Have you ever tried managing a construction project for the first time, only to find out that you would not be able to hit your target completion dates? For anyone involved with the project management of construction, we know how difficult it is to create a project baseline and meet the original conditions of the project.
Often, causes of delays are mismanagement, miscommunication, logistics, poor weather, labor shortage, and other unforeseen events that are out of the company’s hands. These can result in work stoppage for days, weeks, or even months. It can be frustrating for both the contractor and the client as both can suffer losses.
During the planning stage of the project, the contractor must be able to account for all possible causes of the delays and to be able to lay out a reasonable schedule. We must reach an agreement with the client to avoid any unrealistic expectations for the project. Setting up the baseline of the project is one way to do so.
Read on to find out what a project baseline is, its importance, and discover five valuable tips that can help you hit that construction target.
WHAT IS A PROJECT BASELINE?
The baseline of the project, by dictionary definition, refers to the fixed starting point of your project. This serves as your reference to check the progress or percentage of completion for your project over time.
Let us think of it this way, you still need 1500$ to finish the project, but the remaining budget is only half of what is required. By comparing the current data with the project cost baseline, you will see which areas went over the budget.
In setting up an effective project baseline, you will need to define the following aspects:
1. Scope of Works
What are the project deliverables to the client?
You should be able to identify where the extent of your scope starts and where it ends. Detail the list of activities, as well as the individual tasks and subtasks of each group. Through this, we will be able to see the sequence of activities, the relationship of one activity to another, and which ones would be critical for completion.
Does the client need to have this project delivered in a specific amount of time?
Using the activity sequence defined in the scope of works, map out the scheduling in the construction project by defining the duration for each activity, specific due dates, and deadlines. Analyze where you can allocate your resources to shorten the activity duration and meet the client’s deadline.
Do not forget to consider any possible delays as well!
Would your project duration be in the middle of the rainy or winter season?
Is your project site easily accessible? Would it be hard for logistics to access?
Would the workers accept the project? Are there any factors that may cause a shortage of labor?
How much would the project cost?
Lastly, prepare a cost estimate to ensure that you have a sufficient budget to finish the project. Consider all direct, indirect, and overhead costs. From utilities, rent, admin documentation works to permits and licensing, mobilization, logistics, material, labor – even in hourly rates just in case you need to implement over time.
IMPORTANCE OF A PROJECT BASELINE
As we have discussed earlier, the project’s baseline plays a crucial role in effectively managing construction. In this section, we will list out its importance and benefits when utilized well.
1. Better Cost, Resource, and Inventory Monitoring
By reviewing your baseline, resources needed for a specific period of activity can be ordered and delivered on time. Construction materials such as cement, structural steel bars, and paints are often subject to supplier lead times. The contractor would have to wait for weeks to receive the items if not ordered on time.
You can monitor your inventory as well to make sure that all items are accounted for. This will also aid in making sure that the workers will be mindful in using the materials can reduce any unnecessary wastage or loss.
2. Improved Quality Control
By clearly defining your scope of works, you can efficiently deliver the project to the client and keep them satisfied.
For example, let us say that the project you received was the renovation of a one-bedroom apartment. The color of the wall paint was specified, but the wall finish was not. Was it supposed to be in Flat or in Semi-Gloss?
Failing to identify your scope means that the project delivered could be of sub-standard quality and would fail to meet the client’s expectations.
3. Detailed Performance Assessments and Delay Monitoring
For example, a project was supposed to be 85% completed this month. But in actuality, the project is only at 60%. Comparing your progress with the baseline can assess how everything that is involved in the project is performing. We can answer the following questions:
- What was the cause of the delay?
- What action plan should we implement to compensate for the delay?
- What can we do to prevent this from reoccurring in future projects?
HOW CAN YOU EFFECTIVELY HIT CONSTRUCTION TARGET DATES?
Hitting any construction target dates are, of course, no easy feat for anyone – even for experienced project managers. From start to finish, one must be able to monitor every aspect of the project. Of course, it may sound daunting as it is a lot on the shoulders of one single person. But here are 5 Valuable Tips that we have compiled to help effectively hit your construction targets.
MEMORIZE ALL ASPECTS OF THE PROJECT PLANS
Know your project by heart. Familiarize with every component – from the project definition, plan details, material quantities. Even the minor and intricate details as to who should be handling a specific task can help you keep your project on track.
Immediately identifying the areas of concern early on in the planning stage is a great way to save time and resources for both client and contractor. You can be more focused on how to solve the problem instead of identifying what the problem is.
WHIP UP A CONTINGENCY PLAN
As discussed earlier, delays are almost inevitable when it comes to the management of a construction project. It pays to whip up a contingency plan in the early stages of the project to account for all possible concerns and causes of delays. It is always better to prepare for something that may not happen instead of struggling to find a solution when the problems are already there.
COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY
Communication is essential in everyday life, and the construction business is no exception. For a project manager, communicating regularly with your consultants, subcontractors, suppliers, and clients reduces any chance of miscommunication. It can aid in making sure that the project is smooth sailing.
Some ways to maximize communication with concerned parties are regular email correspondence, design and construction coordination meetings, and efficient document-sharing software.
IMPROVE YOUR EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY
It is crucial to know your employees – not only their skills but also their attitude towards work. By placing the right person for the right job, your company’s productivity and overall morale will significantly increase.
Currently, there had been a rise in job openings in the United States. Employers desperately seek a solution for the impending labor shortage. Most workers are looking for stability, wages, and benefits that will correctly compensate them for the responsibility and amount of work. You can do this by keeping an open line with the workers, listening to their suggestions, and offering them competitive pay and a clear career path.
USE A CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING SOFTWARE
With the continuous evolution of technology in this fast-paced world, businesses have utilized the internet and the cloud in their processes and day-to-day operations. The construction industry still has a long way to go. Most contractors are slow to adapt to new technologies, still preferring the old and traditional way. Today, there are many digital solutions to simplify the processes and make things easier for everyone involved.
Using construction scheduling software is a great tool to help you keep track of your project baseline and its progress. Here are the features and benefits that come with using software:
- Keep all your project information and documents in one place – accessible to everyone, anytime and anywhere.
- Easily assign a task to an individual and schedule work shifts during the project duration.
- Monitor the costs, remaining budgets, and materials inventory and delivery.
- Observe project performance and worker productivity in real-time.
- Ease office-to-field communication, where any document, job orders, or change orders will be available online for easier reference.
- Immediately identify any potential problems and plan accordingly.
The first important step in managing a construction project is to always define your project scope, cost, and schedule baselines before the start of construction. This can help you deliver the project in a concise and timely manner earning the client’s satisfaction and expectations.