Construction Project Planning and Scheduling: A Complete Guide
Large construction projects are likely to fail if there isn’t an effective project plan or schedule in place from the beginning. Construction management software can aid efficient planning and scheduling by creating an integrated work environment to stay on the same page with stakeholders and take tasks head-on without fear of some risks.
Essentially, construction planning overviews the act of choosing relevant policies, processes, and procedures that achieve the project’s goals. Construction scheduling software allows action plans for cost, scope, time, and quality into a detailed calendar. Proper planning and scheduling specify resources (materials, labor, equipment, etc.), risks, and communications into a productive operational workflow. With a detailed construction project plan and budget, your schedule is an essential tool to manage projects.
Why are Construction Project Planning and Scheduling so Important?
Preparing a construction schedule that is both specific and put together ahead of time ensures efficiency and productivity. Construction scheduling allows you and the project team to control quality measures, as well as manage resource allocation in each phase of construction.
Time is money; a reliable schedule gives each party the opportunity to allocate time to all activities to avoid delays and cost overruns.
The planning process is a key component that continues through project closeout and requires much thought from all parties. Project construction is complicated, extensive, and varies in size and type. The range goes from agricultural, civil, commercial, environmental, and industrial. PMP, Project Management Planning is crucial because it defines the process and the completion of the project in specifics. The construction project plan acts as a map that helps the team complete the steps of a project. Always, the PM must consider the client’s requirements and wishes, so the plan stays aligned with the project. PMs might also consider basing the planning process off of a construction project planning checklist to ensure that they dot their i’s and cross their t’s.
Types of Construction Project Planning
— Strategic planning: Corporate planners of the project owner usually go over strategic planning. You want to satisfy both the end-user and the owner, so the strategic planner develops a master construction delivery plan that specifies guidelines agreed upon in the strategic and contracting plans.
— Operational planning: going off of strategic planning, operational planning involves the construction teams coming together with detailed plans to meet the strategic goals. Some questions from The Constructor to help prepare a construction plan
In addition, there are many categories of planning that go into the overall construction plan.
Components of a Project Plan:
— Baselines (performance measures): are the construction project’s approved starting points (cost baselines, scope, baseline schedule) that determine if the project is on “track.”
— Baseline management plan: projects deviate from course, and baseline management plans include the documentation on how the baselines vary and how to handle them. With additional planning, management will determine the acts that the team will do when variances to the baseline arise.
— Documentation: Documents and drawings are advantageous in the planning stage because they provide a representation of what’s going to be constructed. Some examples of construction planning documents are Blueprint drawings and specifications, submittals and approvals, scope documentation, permits, fees, and licenses.
Usually, you start the business plan at the beginning of a construction project. In business plans, project descriptions draft what the project is and defines the outline and execution plan. In addition, they assign team member assignments. Most importantly, the business plan incorporates construction bidding, also known as Bid and Contract. This process is important in the planning process because it determines the success (or potential loss) of a project. Ultimately, business benefits are determinants for the project’s return on investment (ROI), and they enable stakeholders to evaluate the success or failures of a project.
Construction firms are constantly searching for the next project. Without enough projects, a construction company can end up in financial trouble. When you have multiple projects, and they overlap, sometimes firms take on work, and they don’t have enough resources to sustain the project. In this case, it is crucial to implement regular resource planning into your operations. Thus, resource planning ensures that every project will have all the necessary resources needed; this includes employees, materials, and equipment. The importance of planning and scheduling in construction projects stems from resource planning. Without it, projects will go over schedule, and there will be cost overruns. PMs create the timeline and lists of what they need. Often, companies that don’t use resource planning; can result in the delay of a project.
Steps to Create a Construction Project Plan:
1. With stakeholders, discuss key components of the project
Commonly, the plan is mistaken as the project timeline, but the project plan is almost the entire planning process. It is important to keep the stakeholders in the loop of the project. Often, the project’s stakeholders don’t understand the project plan to its full extent. Stakeholders are affected by the project and its end result. Explaining the plan to the stakeholders can potentially lead to the project getting commitment and bids. Documentation is crucial in all parts of a project plan because stakeholders approve and evaluate those that associate with them.
2. Designate roles and responsibilities
— Project sponsor
— Defined business exports
— Project manager
— Project team
— End users
3. Hold a kickoff meeting
Holding a kickoff meeting is a practical step to bring stakeholders together to go over the project in depth. In this process, trust is built among team members because everyone’s input is on the table. Topics to discuss in a kickoff meeting follow:
— Ground rules
— Roles and responsibilities
— Team commitments
— How to make decisions
4. Develop a scope statement
The scope statement is arguably one of the most vital parts of a project plan. It determines the final outcome of the construction project. Throughout the project, the scope will change and develop.
5. Create baseline management plans
Deliverables from the scope statement need to be developed into a work breakdown structure (WBS), which breaks down the deliverables and forms the scope baseline. Scope baselines identify what work needs to be done and break down deliverables into a hierarchy upon levels of detail for activities and tasks.
6. Develop Schedule
The construction project schedule is a timeline created by the project manager, and team members use it as a visual plan for building projects. Project schedules allow teams to split up the whole plan into smaller, more manageable phases. Construction project planning and scheduling keep the team on track and organized. They also facilitate communication with subcontractors and employees by providing detailed explanations of team members’ specific timelines concerning the overall project timeline. In the schedule, it is vital to create a cost baseline, which is the cost by time period.
There are many different types of scheduling techniques to choose from in the construction industry. Two of the most common scheduling methods are the CPM schedule and the Q schedule. CPM scheduling, or critical path scheduling, calculates the minimum completion time factoring in a range of possible start and finishing times for individual activities. Q scheduling, or quantitative scheduling, uses a form of a Gantt chart to indicate quantities of materials that will be used at different locations and at different times during a project.
Here are some scheduling tips for construction project managers:
7. Develop a staffing plan
Staffing plans show which resources that flow in and out of the project in specific time periods, usually monthly, quarterly, or annually. Staffing plans are similar to Gantt charts, except they do not show the begin/end dates, tasks, estimates, or critical path of development.
8. Analyze project quality and risk plans
Project quality involves the acts that ensure the final product suits customer’s expectations as well as the sponsor. Preventing errors is what project quality is all about, not just inspecting the product and fixing them at the end. Implementing quality plans includes setting metrics, standards, and acceptance criteria to ensure that quality reviews and inspections are organized.
Risk mitigation is crucial in project management because, without proper procedures, projects will face delays, incur extra costs, and even face litigation. Risk mitigation is not just assessing risks; it is communication and training team members for responses to high-risk possibilities.