WHAT IS CONSTRUCTION PROJECT SCHEDULING?
Construction Project Scheduling consists of the tools and processes we use to ensure a construction project is completed on time.
To build a bridge, a water treatment plant, or any piece of infrastructure will involve completing hundreds of different activities in a specific sequence. These activities will have different durations, interdependencies, and resource requirements. Any delays in the completion of one activity can have cascading impacts on any other number of other activities. Additionally, activities can and will be affected by external events such as weather or industrial actions that we have no control over.
If you work for a construction company, a client is paying you to complete the project within a specified time frame. The project completion dates are contractually bound. Any delays to project completion can incur significant delay penalties known as liquidated damages.
To manage all these complexities and ensure our construction projects are completed on time we use project schedule management. During the planning phase, project schedule management covers the identification of all the work to be done, sequencing all of the works, estimating the durations, and collating all this information into a project schedule. The project schedule lists all of the milestones, activities, and deliverables with start and finish dates for the entire project. During the construction phase, we monitor planned performance against actual performance. This allows us to identify and rectify any deviations of the planned schedule from the actual schedule to ensure the project is completed on time.
PROJECT SCHEDULING OBJECTIVES
The primary objective of project schedule management is obvious; to make sure the project is completed on time. However, there are also a number of secondary benefits including:
Managing project costs - ensuring works are planned properly avoids delays and inefficient use of resources
Managing project quality - well-planned works ensure they are not rushed to avoid defects and errors
Client and stakeholder engagement - the project schedule is a critical tool for informing client and stakeholders as to the project's progress
PROJECT SCHEDULING DONE WELL
When project scheduling is done well, during the planning phase an accurate and achievable project schedule is developed. The project scope is broken down in a logical and hierarchical fashion to identify all key activities. Activity durations are then accurately estimated and activities are logically sequenced. All project team members, subcontractors, suppliers, and stakeholders make input into the schedule. They understand the logic and sequencing of activities and plan their works in accordance with this.
During the delivery phase, the project delivery team collects detailed progress information and provides meaningful input to update the project schedule. Actual progress closely matches planned progress. Works follow the logic of the project schedule. Where planned progress does not match actual progress, this is identified early and managed accordingly with appropriate schedule treatments. All stakeholders are happy with the project's progress and understand what is happening.
Developing the project schedule
Project schedule development involves taking the project scope and turning it into a list of sequenced activities with all durations and interdependencies defined. This takes place during the planning or pre-construction phase.
The basic steps to create the project schedule are:
Identify all the work to be done
Sequence the activities
Estimate activity durations
Develop the full schedule model
On top of this, any constraints and milestones will also have to be developed. Once the project schedule has been developed, it will need to be reviewed by key stakeholders.
MONITORING AND CONTROLLING THE PROJECT SCHEDULE
Once the project schedule has been developed, project delivery will commence. The delivery team will then attempt to execute the project in accordance with the schedule. The purpose of project schedule monitoring and control is to ensure that planned progress closely aligns with actual progress. The schedule baseline will be closely monitored and any changes will be carefully managed.
Each activity's actual start, finish, and duration will be recorded. Critical path activities will be monitored with particular attention; as any delays to these activities will result in a delay to overall project completion. Delays will be resolved with appropriate treatments, whether it be with additional resources or budget to ensure these activities get back on track.
Learn more about project scheduling
If you're keen to learn more about project scheduling, check out the link to our Udemy course on construction project scheduling. It's loaded with high-quality and practical content as well as practice activities to reinfroce your learning.