Construction Project Planning Simplified

job site imageConstruction project planning involves varying levels of complexity. From scheduling and deadlines to project completion and everything else in between, construction project managers are virtually juggling bowling balls on a constant basis.

It’s no wonder why projects in many cases fail to meet expectations and results. According to one study, fewer than 10% of all projects are actively managed and completed on time.

With this in mind, we have simplified construction project planning and condensed it down to five easy manageable steps that any construction project manager can use. Now the busiest project manager will be able to provide a reliable estimate of when a construction project will be complete, and will have a dependable tool to manage the project meeting all deadlines.

1.     Plan as a Team for Better Results

The key to any project running on time and on budget is to plan in sufficient detail and bring the entire team into the planning process. This allows the project manager to more accurately estimate how long each step will take.

With the input of team members, it’s much easier to balance workloads and estimate timelines with greater precision.

When people are more engaged in the decision-making process, they perform better because they feel that they have a real stake in the outcome. The best way to accomplish this is to capture data and other pertinent information live with an editable mind map during your construction project planning meetings.

A mind map is a project planning tool that is designed to make the capturing of pertinent data and ideas simple. Using a mind map with your team makes it much easier to create, read and edit in real time than using a word document or spreadsheet.

construction planning - mind map

2.     Identify the Big Tasks First

Planning is only one part of the equation. You have to execute, monitor, and control the project. Ultimately, you’re responsible for its successful conclusion.

The best way to begin this process is to start by identifying the big tasks and breaking them into smaller tasks. Do this until each task can be accomplished in shorter and more manageable time frames.

Break up big, vague tasks like “site work” into a larger number of more specific tasks. This will enable you to estimate, with much greater accuracy, the time needed to complete the entire project.

construction planning - mind map - site work detail

3.     Assign Tasks and Chart the Schedule

Once you have identified all the major tasks in your construction project, the next step is to assign tasks and establish timelines with a project chart.

Convert your mind map into a table showing each task, the person or sub-contractor who will do it, the start date and how long it will take. This is called a Gantt chart. Be realistic about the workload of each person. Spread the tasks out so that a new one doesn’t begin until the previous one is complete. If the work of one person, or sub-contractor, has to be complete before a task performed by someone else can start, build this in, too. Be sure to take outside circumstances like holidays and weekends into account. A good project management software program will automatically do this for you.

construction planning - gantt chart - site work detail

4.     Estimate the Completion Date and Monitor Progress

The end date of your last task tells you when your project will be complete. Update your chart with the actual dates of completion for each task as the project progresses. This will tell you, at a glance, whether your construction project is on schedule. If it’s not, you will know precisely how far it is behind so you can make better management decisions.

5.     Follow-up, Communicate and Complete the Project

As you progress towards completion and continually use your project chart, what you will find is it has become a ‘living document.’ What that means is that updates can take place continuously and everyone on the team refers to the document regularly. Once work begins on the project, you can monitor the completion of each task and adjust the schedule accordingly. Updating and sharing your construction project plan with the entire team keeps everyone on track and accountable-both to you and the other team members.

This over-arching communication and follow-up process not only keeps your team up-to-date on the tasks at hand on your current project, but as a construction project manager you will be able to assess any bottle necks and other stumbling blocks that will allow you to better estimate the planning of future projects.

The outcome is better communication and increased team accountability, leading to projects that stay on track and get completed on time.

And the best surprise is no more surprises.

Was this information helpful to you? Is there something else you’d like to read about? Please let me know in the comments section below. And as always, thanks for reading the SmartDraw Blog.

2 Responses to “Construction Project Planning Simplified”

  1. Michael Buka April 27, 2014 at 12:08 am #

    Hi Rich, what you’ve written here is very helpful and encouraging. I’m hopeful you can follow this up with more posts on project management and how to organise a powerful Powerpoint presentation. Thanks very much.

    • Rich Earle August 21, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

      Thank you, Michael, for the terrific comments. We will certainly have a numer of content ideas related to presentations, projects and other topics. All the best

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