Construction planning 101: an essential guide

Construction planning 101: an essential guide

Construction planning can be a very involved process given the industry’s unique logistical challenges. Keep reading for construction planning tips, insights, and processes.

What is construction planning?

Construction planning is the process of managing resources to facilitate the delivery of various outcomes (i.e. project completions or even higher level tasks such as company restructuring).

It’s an essential piece of the construction management puzzle since resources in motion incur significant financial and operational costs. If the proper planning wasn’t conducted to ensure those resources were allocated correctly, significant cost overruns may be unavoidable.

Essential tips for construction planning and management

Understand the stages of planning in construction management

The various aspects of construction planning all have their place in the process. Knowing the stages of planning in construction management is therefore essential for keeping everything flowing efficiently.

These stages are typically as follows:

  1. Pre-design: During this stage, concepts are converted into inputs for construction designs. The involved parties will weigh the pros and cons of various design options, work towards securing financing, and take other preliminary steps that will move the project forward.
  2. Design: During this stage of planning in construction management, designs are fleshed out to ensure their viability and adherence to regulations. It’s worth noting that the design stage is typically broken up into many stages of its own (i.e. rendering, building information modelling, etc).
  3. Pre-construction: During the preconstruction phase, companies typically secure the resources, permits, and other essentials required to actually begin the construction project.
  4. Construction: Planning doesn’t end once construction has begun. Rather, construction management professionals need to stay engaged and plan ahead in light of the many challenges that can arise during construction projects.
  5. Post-construction: Construction planning during this final stage typically involves coordinating jobsite cleanups, returning rental equipment, and more.

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Understand the types of construction planning

The types of construction planning are as follows:

  • Strategic planning: This form of construction planning identifies project objectives that align with those of all stakeholders. It also identifies the ideal steps towards delivering on those objectives.
  • Operational planning: This type of construction planning is all about ensuring the necessary resources are available to achieve the strategic priorities outlined in the step above. When limitations are identified, operational planners need to propose solutions for overcoming them.
  • Scheduling: This final, granular type of construction planning entails ensuring resources identified and allocated in the prior step are available at the exact moments they’re required (i.e. facilitating rental equipment delivery and personnel scheduling on jobsites).

Use purpose-built construction planning software

The days of planning construction projects using Excel spreadsheets are over. Today, construction management professionals have plenty of purpose-built construction planning software to choose from.

Bridgit Bench is among the most popular. With it, construction managers can conduct:

  • pursuit tracking
  • labor scheduling
  • remote planning sessions
  • resource demand forecasting
  • human resource database maintenance
  • project database maintenance

Learn more about how Bridgit Bench’s functionality compares to that of Excel, a more general tool that lacks core features that make construction planning a breeze in Bridgit Bench.

Bridgit Bench also integrates nicely with a variety of other construction project management tools. Check out this article for a list of workforce management solutions in particular that can be combined with Bridgit Bench to create a feature-rich software suite.

Know which stakeholders need to be involved in the construction planning process

The construction planning process is critical not only for laying any project’s foundation but also doing so in a way that keeps stakeholders engaged and motivated to deliver their best work.

This all starts with including those key stakeholders in the planning process from the get-go. Parties typically involved in construction planning include:

  • project managers
  • resource management professionals
  • clients
  • public relations personnel (who will typically have to explain many of the decisions made during the planning process with other stakeholders, including the public)
  • company executives
  • construction superintendents
  • key subcontractors

On the implementation side, this involvement often includes maintaining open lines of communication through which requests for information (and responses to them) can flow freely. It may also include your construction planning software ‘speaks’ nicely with that of other stakeholders (i.e. subcontractors or general contractors) to ensure information is easily accessible by all parties that need it.

Maintain a single source of truth

During the construction planning process, you’ll inevitably have tons of ideas swirling around. If you don’t keep track of the various iterations (and, most importantly, which ones are the most up-to-date), planning can very quickly become a mess.

This comes back to the importance of dedicated construction planning software, which can serve as your single source of truth and make data accessible via the cloud. No more having to track dozens of spreadsheets emailed between team members!

Be proactive

Successful construction planning professionals are proactive rather than reactive. They don’t plan solely for problems that are just around the corner but also keep in mind issues that might arise in distant project stages (which could be years away on construction projects of significant size).

A key component of this would be strategic human resource planning, which is the process of ensuring a company’s hiring, employee progression coordination, and other key personnel-related activities take future needs into account. This is how savvy management personnel can stay ahead of challenges such as construction’s infamous labor shortage.

Another key component of proactive construction planning would be creating contingency plans for substantial project setbacks (i.e. important personnel or resources becoming unavailable).

Be intentional about choosing technology and project delivery methods

Savvy construction planners ask tough questions about the technology and delivery methods used on any given project. They recognize that sticking with decisions simply because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” typically won’t produce the best results. They’re willing to incorporate new strategies that are deemed better fits – and they leave enough room for these adjustments (i.e. re-training workers).

Life before & after Bridgit Bench

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We hope this article has helped you understand the best practices for effective construction planning. For more construction management tips, visit our blog.

Brandon-Richard Austin Headshot

Brandon-Richard Austin

Brandon-Richard Austin is a writer and content strategist focused on the construction sector. He’s passionate about educating readers on construction management techniques and best practices.