Mastering the Process of Construction Project Planning

There is a long and deep planning phase that needs to be finalized before project managers can begin with the physical construction. It is not as linear as heading to the site right after being signed up by a client. The appointed construction project manager must draft a clear outline of the entire project from start to end. 

Once documented, a project manager gets an excellent oversight of how resources must be managed, what budget constraints to watch, the risks involved, their mitigation plans, targeted timelines, and other objectives.

Hence, project managers need to understand all the steps involved in creating a sound construction plan and how to optimize their efforts to maximize efficiency.

What’s Construction Project Planning?

Every construction project requires a master plan that guides the builder through each step of its lifecycle. The planning process contains all important phases from start to end; ranging from the initial drawings to timelines to budgeting to resource allocation to coordination to execution, among others.

The construction project plan must be finalized before any field activity. Once a project plan has been outlined, the construction manager can schedule each phase by allocating the necessary resources with optimal timelines to complete the project as quickly as possible. 

Having an approved step-by-step map of the complete project ensures all client requirements are met. It also reduces the risk that every project takes.

Starting construction without proper project planning by the manager will result in mismanaged funds, time, resources, and most importantly, the reputation of the firm. This is because mismanagement leads to delays at each project phase, which proves costly for the client.

Construction Project Planning Checklist

Construction Project Planning Types

Not every construction project can be planned the same way. There are several types of planning methods that may or may not be necessary based on the scale of the project, location, policies, and the industry (construction niche) the project falls in. 

Below are some of the most common construction project plans to know about. They can be scaled as needed, and are not arranged in any specific order. 

Strategic Planning

The construction project manager must take the client, owner, and other planners related to the project on board. The resulting discussions will confirm all the requirements and goals that must be met to satisfy the stakeholders. This information can then be used by the construction manager to create a strategic plan that outlines how the project must be handled from start to finish.

Planning Related to Operations

Once the strategic plan is approved, the construction manager can start planning operations. The next round of discussions is held with construction teams and experts. They detail how each phase of the strategic plan should be handled. This includes coming together to devise baselines, complete surveys, and paperwork, and set strategic goals and timelines, etc.

A well-crafted operational plan forms the cornerstone of the construction project. It answers several important questions about the timely delivery of each project phase. 

For example: the construction manager must determine beforehand whether hard-to-obtain materials are involved, whether the current workforce is sufficient enough, whether certain workloads should be outsourced to target delivery dates, or if there are company policies that prevent them from fast-tracking materials, among several questions that all are based on the scale of the project. 

Planning Related to Risk Management

The risk management process identifies potential risks at each construction step and how they can impact the project. This can be in many forms depending on the scale of the project and its construction phase. Risks include cash-flow disruptions, site safety, political trends, economic reports, and legal woes. 

Not all the risk types apply to a project, but having a mitigation plan ensures minimizing loss and other negative effects from an undesired effect as quickly and efficiently as possible. This ensures that delivery targets are met despite undesired events. 

Financial Planning

The financial or business plan determines the contractors and assignments of each project phase. This should ideally be done after the other planning types are finalized to confirm client-approved requirements and strategic goals.

Drafting phase-wise expenses and cash flows gives the client a complete roadmap of estimated costs. Once funding is secured, project biddings can be outlined to sign-up contractors.

Resource Planning

There are two reasons why resource planning is one of the most important phases in construction management. A firm can be split between multiple projects that may or may not have the same client. The construction manager must have a plan to divide resources such as materials, equipment, and manpower between all projects so that both are completed on time. This requires the manager to take into account the requirements of each project at the time. It is not necessary that resources must always be shared equally between projects.

Secondly, in the case of a single project planning, resources must still be planned for each construction phase. If site managers are being outsourced, they need to be scheduled in advance to confirm their availability. If materials are being delivered from out of the city, logistics must be finalized beforehand to ensure timely delivery.

Depending on the scale of the project, resource planning can be split between three sub-types: assets, workers, and materials. This ensures better resource management across the board.

In summary, resource planning ensures a project has all the necessary workers, managers, experts, equipment, etc to complete the project on time.

Steps to Create a Sound Construction Project Plan

There are five main steps that must be followed to create a successful construction plan. They remain the same regardless of the project type.

1. Start With Project Goals and Objectives

The first step is to define the purpose and objectives of the project. This normally involves the return on investment, which determines how specific construction activities must be performed to save costs and remain within budget.

The project goals also include deadlines that need to be tracked, milestones that need to be completed for success, and other time-based factors that construction project managers must confirm whether they are achievable or not.

Starting with a list of objectives is important to create strategic construction outlines. They are also helpful for project managers to monitor workflows.

2. Identify and Mention the Key Stakeholders

Drafting project goals and objectives cannot be finalized without involving the key stakeholders. These include clients, contractors, municipalities, sponsors, etc. All important details must be shared with them for further discussion and amendments.

The client adds project details from start to finish. The contractor pinpoints construction activities. Any concerns with regulations of nearby areas are highlighted by the local municipality. Sponsors bring financing and budgeting to the table, which are determinantal to following construction planning. 

