Construction managers have to juggle several things at once, such as the tasks, resources, workflows, stakeholders, and risks without losing sight of the project plan. To do so, construction project managers need to have extensive experience and capability to anticipate future events.
With the increasing challenges in the construction businesses with respect to design, architecture, construction technology, sophisticated machineries, talent management, cross-functional teams and iterative processes. the stakes are high when preparing a schedule.
Given the ever-changing landscape, it goes without saying that an efficient schedule makes all the difference in the world. Let’s take a closer look at scheduling methods for construction management and understand how construction project managers ensure projects stay on track.
Scheduling Methods for Construction Project Management
Construction projects can bring many surprises to the table if you do not focus on the details while preparing the scheduling. The methods listed below will help you eliminate these surprises and actually have task flow according to your expectation.
1. Involve Stakeholders
A project schedule requires every detail of the tasks to be documented and a thorough plan to support it during the execution phase. This process hence, requires input from all the stakeholders, especially project leaders who are going to contribute to the project at any point of time. Keeping stakeholders involved not only helps you prepare a list of tasks on a roughly estimated timeline but also lets you balance competing interests.
Furthermore, the involvement of stakeholders helps you bring different dimensions of the tasks and approach to the table. Open communication allows experts to put forward their expectations and work out a feasible schedule to produce the desired deliverables. Consequently, you and the stakeholders will remain on the same page without any room for surprises from them later.
2. Assigning Resources to Tasks
Construction projects even after efficient mechanized approach will have many resources working around different tasks. It can get challenging to keep track of efforts and task completion. Nevertheless, a resource management tool can help you keep track of resources’ accountability by looking into their time of engagement onto different tasks.
Assigning competent resources to the tasks is win-win situation while preparing a schedule because you wouldn’t have to search for them at the last moment. In fact, you can have one thing assured i.e. interdependent tasks follow the sequence on time and cross functional team are aligned with multiple level tasks.
3. Realistic Milestones
Project schedules are prepared by setting milestones, which indicate the level of completion of the project lifecycle. Setting realistic milestones are necessary for delivering the desired quality of the project. However, you need to maintain a balance. A milestone should neither be too simple, nor impossible to achieve within the projected duration. The results, in turn, should be quantifiable.
Additionally, you will have to educate both clients and stakeholders involved in the reality of the project in order to manage expectations reasonably. Doing so helps them understand the intricacies of the workflow and dynamics of workforce.
4. Schedule Non-Billable Activities
Construction projects can take time, from a few months to a half a decade or even more. That being said, your high-skilled resources may deviate from priority work to non-project tasks if the schedule wouldn’t have anyone accountable for those tasks. By the time you realize the billable hours available aren’t optimally utilized, your costs run high internally when resources are utilized on unplanned activities. Hence, as a project manager, you can move resources to the billable tasks in order to make a profit by limiting their engagement in non-billable activities.
A project comprises of both billable and non-billable activities that helps it succeed. To schedule them perfectly, you can check the resource availability and their utilization status. It will guide you assign the underutilized resource to the non-billable tasks and keep the highly skilled resources on billable ones.
5. Prepare Critical Path Method (CPM)
Critical Path Method is considered the most efficient method for construction scheduling because it benefits any project, regardless of scale. A CPM schedule is the graphical flow of project tasks plotted on a sheet or a task planning tool. This graph is a series of nodes connected with lines with a general start and end point. A node represents a task and the line represents the time required for its completion.
Furthermore, CPM scheduling technique helps you understand the task dependencies start and end time for every task, people assigned to different tasks, and allowable delay between the tasks. In fact, CPM divides the tasks into either early start-early finish or late start-late finish labels. Hence, you can schedule the non-billable tasks the time when the situation of early finish or delay occurs.
6. Line of Balance Method
Line of Balance is used majorly in construction project businesses and manufacturing processes. It is again a resource assignment method used in businesses that undertake iterative tasks. Furthermore, Line of Balance is a chart showing different tasks and time to its completion which is used to align resources to different steps of project task iteration.
You can easily assign the resources with different competency levels on specific tasks without disrupting any iteration. Line of Balance makes tedious scheduling and managing people around an ongoing repetitive task simple and time efficient.
7. Practice Risk Management
Construction project management is set to face some tremendous blows not only related to task management but also from risks. Any unforeseen event can be considered as a risk if it can adversely impact the project’s health. In this regard, natural hazards, machinery malfunction, delays, inflation, and mismanaged resources, can also turn a potential risk into an issue.
The primary reason behind carrying out risk management is to stay clear of the backlashes. And although risk management is not confined to only the scheduling phase, as the phase that determines how smoothly a workload can progress, it makes sense to assess risks early on rather than have issues compromise the rest of the project lifecycle.
Above every method stated in this blog, a proper scheduling results in higher productivity! Although initiating the scheduling process helps you plan the project efficiently the methods given above will help you be better at scheduling. Moreover, a good scheduling practice will help you assign tasks to your resources boasting the workflow efficiency.
You might have prepared schedules using these methods before, let us know which one has helped you the most. Also comment below, if any of these methods has helped you identify the challenges that weren’t visible otherwise!