Managing construction project scheduling is a complex challenge, in fact project scheduling problems and resource-constrained issues are generally considered essential issues for contractors to be addressed. No matter how large or small the construction project, an efficient, well-thought-out schedule is crucial to achieving success.
Project managers have to deal with the complex logical relationships on a construction project. The project scheduler has to manage many aspects of the contract, such as adjusting staff requirements at various stages of the project, overseeing logistics and deliveries, managing equipment needs, organizing inspections plus estimating time requirements for task completions, all of
which requires a high level of competency on the part of the scheduler.
Importance of project scheduling
Project scheduling is important because it:
keeps the project on track to meet milestones
avoids production delays
allows for correct resource allocation
keeps the process transparent and all stakeholders happy
requirement of the project.
Are you struggling to keep your construction project on schedule? Here is a guide on construction scheduling techniques to make project planning easier.
Creating a construction project schedule
How effective project scheduling is, depends on how you create the schedule in the first place.
Identifying project tasks
The first thing is to identify all the tasks required to achieve the required result. Make sure you include all the tasks from beginning to end.
Consider the logical relationships
Consider the logical relationships between the tasks. This means you need to know what task needs completing before another one starts.
There are some very good construction project scheduling software that can help you make sense of logical relations when scheduling a construction project. Using software will also ensure you see when things are going off track.
Good project scheduling saves time, resources and money.
Use visual representations
Use visual representations to show logical relationships between tasks. By producing charts from your software, it is easy for everyone to track a project’s progress.
Estimate time to complete
Identify the estimated time to complete each task. Calculate these timelines separately from the overall time to completion date. This gives you a true estimated time to complete each task rather than trying to fit each task into the available time, which can be inaccurate. This will cause all sorts of problems during the life of the project.
Calculate the critical path to success
Calculate the critical path once you determine the logical relationships. The critical path are the tasks that take longest to complete. This represents the amount of time the project will take to complete. Construction project scheduling software makes determining the critical path simple. This will help you in the long term.
Build slack time into the project
Building slack time into project scheduling can help the project stay on track. There are always unforeseen things that occur on any construction project. By building in slack time you have the flexibility to move tasks and timelines around when you have no other choice.
Crash when you have to
When you have demands to finish the project in less time, use crashing as a powerful project management tool. Use it to cut time from the deadline for tasks in the critical path. You can do this by doubling the resources working on a task to finish it in half the time, for example. This will cost more money. It is a good technique when the project owner is willing to pay more money to get the project finished quicker.
Projects that lag behind schedule
When your project is lagging behind schedule, consider accelerating your schedule. The first thing to do is to complete a review of the whole schedule to work out how many tasks are lagging behind.
Making the decision to accelerate
There are times the project owner wants to speed up a project but there are others when tasks lag behind. This can be for all sorts of reasons such as bad weather or resources that are unavailable.
When you feel the need to accelerate a project do a complete analysis:
Is there an acceleration clause in the contract?
Will the project be paid for accelerating the project?
What resources do I need and are they available?
What is the timeline for the acceleration plan?
What will the process cost?
What tasks can you alter during acceleration?
Does the project end date need to be modified?
When does acceleration start and finish?
How will you communicate your plans to team members?
Drawing up an acceleration proposal
Following a project scheduling acceleration process, you may need to recover costs. When this is the case, draw up a proposal for the acceleration process. Most construction contracts will have guidelines for this built in. If your contract does not, your proposal should contain the following:
Prepare an accelerated schedule. You need to prepare an accelerated construction project schedule to share with the stakeholders and the team. It will identify the start and end dates, and the impact on the current timelines for affected tasks.
Cost of acceleration. There are costs associated with accelerating project schedules. These will include extra materials, team members and overtime, overhead costs, tools and equipment, and storage costs. All this needs factoring into the cost of acceleration.
Impacts and risks. Make a list of the tasks the acceleration plan will impact. Also make a list of the risks the acceleration plan raises and how to mitigate them. As well, make a fallback plan in case acceleration does not achieve the expected time or cost savings.
Techniques for accelerating construction scheduling:
Some of the things to consider with accelerating construction project scheduling includes:
different concreting methods
modular offsite construction
adding an extra shift
rescheduling work tasks.
The key to efficient construction scheduling is how much time and effort goes into creating the schedule. Construction project management scheduling makes a project manager look at the construction project from a ‘big picture’ perspective. Planning this way using construction project scheduling software means your project will be more productive.