Building a safe structure is a time-consuming and intricate process. Various risks, from job site hazards and cost overruns to supply chain disruptions and non-compliance with regulations, threaten the project’s completion. Careful planning and scheduling are vital in managing these risks effectively.
Contractors have learned that creating a failsafe plan and schedule is the only way to prevent all potential delays and extra expenses. They use advanced tools and methods to simplify the process, make more detailed presentations, and improve accuracy. Digital tools like project management and construction scheduling software have significantly enhanced contractors’ planning and scheduling capabilities.
How do construction project planning and scheduling work?
Planning and scheduling a construction project follows a simple rule define the project’s scope and time, develop a schedule based on that scope and time frame, and implement it. However, the processes and transitional phases are far more complex, considering the diverse factors, risks, and stakeholders involved. Here’s an overview of how contractors approach construction project planning and scheduling.
First, they identify the specific goals and objectives of the project based on the client’s needs and requests as well as any constraints that may affect the project’s execution. Then they develop a work breakdown structure to determine the resources needed for each task, including how long it would take to accomplish those tasks.
Most construction tasks depend on each other, meaning a slight delay at one stage could create a domino effect and derail the entire project. That’s why contractors determine project dependencies when laying out the plan and schedule. This ensures project coordination and organized completion of tasks.
Once the contractor has considered all these factors, they start developing a project schedule. They use various construction scheduling tools to present the project schedule in a way that all stakeholders can understand. This schedule shows when each task should start and finish and identifies any critical path tasks that must be completed on time to keep the project within the agreed schedule.
Also included in the schedule is the allocation of resources. Now that the contractor knows what takes place when, they can efficiently distribute labour, equipment, and materials. They also update the schedule as the project progresses and make room for adjustments in case of changes to the original plan.
Factors Contractors Should Consider
Project planning and scheduling take time because of the sundry factors involved, and because these factors affect each project differently. For example, no two projects have exactly similar scopes, affecting the timeframe and resource gathering. So, creating a one-size-fits-all project plan and schedule isn’t possible. Instead, contractors create a customized plan and schedule based on each project’s unique factors.
The availability of resources is among the top considerations when planning and scheduling a construction project. If some resources aren’t available or cost much money to ship, the budget might change significantly. Should the client decide to forgo additional expenses, the contractor must look for alternatives or change the original plan altogether.
Contractors must also consider environmental factors, which are also linked to the location. For instance, weather, geography, and topography affect how materials are transported and when specific tasks can be carried out. In addition, the ever-changing environmental laws and regulations are also part of the environmental factors that affect the project execution, so they also have to be factored into the plan and schedule.
Construction projects require subcontractors to fulfil various tasks and obtain essential resources. The project plan must therefore include a subcontractor management system to monitor the work of everyone outside the core team. The contractor needs to know when each subcontractor can deliver and how much they charge, as this impacts construction budgeting.
A contractor must consider many other factors in creating a foolproof construction project plan and schedule. But the ultimate goal is not to leave stones unturned to avoid future setbacks. Potential job site hazards or communication barriers between stakeholders must be accounted for to create a realistic plan and schedule.
How digital technology is transforming construction planning and scheduling
Project planning and scheduling have never been easier, thanks to the accessibility of advanced digital tools. Using the correct digital tools enables contractors to visualize the project better, make more accurate predictions, create more realistic assumptions, and boost project coordination. Here are some of the latest digital solutions available:
1. Building Information Modeling
BIM has been around for over a decade, but contractors have only recently adopted it fully. That includes the project planning and scheduling phase. This tool allows construction professionals to create and manage 3D models of buildings and infrastructure, increasing their ability to visualize and plan construction work more effectively.
2. Project Management Software
Tracking and managing a construction project is hard work. Project managers must juggle multiple tasks to ensure the project progresses smoothly. Project management software like PlanRadar takes the hard work off project management. It optimizes not just project planning and scheduling but also resource allocation, budgeting, and communication. This tool enables teams to collaborate and share information in real time, improving project coordination and reducing delays.
3. Drones and Sensors
Many contractors are investing in unmanned aerial vehicles and the Internet of Things to gather more data for creating a comprehensive and failsafe construction project plan and schedule. These machines can collect data previously impossible to collect and analyse with old tools and methods. They made it easier for contractors to derive insights into a construction project’s performance, which can later be used to improve future project plans and schedules.
4. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Planning and scheduling a construction project is easier when the contractor can visualize actual scenarios and environments on the job site. Virtual reality and augmented reality have made this possible by letting contractors create virtual mock-ups where they can develop critical insights. This technology also helps reduce errors, improve collaboration, and increase efficiency.
5. Artificial intelligence
Contractors are harnessing the power of AI to revolutionize data analytics, resulting in enhanced project planning and scheduling. By utilizing AI, they can predict delays, optimize resource allocation, and streamline project coordination for maximum efficiency. Explore the cutting-edge capabilities of AI in construction today.
Project planning and scheduling is the most critical aspect of a construction project. The success of a project depends on how comprehensive and accurate the project plan and schedule are. Changes to the plan may cause delays and cost overruns, but only if they aren’t factored into the project plan.
Construction companies and professionals must use digital technology to create more effective and workable project plans and schedules. With various digital tools available, building safer and longer-lasting structures is easier than ever.
Integrating construction project management software is a significant first step to upgrading construction services. Discover how PlanRadar can help improve your construction project planning and scheduling by starting your 30-day free PlanRadar trial or contacting us directly.