Adjusting schedules is a core tenet of project management, and on dynamic construction projects the process is loaded with obstacles. That’s because projects are often not well conceived, leading to systemic errors.
One of the biggest errors made on modern construction projects is trying to build with an unrealistic schedule. Optimism runs rampant early on, and that infects the schedule with ‘blue sky.’ You want to temper optimism, but you can’t let pessimism rule either because then you’re scheduling with fear. Here are some tips for adjusting the schedule while walking the razor thin line between hope and fear.
Get Critical About Your Critical Path
On every project, there is a series of tasks that you have to finish on time so you can finish the entire project on time. That’s the critical path.
If your project is to install and paint drywall in one room, and you don’t finish installing the drywall on time, you’ll be delayed painting it, which delays the whole project. But, if you’re building a three story hotel and you don’t finish installing the drywall on the second floor on time, you’re not necessarily delaying the entire project because painters can work on other floors where drywall is complete.
With construction cameras, you can actively monitor this critical path, without having to be onsite. When you focus on the critical path as you adjust the schedule, you open up possibilities for new efficiency and quicker completion. You might add a shift, schedule in some labor-saving equipment or reorder some tasks so you can shorten time spent on an activity on the critical path. That in turn, can shorten your project timeline. Just make sure the time saver you choose doesn’t push you over your budget.
Time Really Is On Your Side
There is only so much of it, yet many construction schedules look as if there is no end to it. If crews complete the activity before the scheduled time, then you’ve likely got idle resources. Whenever time runs out on an activity, and it’s not complete, then something else won’t get started on time. When you spot this, the fear sets in.
Immediately, you look for ways to speed things up. Why not add another crew, you think? Or, maybe have people work overtime. But, in the first case you need the right amount of materials, equipment, tools and space. In the second, you’ve got the risks of pouring more money into the task without much gain. But, you do have another option.
Maybe you can increase efficiency. Would a different piece of equipment make the difference? How about a new tool, or even reordering the sequence of tasks? You might gain efficiency by better placement of materials or necessary components. Walk over to the location, or use construction cameras to observe activities. How can you improve the efficiency of what’s currently going on? Faster is not always better, and in the case of keeping the quality up, it’s often worse.
Don’t Fear The Other Shoe Dropping
There is fear that comes with a schedule that’s working really well. Almost too well, you think. Before long you start getting a little fearful about what’s going to happen to throw it all out of whack. So, you start tinkering with the schedule to try to fix things that could go wrong. Instead, why not start looking for opportunities?
A smooth running schedule is your chance to focus on places where you can improve efficiency and resource use. Things are calm, so take the time to make adjustments that improve task and activity efficiencies.
Here’s one way to start. Look at any activity you have to complete before another activity can begin. Study the work breakdown structure on that activity to see whether it’s logical and ordered properly. Here’s an example:
You look at the WBS for gable-end framing and you see that both ends of the roof aren’t scheduled for framing until the entire set of trusses are placed. It might be possible to tweak the schedule so that gable-end framing begins on one end shortly after trusses start going up. Once all the rest of the trusses are up you then only have the second gable-end to frame, saving you some time. Another idea is to colocate materials that are common to nearby activities. There are many ways to take advantage of a smooth running schedule that will pay off big time. Just take the time to do it.
The best-run projects have realistic schedules founded on accurate resource assessments. But even then, there’s always some fear. Keep your optimism and pessimism in balance while you do the inevitable schedule adjustments.
TrueLook construction cameras are ideal for any monitoring schedules and realizing efficiencies. For a more in-depth look at how construction cameras can aid, check out a demo here.