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Make Good Time: How to Create a Proactive Project Schedule


Fight or Flight

You're not at your best when you're stressed. Your heart pounds, your breathing quickens and your forehead sweats. In fact, your body has evolved and perfected itself over millennia to do so. Your brain releases cortisol in stressful situations. This action modulates your adrenaline levels and inhibits rational, logical thinking – potentially helping you survive. 

In your case, instead of fleeing death by lion like our paleolithic brethren, you experience stress while managing the chaos of a jobsite. Whether fielding angry phone calls from owners, or contacting subcontractors seeking payment, unnecessary stress isn’t healthy for you or your projects. 

You already have the hardest job of orchestrating the chaos of construction. So why make it more difficult by taking a reactive approach to your team’s schedule?

REactive versus PROactive project schedules. 

These three letters can make all the difference between success and failure.

Reactive scheduling starts with a haphazard approach to the planning process. It then continues with trying to keep up with putting out fires in the field. Ultimately, you end up deviating from the negotiated delivery date and at risk for litigation. In this scenario, the project drives the schedule.

Proactive scheduling involves a coordinated effort before ground breaks. It involves careful research, foresight, and intentioned planning that –if executed correctly– leads to the plan and schedule driving the project.

Forcing the Schedule to Drive the Project

Early identification of issues promotes early resolution of issues. Here are 5 ways to stay ahead:

Constant Communication 

The ongoing use of the schedule as a communication tool to can help preemptively identify, address, and resolve project issues. To accomplish this, the contractor’s project management must be committed to a level of openness with various project participants. Teams can then take cooperative measures to standardize business processes and execute risk mitigation plans. 

Embrace Analytics 

Data analysis isn’t the next big thing — it’s today’s big thing. If you don’t make the most of it now, you’ll fall behind. And not just behind schedule, the competition as well. Data analysis can transform your approach to project delivery from schedule foresight to increased real-time productivity analysis. Consistent tracking and analysis of progress requires a level of scheduling discipline that is often lacking, but where it exists the rewards are substantial. 

Effective Documentation 

When you don't harness the knowledge gained from construction projects, you miss out on important insights related to project success. But perhaps more damaging, you miss out on insights that you can use to drastically improve your processes on future projects. A carefully monitored project plan and schedule will identify most issues as, or even before, they surface. Effective reporting procedures allow key decision makers and problem solvers to stay in the loop daily. This allows them to resolve issues before they become serious or get out of control.

Risk Management 

This aspect of proactive construction scheduling depends on the implementation of the previous three proactive scheduling techniques. Without constant communication, data analysis, and effective documentation, issues will often not be identified early enough for a quick resolution. 


Accountability can enhance motivation and productivity. Surveys suggest that 91% of employees who feel accountable for a certain task are more motivated to complete quality work on-time. By giving teams accountability prior to groundbreak, teams will feel pressure to perform. They will also be more likely to step up to challenges and speak out about issues, without the need for you to micromanage teams.  

Ultimately, a proactive schedule is one that is constantly learning, adapting, and evolving to survive its surroundings. Mastering these skills can help to save your team time, money, and create a better working atmosphere amongst your teams. It might even improve your stress levels.

Want more? 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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