Every construction project has its challenges. That’s why it helps to be familiar with various approaches. In this article, we’ll take a look at some construction schedule types that every professional should know. We’ll also give you some suggestions regarding how to schedule construction projects, regardless of which method you decide is right for you.
What is a construction schedule?
A construction schedule is created to define every task and event in an upcoming project during the planning phase. The plan also lists all the resources needed for each step, as well as how they’ll be divided up between teams throughout all stages of development, from idea through to completion.
A construction schedule should include:
- Relevant deadlines
- Resource management
- Allocated assets
- All project deliverables
- Specific tasks that need to be completed
- Any task dependencies that exist
- Task durations
- Set budgets and costing
Why construction scheduling is important
Construction schedules pull together all proposed elements, including the scope of work, to maintain design integrity and create a comprehensive and efficient plan. The schedule should be created in such a way so that it maximizes the productivity of each contractor or subcontractor.
Scheduling construction projects is also important since it helps with:
- Improving workflows and streamlining projects
- Enhancing communication between all stakeholders
- Managing the buying of materials and critical elements on time and in sufficient quantities
- Achieving the highest level of productivity to complete the project within the targeted timeline and budget
- Improving the planning of resources, including a project’s workforce
- Maximizing quality control measures
- Giving all team members enough time to better plan their activities
- Prioritizing work schedules according to different conditions, such as weather-sensitive activities
Since a construction schedule covers many different bases, using comprehensive construction software for this planning can streamline the project and eliminate any delay risks.
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7 key construction schedule types
1. Line of balance
The line-of-balance scheduling method breaks your project into repetitive chunks (e.g., building a skyscraper, which happens floor by floor). Each graph represents one of those repetitive tasks, with time spread out on the x-axis and the y-axis displaying the work area (e.g., each floor of the building).
As workers make progress on the task, the chart will reflect how long each iteration takes. Given the repetition, you’ll be able to plan resources effectively, as there will be many similarities.
Goodyear developed the line of balance method in the 1940s, and it was later refined by the U.S. Navy.
What is the line of balance method good for?
On projects involving lots of repetition, it can be tricky to discuss your actual progress alongside a formal objective plan. The line of balance method addresses this challenge. It also helps in forecasting your team’s future performance. Both of these advantages are very useful for effective resource and workforce management.
Line of balance disadvantages
The line of balance technique is suited toward assembly line-type tasks with several similar phases. Other construction schedule types would make more sense for tasks not involving that sort of repetition.
It’s also difficult to get an overview of the entire project’s critical path since the line of balance only displays progress on individual activities.
2. Quantitative scheduling
Quantitative scheduling is sometimes referred to simply as Q scheduling. It utilizes bar charts to help you visualize resource quantities, as well as the locations and times they’ll be needed. This is the only method for scheduling in construction management that ties the order of tasks to your expenses per resource.
What is quantitative scheduling good for?
Quantitative scheduling is great for projects involving some repetition and variable quantities of resources.
Quantitative scheduling disadvantages
Quantitative scheduling falls short on projects that involve significant repetition. It’s also a fairly new type of construction schedule. If some collaborators on your project aren’t familiar with it, you may have to spend more time explaining things than is justified by its benefits.
3. Program evaluation and review technique (PERT)
PERT is not construction specific but, as Inc. points out, is useful in organizations that seek to analyze key events and interdependencies along a project’s ideal path to success. In other words, it lays out the milestones that will indicate progress on a project.
What is PERT good for?
PERT lays your schedule out very neatly and allows for differentiation between fixed deadlines and milestones that you, as the contractor, have some flexibility with. It also keeps fixed deadlines top-of-mind and features a layout simple enough to encourage collaboration across many teams, even in the context of complex projects.
PERT also encourages you to create different timelines for activity completion, including the following:
- Optimistic time: This is the best-case scenario.
- Pessimistic time: This is the longest foreseeable time it will take you to complete a task.
- Most likely time: Assuming no major challenges present themselves, this is the time your activity should be completed.
- Expected time: Accounting for problems (which are largely inevitable in construction anyway), this is an estimate of how long it will take you to complete the activity in question.
With these, you’ll be able to communicate your intentions given a few different circumstances.
If you’re running multiple projects that share resources, a PERT chart won’t accurately convey that. PERT can also become quite complicated on projects involving thousands of interdependent tasks, increasing your expenses and maintenance efforts.
Your ability to provide accurate timelines for activity completion will also be limited by your previous expertise. Unless you have access to relevant and useful data, your predictions will likely be way off.
4. Resource-oriented scheduling
As its name would suggest, resource-oriented scheduling puts your available tools at the forefront of planning project completion. The goal is to identify and address situations in which multiple parties will need access to resources at the same time.
What is resource-oriented scheduling good for?
As Chris Hendrickson of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University writes, resource-oriented scheduling is ideal in situations where resources are limited yet essential for a project to be completed properly. This is especially true when those resources are in high demand.
