The construction schedule is like the Bible for many project managers. It serves as the single source of truth and guide for a construction project. With such importance, how can construction project managers ensure the schedule is as accurate as possible? Below are some helpful scheduling tips that construction project managers can incorporate when building the projection schedule.
Scheduling Tip #1: Gather All the Information
Project Managers should review project requirements in detail to have a 50,000 level view of the project. The more details the better! This will help the project manager grab a handle on the project scope and be as educated as possible on the project in order to develop a realistic schedule.
Scheduling Tip #2: Ask Questions
At the beginning of a project, there may still be many details and decisions that owners and designers have not made yet. It is important that the project manager ask questions and more questions. The more details and clarity the project manager receives at the beginning of the project, the better the stakeholders can proceed in execution. Many of the time wasted in project schedules is waiting on answers to questions. Asking questions and receiving answers in a timely manner will help project managers adhere to their schedule.
Scheduling Tip #3: Speak Up
Sometimes owners have idealistic expectations on a schedule. Sometimes subcontractors will agree to an unrealistic schedule in order to win the job. If a delivery date seems out of reach and unrealistic, it is important to speak up. Do not set yourself for failure by agreeing to an idealistic and unrealistic schedule. As you begin to approach and miss milestones or as issues come up, it is important to speak up address them as early on as possible. The only thing worse than bad news, is late bad news.
Scheduling Tip #4: Communicate and Collaborate
In order to get a grasp on project progress and schedule tracking, it is important to communicate often with all stakeholders. Whether it is a weekly in person meeting or a teleconference call, frequent communications will help a project stay on schedule. The team can discuss how to address issues before they escalate into bigger problems. When emails go unanswered and lack of communication can cause delays, the weekly meetings can help bring clarity and move tasks forward. Staying informed through frequent communication can help construction managers in their scheduling.
Scheduling Tip #5: Look at the Big Picture
Whether it is people or equipment, companies have a finite number of resources. Because of those resource constraints, project managers should not create schedules in a vacuum. Construction project managers should reference other project schedules to ensure that resources are not double booked or overused. Delays or changes in the schedule of one project can affect negatively other projects that were relying on those resources. It is always important to look at the big picture of a company’s projects when creating the project schedule and the resources assigned.
Scheduling Tip #6: Monitor and Update Regularly
Project managers should not create the schedule at the beginning and then let it be. Because it is the Bible for project execution, the project manager should monitor and update it regularly to see how certain activities are progressing. Did certain tasks take longer than expected? Were certain activities started earlier? The schedule is a living document that the project manager should update and share regularly. Many times subcontractors do not receive adjustments to the schedule. They scramble in the event of delays and accelerated schedule.
Scheduling Tip #7: Invest in Software
Tracking tasks, assignments, and resources of a schedule in an excel document is an arduous task. Project managers can relieve themselves of the manual entry and possibility of errors with an investment in a construction project management with scheduling software. This will help automate many of the tasks as well as provide greater transparency across the organization. No longer is the project schedule stuck in an Excel document on the project manager’s computer. However, all team members can access the information in a centrally located database.
When the project owner asks, “How are we tracking” or “When will the project be completed”, a project manager wants to be confident in the answers they are providing. A construction schedule that is monitored and updated regularly and religiously will bring confidence to any project manager. Enacting some of these scheduling tips above will bring you that confidence.