Any construction process, big or small, involves different phases. These phases were created to keep activities organized in a step-by-step manner so that none of them gets left out. They also serve as a good guide to the team so errors will be minimized. But the basis for the success of a project greatly relies on the planning phase. Here, the owner lays down the objective of the project, and from there the plan is developed. From there, design, activities, and schedules are defined.
Without a proper plan, the operations can go astray and lead to costly errors. Hence, a well-crafted plan is necessary to achieve smooth operation and a successful outcome.
So today, let’s look at the basic processes used by some of the established construction firms in mapping out a potentially successful project plan.
Project Planning in Construction
Long-time construction professionals would attest that planning is at the heart of a construction project life cycle. The planning phase basically guides everyone in a construction team to where they’re going to get there.
The construction plan is drafted by the key players in a project (today mostly on Project Management (PM) software) who put all the foreseen activities in a document. Project deliverables and requirements are then defined before the schedule of all activities is plotted. The use of materials, tools, machines, and equipment is also strategized alongside the timing of activities.
The general objectives of project planning are to:
- Recognize business requirements
- Define necessary costs, schedule, list of deliverables, and delivery dates
- Establish resources needed
But in planning, it is a common practice to create several alternative routes in case the team meets unexpected problems that can cause delays. So expect to make sets of your plan before you have them approved by the owner. Check our previous blog about the common causes of construction delays and how to mitigate their effects to help you create this set of plans.
Also, like we mentioned earlier, a construction project involves several phases, and defining them can help project managers draft their corresponding activities a lot easier.
Planning should be done with careful attention since this phase of construction is what will help project managers manage time, cost, quality, changes, risk, and other related issues. Plans also help control the crew members and suppliers to ensure that the project will be delivered on time and within the budget.
In short, a good plan is what will drive your project to the organization, and your team’s ability to follow the plan is what will bring you to success.
To help you realize your construction objectives and plans, let’s now discuss how the project planning phase should really be done.
Basics of Project Planning
As mentioned earlier, the planning phase is where the objectives are refined since these become the bases for the design and the main plan. The objectives are gathered by the owner during the initiation phase where he can be guided by consultants and his trusted construction experts. Planning the necessary steps and resources to meet those objectives then comes next.
When articulating the objectives of a construction project, it helps to follow the S.M.A.R.T. rule:
- Specific: Goals of the project should be specific such as key milestones and their deadlines.
- Measurable: Set a measure for success to know whether your project if it is good enough or not and whether your activities will lead you to achieve the objective or not.
- Attainable: Make sure that the goal you set and the activities you assign in achieving them are attainable. If not, then consider making adjustments.
- Realistic: In line with setting attainable goals and steps, you should also make sure that they are realistic and not stressful for your crew. Allot the right span of time for finishing each phase and set an allowance for fixing errors.
- Timely: Finally, set realistic time frames on when your goals can be achieved.
Project managers are usually appointed to describe precisely the activities and resources needed. They then consult with their team leaders and subcontractors about the lead time of completion of every activity, who should do them, and the resources needed per step. Likewise, they get the lead time of arrival of materials from suppliers. All these will be specified with great detail on the project plan.
That said, when a project manager fails to do a good job at articulating the plan, the whole team will be misdirected and the outcome will definitely be far from the objective. This is why It’s important to take time in finding a competent project manager and the right project management software to help come up with the right plan.
But planning isn’t always easy, most especially for first-time project managers and when project management tools don’t exist. And even for experienced managers, the project planning phase is always considered the most challenging part of a construction. It can either make or break a construction company so you should make your educated guess as close as the actual operation as you could.
Looking at previous projects with similar objectives can help you draft the activities, schedule, and budget more accurately. This is where cloud-based project management software becomes truly useful.
Now looking into the process of mapping out a good construction plan, project managers should try to follow this procedure:
- Plan the project scope – with an objective as a guide, project managers should now be able to specify the in-scope requirements needed in breaking down the activities involved in each phase.