Resource-oriented scheduling disadvantages
This is one of the trickiest types of construction schedules in situations where you have many resources to allocate to several activities throughout your project.
5. Gantt charts
Gantt charts are among the most popular construction schedule types—and for a good reason. They help you visualize your project schedule and make locating the critical path much easier.
Gantt charts typically consist of a calendar with activities and details about them spread out across start and end dates.
What are Gantt charts good for?
Gantt charts are very helpful for finding new ways to look at your project, which will help you identify the best path toward completion. They also simplify the management of projects that involve many overlapping activities. The bar layout makes it very easy to shuffle projects around if overlapping proves to be an issue.
You can find Gantt chart functionality in many different construction software programs, including Bridgit Bench. It’s become quite popular in all types of company management applications as well, with programs like Asana offering their own Gantt chart layouts. This makes it easy for even laymen to understand your project’s progress.
Gantt chart disadvantages
If you have a massive project with hundreds of tasks taking place at the same time, a Gantt chart will quickly become confusing. The bar layout also does not really provide context as to how much work and resources are required for the completion of a particular task—only how long it’s expected to take.
Gantt charts are also impractical for large projects, given how difficult it can be to print all of the relevant information out on a reasonable amount of paper.
6. Last planner system (LPS)
The Last Planner System sees the specificity and detail of your schedule increase as the project deadline approaches. With the Last Planner System, workers start with the deadline in mind and then work backwards to identify strategies for accomplishing each milestone.
What is the Last Planner System good for?
The Last Planner System works very well in situations where collaboration between team members is strong. Team members must make an effort to adequately coordinate completion at each phase of the project. This coordination will take place during “pull plan sessions.” An experienced leader is required to keep these meetings on track.
Last Planner System disadvantages
The Last Planner System tends to exacerbate faults in your team’s cohesion. You may want to try increasing collaboration in other areas (such as workforce planning) before betting the success of entire projects on the fruits of pull plan sessions.
7. Critical path method
The critical path method is perhaps the most popular of all methods for scheduling in construction management. It involves identifying the resources and time required to complete a milestone, as well as how the set goal is relevant to the overall project.
What is the critical path method good for?
The critical path method is valuable when you’re looking to identify the most appropriate sequence in which a project’s tasks must be completed. As its name suggests, it also helps identify the most critical “branch” of your project’s path, allowing you to very easily see which tasks are essential for project completion and what are merely supportive of those tasks.
Critical path method disadvantages
The critical path method may not be the only type of construction schedule you rely on. This is particularly true on projects involving hundreds of interdependent tasks. While you may identify a critical path in such a scenario, you may fail to adequately account for resources required by tasks dependent on those within the path.
In other words, the critical path method is not a one-size-fits-all solution for scheduling construction projects.
What type of construction schedule is right for you?
As any construction professional knows, choosing the right type of schedule is essential for successful project completion. Each type of schedule has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the best choice for a given project will depend on various factors.
For example, the Critical Path Method is well suited for large projects with many interdependent tasks, while Program Evaluation and Review Technique is more appropriate for projects with uncertain task durations.
Line of Balance is often used in construction projects, as it helps to ensure that tasks are completed in a timely manner. Meanwhile, the Critical Chain Method has been gaining popularity in recent years, as it helps mitigate disruptions and the effects of delays.
Regardless, it’s important to carefully consider which schedule is right for the project.
How to schedule a construction project
You may now be wondering how to implement these various types of construction schedules in your company. By far, the easiest way to achieve this is to utilize software that allows you to choose your scheduling method.
Consider beginning with a list of your subcontractors and square away any regulatory details (building codes, etc.) relevant to your project. All methods for scheduling in construction management will also require you to identify key milestones for your project’s completion. They don’t even have to be in order at this stage—just list them.
Then, apply this information to your construction scheduling software, as this will help lay out your best path forward. Most construction software will help you with this step. Learn more about how Bridgit integrates with Procore to improve user synchronization and integration for both apps.
Using a scheduling app such as Bridgit Bench will also provide transparency and communication across all stakeholders during construction projects because it allows for keeping track of updates.
Common mistakes to avoid in scheduling construction projects
Construction scheduling is a crucial aspect of any project, ensuring that tasks are completed on time and within budget. However, there are some common mistakes that can cause delays and other issues that you should avoid in construction scheduling, including the following.
Incorrect project budgeting and timeline estimations
Construction projects can become derailed very quickly when budgets and timeline estimates are not accurately forecasted from the beginning. Without these vital components, allocating resources properly and planning for potential issues can be difficult.
Miscalculations in budgets and timelines can throw off the entire project schedule and potentially impact contracts with clients or stakeholders. It’s important to ensure that any budgets and timelines provided in a construction project are thoroughly researched and deemed realistic by all parties involved before work begins.
By effectively managing budgeting and timeline expectations, construction teams can work towards successful project completion without unnecessary delays or difficulties. Furthermore, proactive management can minimize any potential financial losses and maintain positive working relationships with clients.
