Managing a project without any tool to keep things organized can lead to upsetting situations. Setting roles alone is already time-consuming, and when you rely only on your memory for task dissemination, your project is bound to fail.
A small construction project that involves a mid-rise building employs at least a hundred workers. One project manager takes charge of them all plus all the suppliers and subcontractors that need to be included in the completion of the project. It’s incredibly hard to keep all of them working together while making sure the project is moving. But with a capable construction project management software at hand, all of these tasks and people can be easily handled.
The Role of Project Management Software in Building Construction
Construction project management software isn’t only useful in setting tasks and checking progress. More importantly, it helps a project manager monitor all ongoing construction works to see to it that the step by step procedures are being carried out.
The tasks in the construction of a building have dependencies. This means that if the completion date in your plan changes, it will have a domino effect on the other activities.
Let’s take the start of the construction as an example. In making a house or a building, the team usually starts with the foundation. If they end up delaying the pouring of the foundation, then it delays all other tasks that should come next like setting up the posts for the next floor level.
One of the major roles of a construction project management software then is to help the project manager and all his subordinates to strictly follow schedules and work efficiently as planned. But if the inevitable happens, it allows the project lead to make changes in the deadline and attach all-new task schedules automatically. This saves him from time-consuming meetings as well as doing manual task-by-task changes.
Advantages of Using Construction Project Management Software
As mentioned earlier, construction project management software takes away the need to manually change your planning documents. Without it, construction project managers are forced to edit task schedules and milestones separately. While it’s annoyingly time-consuming, the worst that can happen is making errors in inputting new data.
In project management software, the risk of errors is very minimal. This is because only one data needs to be edited and like a spreadsheet with a set formula, all related inputs will automatically be adjusted.
Besides, project monitoring is easiest and probably most accurate with the use of the tracking and analytics features of the software. By having the crew members input their daily accomplishments, the project manager can easily tell whether the project is on track or not.
Furthermore, collaboration and communication are more efficient when ta software is employed in a construction project. Cloud-Based software can be shared across the network within the team so members can easily access the project plan. They can update their progress, share important notes, and monitor their work so it will be faster for them to see what’s coming up next for them.
The same goes for the client. Having access to the project plan will help them see the status of the construction in real-time without having to wait for the project manager’s stale report.
Tips and Tricks to Make the Most of Your Scheduling Software
Construction management software can include tons of features that can sometimes get confusing. But instead of feeling overwhelmed and neglecting it altogether, project managers should take extra effort to get acquainted with the software as it’s meant to simplify their tasks for the long term.
In creating scheduling via construction management software like Pro Crew, the project lead should define all these six key processes for more efficient time and task management:
1. Plan the overall project schedule.
2. Define all project activities.
3. Designate activities and roles.
4. Estimate resources including workers, materials, equipment, etc.
5. Estimate task duration of each crew.
6. Develop the final project schedule with complete details.
Starting with creating a project schedule, there are three main types of it that a project manager creates. They include:
1. The Project Master Schedule is an overview of the tasks involved in carrying on the project and the timeline of the estimated completion of each.
2. The Milestone Schedule serves as a summary that tracks all accomplishments and key deliverables.
3. The Detailed Project Schedule includes all specific tasks of every crew and their corresponding timelines. If construction is big, the more detailed the project schedule becomes. It is important to not leave a single task behind so project managers should make sure that every step is declared in the calendar for it to be monitored.
Templates may be available in the software so it will be easier for project leads to create these schedules. They can make separate sheets for each type, labeling them clearly and maybe adding descriptions, so they won’t be confused later.
Some project managers get a headache looking at full-texted schedules. Reports are difficult to read as the project progresses so most leads prefer using Gantt Charts to track the movement of their project. This is why their preferred construction scheduling software is the one that uses the Gantt Chart in schedule creation.
