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6 Common Scheduling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


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The demands and pressures placed on you everyday are greater now than ever before. 

Information hits you faster than you can digest it. Jobs are put on your plate faster than your team can handle them. Communication moves at neck-breaking speeds. All of this makes finding ways to fit as much work into your team’s day nearly impossible.

Success lives at the intersection of time and money.

Your struggle is far from unique. Projects often fail, and sometimes drastically. At least 85 percent of all projects go over budget to some degree. Of these projects, over 70 percent overshoot their closeout date.

No one has twenty-five hours in their day; we all have twenty-four. How we manage those hours can lead to a competitive advantage, increased bottom lines, and happier owners.

So how do we create order from chaos?

If drawings are the lifeblood of construction, then the project schedule is the heart. Like an indispensable organ your project schedule constantly pumps life into the everyday functions required for your team’s survival. 

To keep projects on track, set realistic time frames, assign resources appropriately and manage quality to decrease product errors. 

In today’s intensely competitive construction environment, superior planning, intentioned agility, and control are vital to achieving project objectives. 

Here are 6 common scheduling mistakes that, when corrected, can help improve your company’s success rates.

1. Unrealistic Resource Pool

Every company has a set amount of unique resources available for a project. Problems and delays occur when schedules are set in place without considering available resources or with the unstated assumption that there are unlimited resources. When creating your schedule, maintain a realistic sense of available resources. Critical resources can be properly utilized and allocated with this level of planning, and delays can be avoided that result from waiting for resources to become available.

2. Missing Dependencies 

Within every construction schedule there is a logical order of dependencies. If not properly defined, missing dependencies can lead to more than just missed deadlines. It can lead to difficulties in arguing fault during litigation, arbitration, or lawsuit. As a simple example, wall foundations must be constructed before the walls themselves, and this must be properly represented on the schedule. Schedules should be thoroughly checked to ensure all dependencies are in the proper logical order to avoid delays. 

3. Lack of Detail 

A lack of dependencies can lead to a lack of detail. One way that project managers get rid of this stress is by providing a simplified high-level view of daily tasks. This is fine for providing insight at a glance, as long as more detail is available at a sub-task level. As your build progresses, details should be regularly added to the to the critical path and fully describe the work needed for implementation. 

4. Lack of Contingency 

Overseeing schedules isn’t a great task for optimists. This is the sort of thing that is better suited for the overly cautious. They recognize that “things happen,” and allocate extra funds or buffer time to handle the unknowns. Using this method, when a schedule is updated the completion date is justified based on actual progress. This scope of reference makes it easier for owners to cope with added overhead.

5. Lack of Concurrency

Claims of concurrent delay are used as both a sword and a shield in fighting delay claims. A contractor may use concurrency to defend against a claim for liquidated damages by an owner, while an owner may use it to ward off the contractor’s pursuit of delay costs. This grows out of the developing trend by courts and arbitration panels to require critical path analysis as defense against delay claims.

6. Lack of Documentation 

Concurrency leads us to the need for proper, accurate, and consistent documentation. Having a well organized and integrated system of documents that spans all stages of construction could mean economic life or death. It also allows for decision makers to stay in the loop and make informed decisions that can prevent delays from occurring. Inherent in today’s litigious nature of business is the need to document virtually every aspect of one’s activities. In delay disputes, the party with the best records has a great advantage. 

To organize and complete your projects in a timely and financially responsible manner, you need to schedule projects carefully. To keep projects on track, set realistic time frames, assign resources appropriately and manage quality to decrease product errors. This typically results in reduced costs and increased owner satisfaction. 

To learn more about avoiding common scheduling mistakes, Click here to download the entire free eBook, "Project Management Guide Part 2." And don't miss Part 3: Project Controls.

Did you miss part 1? Click here.

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