Missing steps in your project
The success of any construction project relies on accurate planning and attention to detail. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for crucial steps to be missed in a rush to meet deadlines or cut costs. This can result in major problems down the line, including structural issues, safety hazards, and costly delays.
To prevent these mishaps, it’s important to regularly review plans and double-check that all necessary steps have been completed before moving on to the next stage of the project.
Establishing clear lines of communication among team members can help to ensure that no one overlooks critical tasks. Catching and fixing mistakes early on will also ultimately save time and resources in the long run.
Poor management of resources
Construction projects require a significant amount of materials and resources, but poor management can quickly lead to waste. Without proper oversight, materials may be ordered in excess, or they may not be utilized very efficiently during the building process.
To combat this issue, it’s important to have clear guidelines and processes in place for resource management. Regular evaluations and assessments can ensure that materials are being used efficiently and that any potential waste is minimized.
Construction software such as Bridgit helps you manage a project’s workforce to optimize efficiency while reducing risk. By implementing better resource management practices, construction projects become more sustainable and cost-effective.
Making no backup plans
A backup plan is like an insurance policy. By having a backup plan, you’re protected against the potential loss of time and money if something goes wrong—and when it comes to construction projects, there are a lot of things that can go wrong.
For example, the weather can take a turn for the worse, materials can be delayed, or workers can get sick. If you don’t have a backup plan, you could face serious delays and unexpected costs.
That’s why it’s important to have a backup plan in place before you start a construction project. By taking the time to develop a contingency plan, you can protect yourself against the risk of failure and ensure that your project stays on track.
We hope this guide has been helpful in informing on how to schedule construction projects. You have many methods to choose from, each with its own advantages and disadvantages that are highly suggestive of which projects they’re best suited towards. Happy scheduling!
What is a construction project schedule?
A construction schedule is a tool used by contractors to track the progress of a project. The schedule includes a list of all the activities that need to be completed, as well as the timeframe for each activity.
It’s important for the schedule to be realistic so that professionals working on the project can accurately track progress. The schedule should also be flexible so it can be updated as needs evolve.
Scheduling is a critical part of any construction project and is essential for ensuring that everything is completed on time and within budget.
What are some of the common types of schedules used?
There are different scheduling methods in the construction industry. This industry is broad and complex, with many different scheduling methods to choose from. Two of the most commonly used methods are the Critical Path Method (CPM) and the Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT).
CPM is a mathematical approach that uses activity networks to identify the shortest possible completion time for a project. PERT, on the other hand, is a statistical method that estimates the completion time of a project based on past experience.
While both methods have advantages, CPM is generally considered more accurate, making it the preferred choice for large and complex projects. Other scheduling methods include line of balance, bar charting, and Gantt charts. Ultimately, the best scheduling method for a given project will depend on its size, complexity, and specific requirements.
What construction schedule types are the most popular?
The critical path method (CPM) is perhaps one of the most popular types of scheduling. This technique involves identifying resources and time required to complete milestones, as well as how said goal relates to overall project goals.
What are the 4 parts of a construction schedule?
- Necessary tasks that need to be completed
- Dependencies between various tasks
- Project deadlines and task durations
- Budget planning
How can a construction schedule be managed?
It’s important to create a detailed construction schedule that includes all the tasks that need to be completed and the estimated time for each task.
You’ll need to closely monitor the progress of the work and make sure that each task is completed on time. If there are any delays, it’s important to quickly adapt the schedule so the project stays on track. It’s also crucial to communicate regularly with everyone involved in the project so that everyone is aware of the schedule and knows what needs to be done.
Who is responsible for creating a construction schedule?
Schedules can be created by project managers, contractors, or subcontractors. They help ensure that all the workers on a job are aware of the critical tasks that need to be completed and when those tasks need to be done.
How do you know if a construction schedule is good?
A well-constructed schedule is the backbone of any construction project. It helps ensure that work is completed on time and within budget and that all workers are aware of their responsibilities.
To be effective, a construction schedule must be clear, concise, and easy to understand. It should identify all key milestones and deadlines, listing the resources required for each task. The schedule should be updated on a regular basis to reflect any changes in the project scope or timeline.
What are construction labor schedules?
The construction labor schedule is the estimated amount of time that it’ll take to complete a construction project. The schedule includes the duration of each task, the crew size, and the number of crew members required for each task.
It’s used by contractors to estimate the amount of time and labor required to complete a construction project. Project managers also use it to plan and monitor progress.
Are construction schedules able to be created in Excel?
You can, but there are much better ways to create a construction schedule. Construction scheduling is critical to on-time, on-budget project delivery. The decisions you make today will impact the project schedule for months or even years to come.
While it’s possible to create a construction schedule in Microsoft Excel manually, this process is time-consuming and prone to error. That’s why there are a number of dedicated construction scheduling software tools available that can streamline the process and help ensure accuracy.