Planning is the very heart of every construction project. However, the master schedule does not reflect the reality onsite in many instances. As the project manager, you must bring your project plan to life by ensuring team collaboration and communication are moved in a real-time dynamic environment.
Doing so, the construction schedule gets updated with all data straight from the site. Thus, you no longer need to chase people with emails, texts, or phone calls. This is the very first step for making sure that your construction team contributes to the schedule, whether you are on the site or not.
But the real question is, how should you place planning at the center of your construction projects? We discussed construction planning in our previous articles, but we will explain it more profound here. In addition, we prepare some best practices you can apply to prioritize planning and construction schedules to your projects, helping you protect your profit margins and deliver faster.
What is Construction Planning?
The very first stage of construction management is construction planning. It is the discipline of taking a project from outset to completion. This includes other components and elements that contribute to the success of planning.
Here are some key terms you should know to know to put planning at the proper core of your projects:
- Baselines – Generally referred to as performance measures, construction baselines are the approved starting points of a project. Building baselines are crucial because it can help you identify whether the project is on track or not.
- Construction bidding – This is the actual process of submitting a proposal to a project for a client.
- Baseline project management – This plan builds what steps management and the rest of the construction team might take if the project departs from the developed course crafted by the baselines.
- Blueprint drawings and specifications – They refer to the drawings that showcase the layout of the finished project. They also include a comprehensive list of the items necessary to build the structure.
- Scope documentation – It contains collective feedback from the main stakeholders. In addition, scope documentation provides a concise financial timeline for the project.
- Submittals – A contractor submits the documents to the architect for approval, even before the project starts. Submittals typically include requests for materials and equipment, construction punch lists, project instructions, and drawings for the construction team.
- Strategic plan – This sets, determine and articulates the project objective. It answers the many questions concerning the project’s mission, how it can achieve the mission, and how those objectives align with the owner’s strategy or project’s sponsor. To put it simply, a strategic plan is the bigger picture analysis that the project sponsor carries out.
Participants in the Construction Planning Process
To successfully put planning into the right core, as a project manager, you should be aware of the number of key parties involved and their responsibilities:
- The clients and sponsors – They are often not the same party. Clients and sponsors have distinct roles. The client is the end-user, while the sponsor funds the project. In instances where the sponsor and the client are different parties, it is the sponsor’s right to approve some changes to the project.
- Contractor – This is an umbrella term for firms and people that carry out a contractual obligation to deliver services for a construction project. Most major projects will have contractors with many subs working under their supervision. The contractor is the one who organizes, coordinates, and oversees the performance and efforts of each subcontractor.
- Consultants – The consultant is a party whose approved responsibility is to provide specialized knowledge and direction during the project’s design, planning, or construction phase. You are most likely to see many consultants on commercial projects, especially when you engage with them.
- Supplier/Vendor – They sell all sorts of materials you use for the project. Nowadays, the term supplier has a loose definition, often describing services, not just the materials. Architects and other design professionals can also be considered suppliers.
- Architects and Engineers – The architects are the ones who come up with the project design. On the other hand, the engineers are the one who makes sure the design works. The architect is the chief designer of the project. Engineers make sure that the designs are practical, workable, and structurally sound.
Three Tips to Successfully Place Planning at the Heart of Your Projects
Regardless of your project’s budget, size, and time-frame of your projects, one thing is always sure – it all begins from a strong culture around construction planning. Prioritizing planning will have everything and everyone aligned at the same place, especially the stakeholders.
To help you bring out the same practical approach to planning your construction projects, we outline below three primary secrets that you must always keep in mind.
1. Make your plan available to everyone
Being the project manager, you must always think of the construction schedule as the heartbeat of your projects. One of your highest priorities is to keep the flow of your project at a regular pace. It is like running a race. If you want to excel and succeed, you have to find the right balance and avoid going too fast or slow.
Break down your plan into smaller, more manageable tasks that add value constantly.
Plan your next steps accurately, and maintain much better control over your project to prevent delays.
- Roll out 4-6 weeks look ahead to plan and link them to your master schedule.
When you follow the tips cited above, you can gain more flexibility when defining the next milestones. You can also align the stakeholders and your construction team around them much easier. Level up your planning using reliable project scheduling software. This software tool is designed to increase the strong potential for successful project completion – within budget, on time, and financial complications.
2. Get clarity and visibility of where your project is
Have you and your team experienced a lack of communication? We can guess that it happens countless times. There are a lot of instances that miscommunication happens between you and your team. For the most part, the construction schedule is the main subject since this isn’t shared in a central, real-time platform. As a result, project managers like you and the rest of your team cannot make updates on the schedule. Miscommunication is evident here.
As a project manager, you are far overwhelmed trying to get updates and documents from different sources. However, after spending 40% of your day trying to prioritize it, there are still a lot of mishaps. If this keeps happening to you and your team lately, we recommend moving all your project information to the cloud.
And where can you find the cloud? Simple, through Pro Crew Schedule – a reliable subcontractor scheduling software.
3. Make sure your whole team contributes to the schedule
How often do you check your phone during the day, send a message, or call someone? An average smartphone user regularly checks his phone many times per hour. So, why is there so much resistance from the people on site on bringing smartphones? Each crew member in your team should be bringing phones, whether onsite or not.
If you want planning to be prioritized, there has to be connectivity. There should be a plan to bring people together, either physical or virtual. In other words, we suggest that you employ task management programs in your operations. Only then connecting field updates will be open to relevant and involved parties.
This project management tool serves as a central place where sharing updates, progress, reacting to bottlenecks, and flagging issues can be done in a timely manner.
Improve Construction Planning with Pro Crew Schedule
How many times did we suggest to you to deploy construction techs? A few times, right? If it’s your goal to put planning above all, using the right construction software is the best option there is. Keeping all your stakeholders at the same pace with automated updates and real-time collaboration is a must from pre-construction to closing projects.
The Pro Crew Schedule makes it easier to capture, plan, manage, and update all planning operations, helping you and your construction team become more effective and have many things done. Get real-time transparency into work as it happens with automated workflows, roll-up reports, dashboards built to keep your construction team connected and well-informed.
When your team has clarity on the actual construction planning, there is no telling how much more they can fulfill in the same amount of time.
By now, we expect that you have a much clearer understanding of what you need to do to place planning at the core of your projects. As a project manager, you should also act as the construction planner, enabling all your stakeholders and crew to work on the same schedule. This is how you successfully bring peace of mind back to your construction projects and protect your margins.