With an uptick in the US construction market for many types of buildings there’s pressure to fill all sorts of construction-related jobs, including that of construction scheduler. A good construction scheduler is difficult to find and, given the uneven workload due to the nature of the construction industry, there may not be justification for a general or subcontractor to hire one full time. If you’re a contractor considering construction schedule outsourcing, follow these recommendations for a successful relationship with your construction scheduler and for an on-time finish for your project.
- Have realistic expectations–A scheduler cannot alone rescue a project that is behind schedule, although he or she can tell you by how much the building is behind and where in the schedule the problem is and even make recommendations for how best to get back on schedule. View the scheduler as someone who can provide you data and assist you in developing an understanding of what has happened and what will likely happen over the remainder of the project. In addition, a good scheduler will be a good analyst; he or she will be able to assess what transpired through analyses like TIAs (Time Impact Analyses) and to model and report on possible scenarios for the remainder of the project.
- Dedicate internal resources to be responsible for communicating and working with the scheduler–Identify who in your organization will be the primary point of contact for the scheduler. This is often the Project Executive or Project Manager for the job. By having one point of contact communications are simplified and the chance of miscommunications is minimized. Beyond a single point of contact, you’ll need to plan on additional demands for other resources within your organization if your construction schedule outsourcing is going to be successful. Those most familiar with the job such as foremen, sub-contractors and engineers should be made available to participate in defining the scope of the project by confirming that all tasks necessary to complete the job are included in the plan, to participate in logic sessions (in which the tasks for the job are sequenced), to assist with developing estimates for task durations and/or labor hours, to provide progress updates and to define revisions to the plan and how they should be incorporated.
- Establish an online repository for project documents–Don’t fall into the inefficient trap of emailing files back and forth. Inevitably someone will be looking at an old version of the file and people will spend time combing through their inbox looking for the appropriate one. Save all that time and frustration by using Box.com, Dropbox.com or any other of the many cloud-based applications that at the least provide a central repository for the necessary documents, including the schedule. If appropriate, other capabilities of these applications such as chat, discussion boards and high-level project management can be used as well. An established firm that provides construction schedule outsourcing probably has a system in place for this.
- Make the project drawings and other relevant documentation available to the scheduler–The more the scheduler understands the project the better he or she will be able to develop a schedule that reflects the actual building to be built in the desired time frame and the fewer questions the scheduler will have for your personnel thereby freeing them up to work on other tasks. In addition, the scheduler may be able to assist with risk identification and management and even with what the best workflow is to move through the site efficiently. As an example, Schedule Associates International is currently developing a schedule for the construction of a 12-story building that is being erected less than five feet from an existing building that is an historic landmark. That distance and the sensitivity surrounding the landmark suggest that it would be ideal to finish work on the portion of the new building’s envelope that is closest to the landmark building as expeditiously as possible and then move on to the other three sides of the new building.
- Agree on a schedule for when schedule updates, narratives and more formal reports should be generated–You as the contractor know when the owner expects schedule-related reports, what your need is for schedule updates in order to submit pay applications and what other requirements are in place regarding schedule progressing and reporting. Communicate these to the scheduler and agree on a corresponding schedule and day of the week or month for each type of update, revision and report. Typically the more formal extensive reports such as the project narrative will be done less frequently, often monthly, while updates will be done more frequently such as on a weekly basis.
- Determine who will be responsible for progress updates based on assessments made at the site–The construction scheduler is often not at the job site on a regular basis. In this case, someone in the general contractor’s organization should be designated to be responsible for objectively assessing what has been accomplished at the site since the last update and communicating this progress to the scheduler. This may be the foreman or someone else who is onsite on a daily or frequent basis. The scheduler will typically provide a template in which these updates can be recorded so that the same measures are provided in the same format for each update.
By following these recommendations for your construction schedule outsourcing effort you’ll maximize the likelihood of a successful project while minimizing the stress of both your own resources and the scheduler.
See more about how a Schedule Associates project scheduler can help with your needs.