Planning is one of the most crucial aspects of construction management, and it’s essential for construction project planners. It involves making careful choices on ways to complete tasks so that projects can be finished on time and within budget. The role of a construction planner is to develop a plan to complete a construction project based on budget, work schedule, and available resources. Construction planners also make organizational decisions, such as which subcontractors to use for the given project.
Broadly speaking, construction planners are given a result and need to do what is necessary to make the result come to life. Synthesizing the steps necessary to complete a construction project is a challenging task. The steps include choosing among technology and methods, defining work tasks and relationships, and estimating activity durations and resource requirements.
When examining construction planning, it is important to understand that decisions on how to organize the project are either budget or schedule oriented. For example, some projects need to be completed within a tight time frame and therefore are not concerned about budget. In contrast, other projects are highly cost conscious, so scheduling decisions are secondary. Finally, there are more complex projects which place high concern on both schedule and cost.
Listed below are the main roles of a construction project planner, followed by their descriptions.
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Planners choose among construction methods
Decisions on how to complete a construction project are rarely structured but are crucial to the management of the project. Deciding among the available methods can make or break a project because they must correspond appropriately to the client’s budget.
For example, a project planner may run into the issue of whether to rent a mini-excavator to dig a ditch or do so by hand. A planner should make this choice based not only on the budget but also on what is best for the site and what can be completed at the highest efficiency. Other factors that influence the planner’s decision include time and reliability of the given approaches.
Construction Project Planners define work tasks and relationships
While planners choose construction methods, they also must determine the various work that the job requires. Identifying work tasks involves breaking down each operation on the job into sub-activities so that scheduling can be done in the future.
A planner’s job to determine the work tasks can be understood when examining a typical construction task such as installing a hardwood floor. For example, when reviewing the drawings, the planner notes that they call for a hardwood floor. To define this task, the planner must analyze it and figure out exactly what this task entails. In using his or her acquired construction knowledge, the planner notes that installing a floor is a multi-step process. Instead of viewing the activity as one single step, the planner divides installing the floor into several stages, which include all the labor that it entails. The steps may include prepping the subfloor, installing the hardwood, sanding, and finishing.
Along with defining work task, planners must also determine the sequence of relationships amongst tasks so that they can be completed in the correct order. Construction is an industry where there is a natural sequence of events that must be completed in order due to the requirements of structural integrity, regulations, and other technical requirements. For example, drywall must be completed before finishing a floor, so a planner should recognize the relationship between these two tasks and schedule them accordingly.
While the complexity of planning may seem daunting, today there is technology that can help planners define project tasks more accurately. It is important that project tasks are defined and understood so that the next part of the management process, estimation, can be done accurately.
Planners estimate activity duration and resource requirements
After defining work tasks and relationships, the next job for a construction planner is to estimate activity durations. In doing so, a planner must take many variables into account. They may include labor efficiency, crew type, crew size, material type, and weather. Besides these factors, there are also random factors that affect the duration of activities such as the skillset of the engineer, or how effectively the assigned superintendent will tackle the project.
Once the planner has a reasonable grasp on the duration of a task, usually, the next step is to estimate what resources the task will require. Examples of resources include available space, tools, and equipment. Identifying resource availability helps with contingency planning to avoid potential problems.
Planning is one of the most crucial aspects of construction management because it ensures that tasks are completed in the most efficient manner possible. The roles of a construction planner are essential to define each aspect of the project and simultaneously choose the best methods to complete them. As construction projects continue to increase in complexity, planners should remember there’s technology, such as cloud-based construction scheduling software, to help them do their jobs with greater efficiency.