- Break down the work structure – breaking down the project phases into tasks and sub-tasks.
- Develop the project schedule – with the activities defined, the next step is to plot the schedule by assigning due dates to each task.
- Identify the resources needed – from the set of activities needed in each phase, identify the special skills you will need as well as the tools and equipment required to carry out the tasks.
- Plan the budget – the estimate isn’t final and now that you have a clear consultation with the project owner and the activities laid out, you should now be able to come up with a more accurate budget. Include t the budgets for your subcontractors and suppliers too.
- Plan material procurement – apart from the cost of your materials, take into consideration too how you will transport your materials and whether you need a warehouse for them or not. These factors also add to your construction cost so be sure to include them in the plan.
- Plan your risk management – check for possible risks and causes of delays and draft a contingency or mitigation plan. This is why we suggested earlier to prepare other sets of the plan in case your team faces problems along the way.
- Set quality criteria – to know whether the project will end up meeting the construction objective, you should set quality criteria, and when to check progresses on the site.
- Plan your communication – in construction using phones and emails is already obsolete.
The trend today is using project management software where communication and collaboration are done in real-time. The ability to share files across your secured network also makes communication more efficient plus being able to open it on tabs, PCs, mobile phones, and laptops gives crew members no excuses to miss an update. This eliminates misunderstanding between the office and the site, putting them all on the same page.
Tips on Drafting a Perfect Construction Plan
Now that you know about the processes of creating a construction plan, let’s talk about how to draft a good one.
- Design the Construction Project
Check whether the project is feasible or not and what it’s going to take to get the job done. To do that, you can start by creating a Project Initiation Document (PID). This document should describe the following so you can quickly assess whether your team is really capable of taking the project or not:
- People: based on the project objective, identify the number of crew members needed to complete the job. Also include the number of subcontractors. Then look at the number of people you currently have in your team and your ability to hire new ones if there is a deficit.
- Resources: Are the necessary materials for this project available locally? If not, do you have the ability to import?
- Budget: Check the total cost of the project. Can the owner fund it? Can you work around the budget that the owner sets without suffering from any loss?
- Draft the Initial Plan
Turn your PID into a more concrete and detailed plan following the SMART rule. Scrutinize the steps and use them to see how you can actually realize the plan. Then assess whether you and your team are really capable of carrying them out.
- Finalize and Execute the Plan
After feeling satisfied with your plan, finalize the document and call for a team meeting. Start orienting them about the objective, the plan, schedule, and budget then start assigning responsibilities.
Layout your expectations and allow them to share their opinion or ask a question. When everything is clear, then you can start executing the plan on the site.
- Track Your Crew’s Performance
Planning doesn’t end at the pre-construction phase. Plans may change depending on unexpected circumstances so It’s always wise to continuously track your team’s performance. This way, you will also know whether your project will be late or not. If it looks like it’s going to be delayed, then you can immediately do adjustments so you can still deliver the project on time.
To help you, set some key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor the performance of your crew. Your KPIs can include monitoring for:
- Project objectives status
- Project performance rate
- Project quality
- Close and Re-evaluate Your Output
Every finished project should be re-evaluated to see whether you achieved the goals or not. If not, look into the phases where you went wrong and plan for corrective measures. When you set a clear project plan since the beginning, the re-evaluation of the project shouldn’t be difficult.
Also, this present project can be your guide in tweaking your next project. When you find mistakes in the present project, then note them down and avoid them in the next. You can document them on your project management software so you can review them readily when drafting the new plan. And maximize your success.
Construction project planning can be extremely is extremely complex. There are so many factors to consider like tasks, schedule, budget, resources, and mitigation strategies. But with these simple steps and tips, we just shared. you can surely have a smoother time in writing plans for any construction project.
And above all, you should encourage your team to be strategic and responsive to ensure that all plans are followed.
Draft a perfect plan for your next construction software. Do it with the help of a reliable project management software like Pro Crew Schedule.