Pro Tip: In choosing the best scheduling software to use, project managers should look for tools that will let them translate schedules in different views. For example, a detailed schedule will naturally be filled with text. But it will be great if there’s an option for it to be interpreted through charts where summaries are indicated and the details like timeline or status will be in the form of a chart. This makes monitoring faster for the lead and easier to understand for the crews.
Tips for Efficient Use of Construction Scheduling Software
1. Track, Update, Collaborate
The project manager is responsible for creating a dynamic project plan but the members have to regularly update their worksheets. There’s nothing to track when there are no inputs so make sure to train your team on how to use the software.
Set rules like “no time input, no pay,” so everyone will be obliged to fill up their end of the day reports. This will minimize instances of confusion due to untracked tasks. Consequently, members will realize the value of collaboration which leads to the profitability of the whole team.
What’s great about advanced construction scheduling software is that they already have mobile app versions. This makes tracking possible even when the project manager isn’t within the construction premises.
2. Create Calendars
Calendars are easier for the rank and files to understand. They don’t have time to read a full report so setting a calendar with an overview of their task will be more effective.
In the calendar, see to it that you add deadlines and set reminders when the date is nearing. Set separate calendars for vacations, training, and more. Putting all these categories together in one calendar will just make them more confused.
Use filters to find the right calendar a lot faster.
3. Secure Data and Other Digital Assets
The Cloud is a safe place but you have to define who among your members should be able to access certain documents. Employee assessment shouldn’t be accessed by them but they should be able to see the detailed project schedule. So you should set separate folders protected by passwords so only the right people can access certain files.
4. Let Everyone Install the App
You certainly can’t buy everyone in your team their computers so leverage what they already have and that is their mobile phones. Make communication and task updating more accessible for everyone by asking members to install the app on their phones.
5. Presentations When Meetings Aren’t Possible
As the project progresses, members will become busier. This means chances for gathering everyone for a meeting won’t always be easy. If you have an important update or comment about the project’s status, or when there’s a major change, create a powerpoint presentation which they can watch during their free time.
Add buttons to confirm that they watched the whole video too so you will be sure that everyone was informed.
6. Send Files Before the Meeting
Prepare members for a meeting by letting them preview the presentation you’ll use in the meeting. This is so that they can prepare their ideas that they can contribute to the improvement of the project.
Announce the meeting via the calendar. Send an invitation for participation so you’ll no longer need to check attendance manually during the meeting. And after the gathering, post minutes of the meeting to give everyone, including those who weren’t able to attend, so they can give everyone an overview of what you accomplished during the meeting.
Tips for Solid Project Scheduling
The efficiency in making an impeccable schedule is not fully dependent on the construction scheduling software, though. So here are some techniques a project manager should consider in making systematic schedules:
1. The key processes mentioned earlier are relevant efficient project scheduling. They serve as your guide in making a realistic schedule. Have it checked by the client and get their input too. Involve your members in making the schedule too as they can tell what they’re capable of accomplishing.
This prevents you from upsetting your client because of unmet deadlines. This also prevents compromising quality because you’ve been rushing your members.
2. Refer to past projects for planning schedules. If the scope and requirements are similar, then you can create a more realistic estimate. This also makes the task simpler.
3. Note milestones like project kickoff, design approval, construction started, and project closeout. They are useful in creating reports for your client.
3. In estimating the deadline, you should also consider factors like holidays, absences, leaves, and natural disasters.
4. Consider using a critical path and identify the activities which will take a longer time to accomplish so you can assign resources to make it a success.
5. Work with foremen and senior engineers to make scheduling assumptions. Record the logic behind these predictions too. This will later help you explain to your client the delays that happened because of the wrong resources.
6. Finally, identify risks that may slow down the project and plan for risk management efforts to help make up for the lost time and get back on schedule.
Project scheduling is a tedious task. But with a construction scheduling software in hands like Pro Crew Schedule and a couple of pro tips in mind, any project manager can have an easier time in creating a more efficient project schedule.