Guide to Construction Scheduling

construction scheduling

Construction scheduling is a massive part of any building or construction project. It requires meticulous planning, coordination, and the ability to line up multiple tasks at once in order to complete projects on time, on budget and within the proper guidelines. Here, we’ll guide you through the construction scheduling process, the role it plays, and effective techniques to master it.

What is Construction Scheduling?

Construction scheduling is a way of planning and organising all of the tasks and jobs your team will carry out and compete over the course of a construction project. This means planning the order and sequence of works, as well as managing all elements required – such as labour, equipment, materials, and so on. A proper construction schedule will act as the blueprint for your entire project. 

Why Is Construction Scheduling Important?

Resource Management – A well-thought out Construction Schedule should guarantee that you are making the best use of your resources, such as labour, materials, equipment and sub-contractors.

Time Management – Construction Schedules allow for easier progress tracking so you can ensure deadlines are being met – and on time. 

Budgets – A Construction Schedule can help to prevent budget overruns by identifying potential delays and cost issues in advance of the project start. 

Communication – Construction projects tend to have a lot of moving parts and will have a lot of different stakeholders and teams involved such as architects, engineers, surveyors, contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers and project managers. Your Construction Schedule is a good way to make all parties aware of the project timeline and progress.

Steps to Create an Effective Construction Schedule

Define the Project Scope – To start, you need to clearly define the project scope. This means identifying the key milestones, any and all deliverables, and the overall objective. This step sets the foundation for your construction schedule. 

Develop a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) – A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is about splitting your project into tasks and sections that are more manageable. It outlines all tasks and subtasks, making it easier to assign responsibilities and track progress.

Identify Resources – For your project to run smoothly, you need to identify and allocate the resources needed at every stage of the project. This includes labour, materials, equipment, plant, contractors and sub-contractors. All should be accounted for in your budget and schedule

Setting Time Estimates – Estimate the time required to complete each task in your construction project. You should be as realistic as possible and try to factor in any potential delays. This step will help with setting achievable deadlines – and avoiding unrealistic timelines.

Establish Dependencies – In construction, often a works phase or job needs to be finished before another can begin. So, determine which tasks are dependent and need to be completed before others can begin. This will allow you to create a logical timeline for the project. 

Create a Timeline – Taking all the information you’ve gathered so far, create a timeline and plot out each stage of construction. Visual tools like Gantt charts can be helpful in presenting the information; while a timeline will make it easier for stakeholders to visualise the project at each stage, and the overall outcome. 

Implement Risk Management – Take a proactive approach when it comes to risk management can pay dividends further down the line. Look ahead and try to identify potential risks or complications and create strategies to help mitigate them. This should work to minimise the impact unforeseen issues can have on your project timeline.

Constant Review – You should regularly review your construction schedule and make adjustments as needed. Remember, construction projects are dynamic and can change, so building some flexibility into your scheduling can help with timely completion even if you run into problems. 

Methods of Construction Scheduling

Critical Path Method (CPM) – CPM is a project modelling technique that allows you to identify your critical and non-critical tasks. It can help to determine the minimum project lead time and  develop flexible scheduling.

Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) – PERT focuses on identifying the time required for each task, considering uncertainty. It’s useful for projects with a high degree of variability in task durations.

Gantt Charts – Gantt charts visually represent the project timeline. They show time estimates for work and any job dependencies. Gantt Charts are widely used for their simplicity and effectiveness when tracking progress.

Last Planner System (LPS) – LPS is a collaborative scheduling method that involves all stakeholders in planning and managing tasks. It can help to improve workflows and reduce project uncertainties and unknowns. 

Key Challenges in Construction Scheduling

Unforeseen Site Conditions – Unexpected site conditions can cause delays. Thorough site investigations and contingency planning are essential to mitigate this risk.

Weather Conditions – Poor weather conditions can slow or even halt construction. Plan for this by including buffer times in your construction schedule to accommodate weather delays.

Supply Chain Issues – In recent years, we have seen a more volatile global supply chain, with delays and issues having a serious impact on project timelines and cost. While you can’t make yourself immune to this, you can try to minimise disruption by building strong relationships with suppliers and having backup plans in place. 

Labour Availability – Labour shortages can cause massive delays to construction and project progress.  Building a steady workforce through effective recruitment and retention strategies is crucial.

Construction Work Scheduling FAQs

What is construction scheduling?

Construction scheduling is the process of planning and organising tasks, resources, and timelines to ensure a construction project is completed on time and within budget.

How do you create a construction schedule?

To create a construction schedule, define the project scope, develop a work breakdown structure, identify resources, estimate task durations, establish dependencies, create a timeline, implement risk management, and regularly review and adjust the schedule.

What are the common scheduling methods in construction?

Common scheduling methods include the Critical Path Method (CPM), Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT), Gantt charts, and the Last Planner System (LPS).

What challenges are faced in construction scheduling?

Challenges include unforeseen site conditions, adverse weather, supply chain issues, and labour availability. Effective planning and risk management strategies help mitigate these challenges.


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