Construction projects are notoriously complex and often extend over a long period. In other words, they’re a scheduling nightmare. There tends to be more marks to hit and keep track of, from safety to municipal codes and regulations. It’s more than one person can handle.
Too bad, because one person has been hired to handle it, and that one person is you. True, the bigger the project, the more likely it’s broken up into many smaller projects, each with their own project manager and team address specific concerns. But even those pieces of a larger whole require a great deal of skill, maybe even more than a single project, as those parts must come together at precise times.
So, how do you make a complicated project doable? With construction scheduling software, of course! Construction scheduling programs increase your project efficiency, improve collaboration among your team, add to the overall quality of the work and keep tabs on your financial spend. That’s if you’re building a shed for a farm or a mall for a large urban center, because a good construction scheduling tool can scale with your work.
What construction schedule tool is for you? The one with the right features to ensure that your resources are properly scheduled. What are those features? Well, glad you asked…
Online Gantt Chart
The Gantt chart is a fantastic way to visualize a schedule across a timeline, so you have an overview of the start, finish and all points in-between of your project. It’s a great way to get an idea of your actual progress compared to your planned progress with just a glimpse. It’s important to understand the various features you need in Gantt charts for online construction project scheduling:
- Drag-and-drop scheduling
- Customizable columns and colors
- Planned and actual effort
- Task links and dependencies
- Task attachments
- Printable and shareable
Now lets drill into a few of those. Not only can a Gantt chart place all your tasks, you can also create milestones, which mark the end and beginning of large phases of the project. In construction there are going to be plenty of milestones and tasks, and now you have a way to see them and organize the across the project’s timeline.
As said earlier, construction projects are complicated. There are many moving parts, and tasks don’t exist on an island to themselves. All the complex pieces of the scheduling puzzle have been carefully worked out in the planning, and now as you execute the project the need to remain cognizant of these dependencies is crucial.
That’s where the online Gantt chart can help, as you can connect dependent tasks, so one isn’t started until the previous dependent one has been completed. The task dependencies can also be automated to notify team members of approaching deadlines, so they can adhere to the schedule and avoid blocking other team members.
Construction work schedules change. Your beautifully crafted schedule isn’t written in stone. There will come a time, many times, over the course of the project in which some external force will push your schedule and you’ll need to edit due dates or task durations. One change is going to impact other dates on that schedule, but an online Gantt chart is easy to adjust without having to create a new one every time there is a change. Just drag-and-drop the taskbar to reflect your change.
You don’t think of collaboration when you think about construction, or construction scheduling. Maybe you’d collaborate on the planning, but once the schedule has been created and approved, it’s more a matter of following it than coming together to collaborate. The schedule must be conformed to meet the project deadline.
Yes and no. The schedule might be in place, but that place can be a platform on which your team can collaborate to work more efficiently and meet that schedule. With an online Gantt chart, you’re getting data delivered in real-time. When a team member updates their status, it’s instantly reflected on the construction scheduling program.
Because the software is in real-time, you team can manage their tasks on the timeline you created in the Gantt chart. They can collaborate at the task level, where they can comment and create a dialogue around the task to collect any questions or comments. They can also have attached related files, images and links, again at the task level, so all that data is captured in one place and archived for easy searching.
The more you can delegate to your team, with the knowledge that they have the tools to stay on top on their tasks, the more you can focus your attention on more appropriate matters.
A construction project schedule isn’t solely about tasks. To get your tasks done, you need resources, which also must be scheduled. With the right schedule maker, construction work is no longer as rigid. You have greater accessibility to data when it’s online, regardless of where you are or what time of day or night it is.
Resources are the other side of the scheduling coin, and you need a construction software tool that can work seamlessly with managing your resources and your schedule. There are many features to look for in construction resource scheduling tools:
- Online timesheets
- Resource allocation
- Workload balancing and management
- Work schedules and calendars
- Availability tracking
Construction work has lots of resources to schedule. There’s your team, of course, but there’s also equipment, both light and heavy. You’re probably going to have contracts with many vendors and outside contractors, plus all the building materials you’ll need for whatever construction project you’re working on. It’s a lot of stuff to keep track of and schedule with your tasks.
You’ve already listed the tasks and their dependencies, but now you should consider the resources. To start, calculate the resource demand. That means, how much time and resources are you going to need and allocated for each task. It will determine the duration of that task.
Don’t forget about your most valuable resource, your team. Their time must be scheduled as well. That’s where online timesheets come into the resource scheduling picture. Now you have access to when they’re on the job and when they’re off because of holidays, personal or vacation days. With this information you’re able to refine your schedule so you have the proper mix of resources to accomplish the tasks on your schedule.
You’ll also need to schedule the resource capacity, or the amount of resources you’ll need. You can use the online workload tol to balance the availability of your team, tools, equipment, space or whatever other resources you’re going to need. You can then track how much work your team accomplishes on any given day, as their statuses are reflected in real-time on your construction scheduling software, which helps you adjust the workload. Then using your online timesheet, you can assign your team to tasks for a more efficient resource schedule. See how all these features work together?
There are more features that can help you better schedule your construction project and keep it on track, such as tools to track and report in real-time, when you’re using a cloud-based construction management software like ProjectManager.com. Every phase of your project, from planning and scheduling to task management and dashboard monitoring, is taken care of when you use ProjectManager.com. Try it for yourself with this free 30-day trial.