The very best scheduling practices in Construction

Scheduling in Construction

First of all, let’s clarify exactly what we mean by “scheduling in construction”. It means that once an outfit has got an order and has the drawings and specifications these need a “coat of looking at”! Once that is done then it has to be worked out exactly what tasks have to be done, in what order, by whom, how long each one will take, what materials and plant will be required and how long in advance they will need to be ordered so they are there when needed. That is “scheduling in construction” in a nutshell. It can also be known as “Planning” or “Programming”.

Scheduling in construction

The usual tool for coming up with a schedule is Microsoft Project (MSP) software. There are others but they aren’t as commonly used. Now the quickest and easiest schedule to come up with is a Master Build Programme. This, basically, consists of:-

 “Start on site>dig holes> stick something up> fit it out> hand over> clear off”

– and is of no practical use to man nor beast! No, the very best scheduling practices in construction start with producing a Detailed Programme to Completion (DPC). I argue that this is the most important tool there is for getting a construction project to finish on time, to budget and to standards.

The down-side is that a DPC isn’t a quick and easy thing to produce. It has to start by someone, an experienced Planner, looking at the drawings and specifications, building the thing methodically in their heads, then getting it all down on their MS Project.

This schedule that is going to be produced, to be best practice, needs to list every single Task which the project will involve and to list them in the order in which they need to be done. This can involve various sub-sections if work like internal fit-out is proceeding at the same time as external ground works. Then the planner has to put in a link from the preceding Task for every one of them; can it start when the earlier one is only 30% complete?

Now stop and think! If the lads are going to do that, then will the materials be available for them? Some materials have quite extended procurement periods, custom manufactured steel trusses, for example, and these will have to be checked out. If it is a long-winded business to get them, put that item on the MSP schedule to be ordered in good time. If it is quick, easy stuff to get there is no real need to list that as a Task. Most construction materials are almost next day delivery:- e.g. “A wagon load of sand, sir?” But nobody wants the project to go on hold because of lack of materials, so think about their supply and the Buyers in the office, or Site Managers know when they have to get stuff ordered.

Now a sneaky trick when trying to come up with a DPC isn’t always possible, but can help if it can be done. That is to have a chat with the specialist sub-contractors who will be working on the project. They may be able to advise on what is possible and the order of work which will put the Tasks in the right order.

Once this lot is on MSP and all the dependencies showing, MSP will work out the Critical Path. That is the Tasks which can’t be allowed to fall behind or the job will finish late! They can, quite safely, be completed early, though! Then the progress on each Task needs to be up-dated regularly, preferably on a daily basis. That way people know when they are to make a start on the next task.

Finally the last of these very best scheduling practices in construction is to make that DPC available to everyone involved in the project! That used to be almost impossibility but today is a doddle and free at that! 

Just up-load your DPC onto GenieBelt along with all your other project data and records. Job done! Thank you GenieBelt!


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