When construction projects are delayed, over budget, or poor quality, it can directly influence your company’s success, profitability, and growth. Unexpected hazards and bottlenecks are common in the construction industry, and admittedly, some of these circumstances are beyond anyone’s control. This is where construction scheduling management comes into play. Every business should make developing an accurate project schedule a priority to realize the rewards that come with it. A construction schedule keeps team members on the same page on essential project elements such as activities to be accomplished, deadlines, project scope, and costs, among other things.
While project scheduling is a no-brainer when managing construction projects, creating a realistic and practical project schedule is more complicated than it sounds. Gathering and analyzing the necessary data, obtaining input from essential stakeholders, and then defining a precise timeframe that everyone agrees on appears to be a tad bit overwhelming. The scheduling process becomes more complicated and complex as the project grows in size, taking a significant of time and effort. However, by following the necessary stages, avoiding shortcuts, and focusing on creating the most accurate plan possible, you can increase the likelihood of the project being completed on time and within budget.
In this article, we will delve into the process of creating an optimized schedule tailored to your project’s unique needs and demands, as well as several strategies to streamline the process. But first, let us define the construction schedule and its main types.
A construction schedule is a timeline for all tasks, deadlines, and milestones during a construction project. It is an essential aspect of the project planning phase since it identifies the resources required and the teams in charge of each activity in the construction process.
As you might expect, A project schedule contains more information than your typical daily or monthly planners. The process of project scheduling entails developing a document that outlines the project timeframe and the resources needed to fulfill each activity. It should include a timeline with defined deadlines for each job, providing each team member with a clear picture of the work they’ll be responsible for and keeping everyone on track.
What Are the Main Types of Construction Schedules?
Now that we have defined what a construction schedule is, then let us jump into its three main types:
Master Project Schedule
A master schedule is typically a simplified set of tasks accompanied by a timeframe or project calendar. It is a summarized schedule that lists all significant milestones, critical deliverables, and specific work breakdown structure components. It features schedule outlines and highlights essential project events and landmarks on a complete project calendar.
As its name implies, this schedule monitors critical milestones and key deliverables, but not every activity is required to finish the project. It lists all of the project processes and steps that must be followed to complete a task. It focuses on monitoring if each milestone is completed on schedule, as defined during the project planning process. A milestone schedule is an excellent tool to utilize when planning, producing, reviewing, and reporting on the project’s execution.
A project schedule identifies and monitors every project activity, making it the most detailed schedule. If you are working on a complex, large, or lengthy project, you will need a detailed project schedule.
What is the Importance of a Construction Schedule?
Construction scheduling is critical since it has a significant impact on project success. Building a project without a schedule is like commencing construction blindfolded and without a map. After you’ve established a good building schedule, you’ll be able to reap the benefits listed below. A constructions schedule gives you a clear overview of what tasks, activities, resources, costs are needed to complete the project. It serves as a comprehensive guide that does the entire project smoothly.
- It allows project managers to spot problems early and notify clients and other stakeholders if a deadline is not feasible.
- Everyone is aware of their responsibility and how it affects the project’s progress and completion. Everyone is held accountable for meeting the specified deadlines.
- Project managers can easily assign resources to projects within your organization and identify which items are critical for completion.
What Are the Steps to Creating a Construction Schedule?
As stated in the earlier section, a schedule is critical for project management for construction. To build a proper construction schedule, you must comprehend the projected scope of work and the details affecting the connection of each component. We have listed six steps to creating a good quality construction schedule.
1. Establish the Groundwork for Schedule Management
Establishing the methods, company policies, and documentation guidelines that will govern your project provides the foundation for a healthy project timeline. The schedule management plan outlines the project’s resources and any contingencies that may develop.
List the project’s stakeholders and those who must approve the schedule and those who must receive a copy. This document specifies who can make schedule modifications, the process that team members should use to seek a change and a project communication plan to keep the team informed about changes made during the project.
2. Define the Activities and Tasks Sequences
Creating an effective project task management system can help you organize all of your activities and tasks so you can see how they relate to one another. Knowing how to separate activities is a challenge in the scheduling process. It might be beneficial to divide larger projects into smaller, more manageable, and workable tasks so they can be measurable, easy to estimate, and linked to project outputs and expenses.
The next step is to check which tasks are dependent on the completion of others—concentrating on the order in which the activities should be completed to generate the most effective flow. It is vital to accurately assess all the jobs and milestones that make up your project for effective construction scheduling.
3. Estimate Resources and Inventory Requirements
Materials, labor workforce, tools, equipment, and workspace are all required for each operation in your project. Each task consumes time, resources, and inventory – and each allocation has an impact on your timetable. For example, if a single crew is in charge of many project activities, they might have difficulty focusing on the urgent tasks at hand.
4. Estimate Activity Durations
This step is self-evident, yet it is critical. The foundation of your scheduling process is estimating how long each activity will take. Of course, underestimating will put you behind schedule and annoy your customer. On the other hand, overestimating could result in team members or other resources becoming idle while waiting for antecedent activities to be finished. A good strategy for estimating activity durations is to reference historical data and base it on past projects.
5. Develop Your Construction Schedule
By now, you should have all of the necessary information to create your project schedule. You can designate start and due dates for each activity based on the requirements of each activity, dependencies, and proper sequencing.
6. Project Control and Monitoring
The final step in the scheduling process is to monitor and supervise your project schedule for the project’s duration as a project manager. This step entails analyzing project reports, comparing project progress to the program, controlling performance, and interacting with the team.
When schedule adjustments are required, you must ensure that they are implemented and communicated in accordance with the agreed guidelines at the start. Ensure that each activity is proceeding as planned throughout the project and evaluate whether any remedial action is required if delays occur.
Six Strategies to Create an Efficient Construction Schedule
Now that we have defined the steps to creating a solid and reasonable quality schedule, here are six strategies to ensure a realistic plan.
Get Valuable Insights from Stakeholders
The most critical mistake when it comes to scheduling is making your construction schedule by yourself. It is essential to define tasks, resources, dependencies, and durations with the help of your team and other stakeholders. They can offer valuable insights, inputs, and opinions that can help create a better schedule. Using your team’s on-the-ground knowledge can help you avoid miscommunication, detect potential challenges, and create a timeline that everyone agrees on.
Reference Historical Data and Past Projects
Examining previous projects with similar scope and needs can aid in the creation of accurate estimates and ensure that no jobs are overlooked. History repeats itself, so looking at previous project timelines can guide constantly improving project schedules.
Create Contingency Plans
Identify and document any possible risks and roadblocks that could cause you to miss your deadline. Consider both likely and unlikely risks and make time to account for them so you will not have to make significant changes to the project’s schedule or scope when they arise. Adding a contingency plan helps your project keep on track regardless of unforeseen delays.
Define the Critical Path
Identifying the critical path of your project during its early stages allows you to prioritize the essential tasks. Identifying, prioritizing, and resourcing jobs along the necessary route increases the project’s chances of finishing.
Determine Project Milestones
Milestones are events or markers that signal a significant point in your project’s development. They assist in creating a summary timetable, reporting to executives, and the early detection of problems. It serves as a guide in determining what stage your project should be at this point.
When you manage construction projects, the idea of not being able to complete them on schedule and budget can be intimidating. Luckily, many scheduling software or tools are available, making it easy for stakeholders to visualize the project scheduling process. This strategy can complete your project significantly more manageable, streamlined, and optimized.