Jim discusses the importance of proper planning related to a construction project, and explains how the plan must be consulted when preparing the schedule.
- Developing a plan. This is where it all begins. A poor plan is probably going to result in a poor schedule no matter how good the scheduling person or scheduling team is. Planning has to be done before scheduling and like I said earlier, planning starts during estimating because estimating is more than just pricing out the individual components of a project. It really involves figuring out how the job is going to be built. You have to determine not only what needs to be built but also things like what sequence will these things be built in and who will do it? Will you self-perform or will you subcontract the work out? Let's talk about the sequence of work for a minute.
Some construction projects are fairly straightforward. This includes many what I call new build projects, projects where we're going to build a structure or facility on an empty piece of land from the ground up. On projects like these, there really may only be one logical plan or sequence of events. You clear and do earthwork. You install the underground utilities. You construct the foundations. You build the superstructure on top of that. You rough in utilities, et cetera but many other projects are not so straightforward.
In my Technology on the Jobsite course, we featured a project that on the surface seemed like a straightforward new build. It consisted of building a nine story hospital patient tower from the ground up. However, if you look at it closer, that tower sits within the campus of an existing hospital facility. Many decisions had to be made early on about the sequence of events that would be used to construct this tower, things like how to provide side access while not interfering with existing hospital operations or where will structural steel be staged and how much can actually be brought to the site at once? These decisions affect where the crane will be located and how big the crane will have to be.
All of this certainly affects the price and that makes it imperative that the plan that was developed during estimating be communicated to the project management team as they begin to schedule the activities on the project. Let me give you another example. This is a horizontal construction project from my street improvement days. On these public works projects that we did, there was a lot of planning that went into them before we could even bid the project. Oftentimes, we were doing things like widening a street and that involved cutting into a hillside which results in lots of dirt to haul away.
To even be able to start to price this kind of work, I had to decide what I was going to use to excavate with. To do that, I had to go visit the site and see how big of a piece of equipment would fit. This determined production rates, things like how fast I can dig and how fast I can load a truck then I had to have a plan of where I was going to take that dirt. The farther away I had to haul it, the more trucks I would need to keep up with my excavator. Throw in things like phasing and sequencing to make sure that we keep at least a little bit of traffic flowing in the city and it becomes easy to see how this planning affects the price.
Now, if this plan is not the basis of the future schedule once you're awarded the job then the project management team might make decisions related to those same activities that result in vastly different costs than what we're used to prepare the proposal. That's not to say that the plan isn't adjusted or even completely reworked before a job actually starts. Sometimes you get a few more people looking at it and you do find a better approach that saves money or maybe the equipment or the personnel that you planned on using are no longer available once the job actually starts and then you have to adjust based on that.
That all happens and sometimes it does result in a better plan the second time around but sometimes the team tries to start scheduling without looking at that plan and that can be bad. On our work, we did fairly complex street projects. They had to be large. They had to have lots of bid items, lots of work activities. I remember one project that was particularly complex because the specifications and the requirements were a little unusual. Access was really tight and it was a little more remote than our typical project.
My superintendent took the job and set up a schedule without sitting down with me to talk about the plan I had created during estimating. He immediately decided like superintendents will tend to do that I didn't have near enough time or money in the job. Once we sat down with the plan though, it was quickly apparent that his schedule did not at all resemble the plan that I had devised. This is what can happen when you schedule without planning first. Once we started to rework the schedule and make it resemble the plan, everything worked out fine.
This course identifies the steps needed to develop a proper plan, and demonstrates how that plan is transformed into a construction schedule. Throughout the course, instructor Jim Rogers shares examples of his own successes and failures in the areas of construction planning and scheduling, so as to lend real-world context to the concepts he covers.
- Types of schedules
- Planning versus scheduling
- Work breakdown structure
- Developing a schedule
- Creating a network model
- Assigning durations, costs, and resources
- Identifying the critical path
- Letting the software do the calculations
- Checking and updating the schedule
- Scheduling's impact on productivity