and sloppy outcome, financial consequences, fines, and disappointed customers, to name a few of the worst-case scenarios.
Read this blog to learn what a project schedule is, typical mistakes and conflicts when it comes to scheduling, and a few strategies to help you improve your overall scheduling techniques.
What is a Project Schedule?
The most basic definition of a project schedule is that it is the project’s timetable. It is a compressed file consisting of all activities, tasks, milestones, and project objectives completed within a particular period or by a specific deadline.
Generally speaking, a project schedule is comprised of three phases:
- Determine the project scopes and deliverables, including all activities, work, and materials required
- Determine which crew or individual needs to do the work
- Determine the timelines that it will take to complete the work
What Is the Importance of Scheduling in Project Management for Construction?
Having an efficient and practical project schedule means clearly communicating all the activities that must be completed and clearly defining what resources are required, who will execute the job, and when the work will be completed. It allows you to create a project baseline that every team member can rely on and use as a reference throughout the project’s implementation.
A good schedule provides higher project visibility, putting everyone on the same page whether assigned in the office or the field. Ensuring that all relevant variables are considered, a project schedule helps you avoid severe and significant errors and problems, solving them before they directly impact the overall outcome.
An effective project schedule contributes significantly to the success of a project, the reduction of costs, and the rise in client satisfaction. A successful project is critical to enhancing your positive reputation and increasing overall team satisfaction.
What are the Steps to Create an Effective Project Schedule?
A project schedule is all about clearly defining how to keep your project progressing smoothly and seamlessly while minimizing inefficiencies in the operations and delays in the schedule. Here are seven steps to creating an effective project schedule.
1. Determine Your Project Scope and Deliverables
The first step is to acquire all the necessary data and considerations that can have a significant effect when planning out your schedule. Refer to your project statements so you can have a clear understanding of the project’s scope, deliverables, and goals, resource availability, stakeholder expectations, and proposed schedules.
2. Plan Out Key Milestones and Construction Targets
Defining the key milestones and construction targets at the start of every project is a beneficial strategy to keep the team motivated throughout the project cycle. This valuable information makes aiming for short-term goals more manageable than just aiming for the final project completion targets.
3. Establish Your Work Breakdown Structures
The third step is to establish your work breakdown structures. Create a list of each task that must be completed to finish a project phase and determine the link between each activity. It seems more manageable when large work packages are broken down into smaller tasks. It assures that no vital activity is overlooked. You can identify the target start and end dates for each project activity.
4. Outline Tasks and Figure Out its Dependencies
Next, break down each project activity into smaller, more workable tasks. In construction, tasks are often interconnected with each other. Figuring out your task dependencies can help you determine which tasks are critical for completion.
5. Incorporate Your Inventory Management System
Once you have a clear perception of how your workflow processes will progress, it is essential to incorporate your resources and inventory allocation when planning out your schedule. Suppose your inventory distribution is not planned out well. In that case, it may result in some delays due to the material requirements for each task. It may result in work stoppage and labor unproductivity for a worst-case scenario.
6. Add Contingencies
Any industry is prone to delays and risk, and the construction business is no exception to that fact. Most likely, you will be encountering project risks throughout the course of the construction, so adding contingencies is a great way to prepare for unexpected problems that may arise.
7. Finalize Your Project Schedule
Now that you’ve acquired all your data, you can now create an effective project schedule that is realistic and manageable. Using construction scheduling software is an excellent tool to keep track of the activities and tasks and the overall project progress.
Why Do Project Scheduling Conflicts Occur?
Despite careful planning and meticulous management, unanticipated conflicts may still occur. It is critical to understand why these conflicts develop and recognize them before escalating into a significant issue for the organization. In this section, let us outline the common causes of scheduling conflicts for a construction project.
- Incorrect tasks management and allocation
- Insufficient material, labor, and equipment resource forecasting
- Unforeseen project risks and contingencies
- Incomplete considerations of project scopes and deliverables
- Lack of schedule and project visibility across team members
- Inadequate communication and collaborative effort
How to Avoid Project Scheduling Conflicts in Construction?
As a project manager, you should understand that sometimes, you have no control over any undesirable events that may occur. Scheduling conflicts may seem to be unavoidable. Still, there are several tactics that we may use to minimize the likelihood of such conflicts arising. In this section, we have put up a list of five strategies to avoid these scheduling conflicts.
Aim for a Collaborative Project Task Management
The amount of attention you put into your project’s tasks management will significantly impact its success. Assess the expertise and flaws of your team so that you can allocate employees to the most appropriate tasks. Not only will this increase the workforce productivity, but it will also boost the crew’s morale and efficiencies.
Pay Closer Attention to Resource Allocation
As previously said, resource and inventory management are critical in optimizing work processes and ensuring that every activity is completed efficiently. Planning out resource allocation for each activity early in the project cycle may help prevent the likelihood of low or excess stock levels occurring. Because resources are often subject to lead periods and are not always immediately accessible, it is critical to estimate needs correctly.
Communicate Your Intentions with the Team
Monitoring and reporting on the status of a project is a critical component of project management in any business industry. It enables everyone to be always updated and on the same page. At the same time, it aids in your understanding of the project at hand. Your crew serves as an initial line of defense when spotting potential problems onsite. Encouraging cooperation, idea sharing, and problem-solving among your employees will go a long way toward reducing the likelihood of delays and conflicts.
Set Construction Targets Goals with Realistic Timelines
A project manager is often pressured to complete building projects within tight deadlines and time frames. However, committing to finishing a specific task in unrealistic deadlines is stressful in itself. Not only that, but it serves as a nuisance to every team member and stakeholder, resulting in a tainted track record and mutual distrust. It is essential to thoroughly review your construction targets in order to create realistic timelines.
Invest in a Construction Software
Using construction software to efficiently manage construction projects can optimize and fast-track your standard operating processes. A centralized employee schedule can help keep everyone on the same page and increase responsibility for each task assignment. This strategy can increase the probability of a highly successful project outcome.