3. Pinpoint the Important Resources for the Project

Once all key stakeholders have agreed upon strategic goals, construction managers can list the resources needed. This can vary between different project phases but normally comprises materials, equipment, and workers. 

The project manager should have comprehensive knowledge of all activities under each phase. That is how resource requirements can be estimated correctly per activity. 

Pinpointing important resources also helps avoid procurement problems over the project’s lifecycle. Finding digital solutions can, furthermore, increase productivity by reducing the time it takes to manage resources for various activities and ensure a smooth transition from one activity to another. 

4. Create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and Prioritize Tasks

Each project phase can involve multiple construction steps. Hence, it is important to have a work breakdown structure for each phase to prioritize different work tasks. This helps project managers estimate the resources needed to complete each task within a prescribed construction schedule.

Prioritizing tasks is also important to ensure different construction teams do not get in the way of each other. It might be more optimal to have one workforce complete a task before bringing in the second team. Having both work together might be inefficient and waste resources.

It should be noted that creating a work breakdown structure is often time-consuming. Each critical path needs to be outlined correctly for maximum efficiency and resource management. Using flowcharts to outline hierarchies is an excellent way to visualize the roadmap. This can often point out conflicting timetables which should be corrected quickly for timely deliverables. 

5. Project Scheduling and Execution

The work breakdown structure is a two-part planning phase that transitions into scheduling. Detailed timelines are created for all specific tasks and activities up to the end of the project lifecycle. These include milestones that need to be achieved and resources that need to be allocated, among other factors. 

Following careful coordination, the construction project manager can assign each task or activity to a relative workforce or team to ensure smooth execution.

The construction scheduling phase is another time-consuming part of construction planning. There is likely to be an overwhelming number of guidelines and objectives. There needs to be a specified process to execute that data. 

Hence, it is efficient for project managers to use scheduling tools to highlight budgets and costs. Such construction software minimizes time spent and ensures optimal integration with all teams.

Five Phases of a Typical Construction Project

There are five main phases of construction project management. It should be noted that project planning and scheduling plays a vital role throughout a project lifecycle. Executing each phase without a sound construction plan might lead to undesired allocation of resources and badly-coordinated teams. 

Initiation Phase

A project officially starts after a client agrees to hire the services of a reputable construction company. In the first meeting, the construction project manager can gather details from the client regarding the project. 

Depending on the requirements, scope, and scale of the project, the project manager can bring in other team members and field experts to determine the project’s feasibility. 

The construction company must understand what needs to be undertaken because it will be responsible for seeing it through until the end of the project.

Planning Phase

Once a project has been initiated, the construction project manager begins creating a master plan. This includes details needed to complete the project such as pinpointing work that needs to be done, the resources needed, the budget constraints, the labor required, the permits, and other legal paperwork. 

In addition, the project planning phase is where the project manager comes up with a workable construction schedule. Once everything is ready and documented, it is time to start executing.

Execution Phase

Also known as the implementation phase, the construction project manager can start the physical construction of the project. This involves several things such as site surveys and preparations, framing and building, landscaping, structural mapping, plumbing and electrical conduiting, and such.

Do note that the construction manager controls the direction of the project. Despite being finalized at the start, construction plans can require changes on the fly. In such cases, it is the responsibility of the project manager to keep monitoring all activities and address any deviations from the original goals.

Monitoring Phase

As already stated above, monitoring is part of the execution phase. Both take place parallel to each other. The construction project manager keeps a close eye on all teams and their activities. Performance metrics are set to ensure that everything is on track, and schedules are being kept. 

However, various factors can force project schedules to shift. Severe weather conditions might force work to stop temporarily, or equipment might arrive late due to roadblocks. Budgets might also need to be adjusted on request. 

Closing the Project

The project closing phase is where the manager goes over the master construction plan to evaluate everything done. Has everything been completed based on the agreement with the client? Is the project in good shape to be closed? Have all the contractors been paid? Several quality assurance checks need to be performed before handing over the project to the client.

Suffice to say, project closure takes a lot more time than people think. It is not as simple as simply pulling all the workforce. Everything needs to be reviewed from top to bottom to confirm that the client will not have any complaints. This requires a deep oversight on the part of the project manager. Years of experience in the construction industry will highlight several common mishaps that need to be given a second look such as to prevent leakages.

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Use Construction Project Planning Software for Efficiency

Every construction project has numerous aspects that require the utmost attention to detail. From initiation to completion, project managers need to plan and integrate several moving pieces that can be time-consuming and overwhelming. 

A single overlooked task can not only end up jeopardizing schedules but also ruin the reputation of the construction company. Hence, it is far more efficient for project managers to use construction planning software such as eSUB to oversee projects from inception to completion.

It simplifies the planning process by bringing together everything a project manager needs in one complete package. You can access the best project planning tools in the market to handle numerous tasks in each construction phase. This includes scheduling activities, coordinating with teams, other administrative tasks such as reminders about vendor contracts and payment, allocating resources, tracking time and performance, and more.

Furthermore, eSUB is equipped to handle data in real time to let you make based decisions on the fly. The live data also ensures controlled costs, better estimates, and improved oversight of the project in general.