As a construction manager, one of your most important responsibilities is to finish projects on time and within budget. As a result, you need to focus on planning your construction projects. Suppose you do not have a comprehensive plan for a construction project. In that case, you could make expensive mistakes in the design, have no contingency plans for possible delays, or even need more resources to finish the project. But what is planning for construction, and what does a good planning process look like?
Using efficient construction project management software can help you plan your project thoroughly. This strategy increases the chances for your construction company to finish projects on schedule and within budget while conforming to the highest quality possible. Before diving into how you can create a comprehensive construction planning system, let us first go through the basics.
Defining What Construction Planning Is
Construction planning is the process in which a manager plans to manage and carry out a construction project, from pre-construction to post-construction stages. It provides a specific framework on what needs to be done and when for each part of the building process.
A construction plan should indicate what needs to be done, how long it will take, what resources will be used, and what activities should be done for a specific period. In short, it is the master plan – it ensures that a construction project runs smoothly and meets all of its deadlines, budget limits, and quality standards.
Resource and Inventory Planning
The first step is to plan out your resources – it tells you how much of the materials, labor, and equipment you will need for the project. Your resources are one of the cost drivers of your project. Knowing how many resources you need and when you need them can help you figure out budgets and costs.
Your workforce is another thing you need to consider when forecasting your resource. It is one of the trickiest parts of planning resources. Making up for the lack of workers is more complicated than a lack of equipment or resources. As a project manager, you must allow the correct number of skilled workers at the right time. Take note of your critical path when scheduling your employees’ tasks to ensure that you have enough people for busy times and can meet milestone dates.
Budget and Financial Planning
Resource and financial planning often go hand in hand. A financial plan lists all expenses you must pay for in the resource plan while considering indirect expenses such as administration and overhead costs. It should also have money aside if something unexpected happens, making the project cost more. Luckily, many project management tools for construction can help you keep track of every project detail with a simple glance.
A quality plan spells out the agreed-upon standards for project deliverables. It will also explain how you will keep your project’s quality high and what you will need to do if the quality of the deliverables needs to meet standards. It talks about who is in charge of quality on the project team and how you will measure and talk about quality.
When managing construction projects, you need to monitor a million moving parts that can be exposed to possible delays. A risk plan lists the project’s potential risks and discusses what is done to eliminate, reduce, or deal with the most significant threats. From the prices of raw materials going up and down, laws changing, fires, a lack of qualified workers, and natural disasters having an efficient risk management system in place can help your team keep track of risks and deal with them if they arise.
A procurement plan explains where and how you will obtain the materials and services necessary for the project. It helps you maintain good supplier and vendor relationships, save money, and ensure transparency on public projects. This way, you can ensure that the right resources are available at the right time, resulting in a more streamlined and optimized process.
A construction project cannot proceed when there are no contracts. This step involves issuing tenders, requests for information (RFIs), and recommendations for proposals (R.F.P.s) before you sign contracts with selected suppliers. This goes hand in hand with procurement planning – you need to ensure the best pricing and satisfy transparency requirements on specific projects.
An acceptance plan lists the project’s deliverables and tells the customer what they need to do to accept them. It clarifies the evaluation process and stops clients from changing the specifications of deliverables on a whim. The acceptance plan also helps the client know that the building meets their standards.
You can conduct the phase review at the end of the planning phase to take stock and decide whether the project is ready to move into the next lifecycle stage: the construction stage.
Five Tips to Perfect Your Construction Planning Process
If the project takes longer than planned, your company’s profitability may be significantly affected – you spend more of your budget to complete the project instead of what you initially projected. If the costs are more than expected, the return on investment (ROI) decreases. If there are delays and prices go up, it may take longer to pay off the loans, making the project cost more. As a result, delays and cost overruns might hurt your company’s reputation and ability to market the task well.
This section lists five ways to improve and perfect your construction planning management system for a smooth, seamless, and streamlined project delivery to your clients.
Create a Project Initiation Document
Regardless of the project’s size, scope, or complexity, you need to start with a feasibility study that lets you know if you can handle the project and how it can affect your organization.
You can start with a simple project initiation document that offers the following initial information:
- The number of workers needed, including contractors and subcontractors like plumbers and electricians.
- Materials required for the design and plans for the building.
- An estimate of the project’s cost, including labor, materials, tools, fees, and permits.
The goal of this document is to list the resources you will need to finish the project, both for your stakeholders and your team, and if it is profitable for your company.
Set Your Goals and Strategies
Once you have your project initiation document, you must create the specifics. You can set your specific project details using the S.M.A.R.T goals, which are listed below:
Specific: Set clear goals for your project, like due dates and milestones for essential steps.
Measurable: Figure out how you will know if your goals have been met. You can set key performance indicators (KPIs) to see how a specific part of your project is progressing.
Attainable: You need a plan for how you will reach these goals. It may be something as simple as securing a specific amount of resources that you will need to ensure the project is delivered on time.
Realistic: Your goals must be within your construction manager’s abilities. You must build a two-floor home after some time – if you set realistic timelines for your project, you are just setting yourself up for failure.
Timely: Set a specific time frame for when you think the project will likely reach these goals.
Finalize Your Project’s Details
Now is the time to carry out your plan. Start by making a high-level project timeline with critical deliverables and important milestones to keep everything on track. Once you have a schedule, you can start planning each project step.
You can talk with other team members to get their insights on the project and the schedule for building it. You can also set one-on-one meetings to set expectations for their role in the project delivery.
Keep A Close Eye on the Progress
Now that you have finalized your plans and started with your project, the next thing you need to do is to keep a close eye on how well your construction project team is doing and ensure they follow your project’s baseline. Some things you may need to keep an eye out for are the following:
Project objectives: Are you still on time and a budget?
Performance: Is the project going well, or are you facing problems you didn’t expect?
Quality: The crew is meeting their goals, but is the work as good as you want it to be at this point?
In this stage, it would be helpful if you realized the benefits of using construction software. These technologies can help you manage day-to-day tasks more quickly and efficiently, focusing more on the essential parts of planning management.
Evaluate Your Project
Even if you are in your project’s construction or postconstruction stage, you still need to finish planning. Closing out tasks or punch lists is essential for seamless project delivery. You can also take this time to evaluate the lessons you have learned, and the data you have collected will help you plan your next project. This work can also be part of the planning for your next project before it is built.
With a well-defined construction project plan and a way to keep track of performance and problems, you will be ready to plan an even better construction project the next time. As a project manager, you will know where the issues are and what went wrong, and keep this in mind when planning your next project, resulting in better and optimized project processes.