Efficient Project Scheduling Techniques To Keep Things Running Smoothly
Construction project scheduling is a daunting task for most project managers due to the complexity of relationships between tasks and resources. The construction project manager is responsible for scheduling and controlling a project while ensuring that quality is not compromised.
Why is scheduling so important?
- — Avoids bottlenecks in production
- — A formal schedule is often required by project owners
- — Avoids misallocation of resources
- — Allows the construction team to get more done in less time
- — Ensures that all deadlines are met
- — Keeps all stakeholders happy
The strength and effectiveness of a project schedule are directly related to the way the schedule is created.
Here are steps for effective project scheduling to keep things running smoothly:
1. Task Identification
The first step to scheduling any project is identifying the desired end result and determining the tasks needed to accomplish this result.
2. Consider Precedence Relationships
Once tasks are identified, it is important for the project manager to consider precedence relationships, which means that some tasks may not be able to be started until another task is completed. Project scheduling software will make sense of complicated precedence relationships and ensure that no human error goes unnoticed, which will save a lot of last minute planning and wasted resources.
3. Represent Visually
Once the tasks and their precedence relationships are established, the PM should represent them visually with a chart that demonstrates their relationship. These charts can be created easily using project scheduling software.
4. Estimate Durations
Once all required tasks have been identified, the project manager must determine the duration of each task. It is important that the PM determines time durations separate from the timeline. The temptation is that the PM will try to unrealistically fit the activity durations to fit nicely in the timeline despite their inaccuracy, which will not prove useful for the project manager.
5. Determine the Critical Path
Once the durations and precedence relationships are established, the PM must determine the critical path. The critical path is the sequence of tasks that will take the longest to complete, and represents the duration needed to complete a project. The critical path is important because it is crucial for adjusting the schedule length. The Critical Path Method (CPM) is often avoided by project managers because of its complexity and necessity for advanced knowledge, however, modern project management and scheduling software has made the CPM method easy-to-use and helpful in the long run.
The manager must understand that in order to maintain quality, there will be a constant trade-off between cost and schedule. The PM cannot have both cost and schedule as his dual priority. If the project owner asks for a shorter schedule, the monetary implications must be considered.
One way a PM can shorten the timeline of a project without sacrificing quality is by “crashing” the critical path. This means that the PM will spend more money to decrease the duration of activities on the critical path. It is important that the PM only crashes tasks that are found on the critical path, as these are the only ones capable of shortening the schedule. Crashing can be useful when the project owner requests an expedited finish date and is willing to pay more money.
The way a project is scheduled determines how efficiently a project will play out. A methodical and accurate scheduling process is the recipe for a project’s productivity. The scheduling process forces project managers to view the big-picture of a project rather than just the immediate tasks at hand. This planning ahead creates fewer delays between tasks and lays out all scheduling options with trade-offs clearly evaluated.