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DOs & DONTs

in Construction Scheduling

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DOs & DONTs IN CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING

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Behind every project schedule there is the person, or people, who created the schedule, and that is the place to start when exploring best practices and pitfalls that creep into project schedules. Thats because its usually human error, and the thinking behind the schedule that leads to problems.

DOs & DONTs IN CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING

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CHIEF AMONG THOSE THOUGHT PATTERNS IS POOR LOGIC


Logic problems in scheduling can arise in many places in todays complex construction projects. Assuming that most project planners and schedulers are well trained and experienced, they will carefully construct a project that is both logical in organization and in timing. But even then, humans make mistakes and sometimes overlook things, so its usually the case that logic errors will creep into the process of planning a complex project schedule. For example, it would be illogical to schedule a bath xture to be installed before the rough-in, but, it happens, and is an example of a logic error arising simply from inattention to detail. While poor logic can be difcult to prevent, there are some steps you can take to correct the thinking behind it. Some examples include creating template schedules that can be modied for projects, implementing a peer review processes, and reviewing historical statistics of schedule durations per square foot per dollar for the particular type of work.
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DOs & DONTs IN CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING

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THE PRACTICE OF QUESTIONING


Other types of errors can be buried more deeply in the fabric of the project schedule, such as when a decision is made based upon incorrect assumptions during estimating, or very early in the project planning stages. Thats why adopting and nurturing a questioning approach to scheduling is often more productive then just assuming everything thats been done before is accurate. The superintendent on the project should either create the schedule, or be deeply involved in the creation of it, since he/ she will be doing the building and closely considers how it will be accomplished. Theres a balance that has to be struck because schedulers shouldnt be going back and redoing estimatings work, or project managements work, but they should be inquisitive enough to follow their hunches and investigate when things dont seem quite right.

DOs & DONTs IN CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING

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FOR EXAMPLE,
permissions and permits are notorious for falling through the cracks, especially when a builder is working in unfamiliar territory. This could happen if time in a schedule was not allocated for in-wall or overhead inspections. An error like this would cost the job multiple days, as work could not progress until those inspections have been realized, scheduled, and completed.

EXPERIENCED SCHEDULERS WILL HAVE A LIST


of things they automatically check at the beginning of every scheduling job just to be sure there werent obvious errors that occurred before them.
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DOs & DONTs IN CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING

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DESCRIPTIONS MATTER
Another type of error is one of not being appropriately descriptive when describing activities.

FIRSt of ALL, youll need to create a very detailed schedule, sometimes even including items as specic as deliveries of material. BUt MoSt IMPoRtAntLY, all tasks or activities have to be described in language that is easily understood by installers and everyone else, and should be referenced to other associated tasks.

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DOs & DONTs IN CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING

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The type of xture should be named and any critical aspects of its installation should be explained in the lines. For example, it could be something like:

Rough-in plumbing in bathroom 15a

and then a line that follows with:

Install fixtures in bathroom 15a

This description, while on separate lines, tells the full story of what needs to be completed.

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DOs & DONTs IN CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING

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RELATIONSHIPS MATTER
When it comes to predecessors and successors, every task except for the very rst and very last must include them. Predecessors and successors serve as the beginnings and ends to each task, and when missing one or both, and activity becomes an orphan. The project itself has a beginning and end, and so too must all the activities or tasks. Be sure to link your predecessors and successors properly, or your critical path wont calculate correctly.

If you resource load your schedule, it can be tempting to ignore assigning resources to individual tasks within a group.

In some cases, assigning resources to the group is ne, but to do so without careful scrutiny is dangerous.

Consider a concrete operation that requires the pouring of a slab. While fewer resources are required initially to form the slab, you will need numerous nishers scheduled on pour day that wont be required on any other day. Accounting for this in scheduling will prevent delays caused by a manpower shortage.
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DOs & DONTs IN CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING

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PITFALLS OF NOT ESTIMATING


Perhaps one of the biggest errors that occurs in project scheduling is not basing estimating on a schedule. A schedule is usually needed to estimate general conditions, which specically relates to how long your team will be on site. Occasionally, a schedule needs to be based on an estimate to ensure that the amount of time assumed in an estimage matches the schedule. However, if the estimate was wrong, the job still needs to be built correctly, and the schedule will overrule the estimate.

DOs & DONTs IN CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING

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Any builder whos done more than one project knows they are all differrent.

10

circumstances unique soil characteristics individual locale own history


and its its its own

Each one has its own

and to approach the scheduling process without an estimate is the act of simply creating USELESS ARTS AND CRAFTS, according to J.F. McCarthy in Choosing Project Success: A Guide for Building Professionals.
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DOs & DONTs IN CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING

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EVERY PROJECT HAS LIMITING FACTORS


Forgetting to consider the constraints and logistics of the project site, and the constraints of specic scopes within the project, are two more prevalent pitfalls in construction project planning.

EXAMPLE 1
Consider a job site that is an existing multifamily renovation project where the buildings will be renovated in phases - one or two buildings at a time. The job site is going to have severe limitations on how labor, materials and equipment move about, because there will always be adult residents, children, the elderly, the disabled, and their movements to consider. A logistics plan should be created and approved by all parties prior to nalizing the schedule.

EXAMPLE 2
Suppose a job requires a concrete slab that will eventually be the ground oor of a building. Time will be required for the slab to cure before building on it. Likewise, using epoxy to set rebar into a block wall will require a curing time that has to be factored into the schedule. Work should be planned and phased to account for dyeing and curing time of various material.

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DOs & DONTs IN CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING

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TRACKING RESULTS
Finally, dont overlook the important management function of controlling. A schedule comes to life once it is implemented, and that means that things are going to begin changing.

Using tracking, you need to know whats working and what isnt, and you need to know where there are too many resources assigned, where there arent enough, along with answers to a hundred questions. Use the reporting functions of your PM or scheduling software to do the analysis.
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DOs & DONTs IN CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING

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