Schedule Management plays a pivotal role in the construction industry. It helps to ensure timely project completion, meet business requirements, and proactively mitigate potential risks to adhere to project goals. Acting as a central pillar, it fosters alignment amongst stakeholders and the seamless collaboration of the project team. As the construction industry continues to evolve and operations grow more complex, schedule management is being recognized as a must-have—especially in light of the unprecedented challenges we have seen in recent years.
What does a construction schedule manager do?
As the name implies, a schedule manager is responsible for developing and maintaining an accurate timeline for a construction project. Their role is an essential one as it helps to ensure a project will finish on time and within budget—the two key outcomes every owner is after.
The timeline produced by a schedule manager maps out the major activities and milestones for a project, beginning with preconstruction and ending with project delivery. It serves as a forecast of what to expect and a reference point for the entire team to gauge whether a project is progressing as it should. Ultimately, a schedule manager writes the story of a project before it ever begins and ensures that story stays on track, chapter by chapter, until the very end.
Are schedule managers and programme managers the same thing in construction?
In the U.S., this service is referred to as schedule management, whereas in the UK, it is known as programme management.
How does a construction schedule manager produce an initial schedule?
Accuracy is key in this line of work. In construction, time is money, and an inaccurate schedule can create significant budget consequences down the line. In order to ensure a realistic, on-target schedule, a well-practiced schedule manager will arm themselves with as much data as possible before they begin this work. By working closely with the preconstruction team, a schedule manager can create a roadmap that drives their project towards the finish line.
Typically, building a construction schedule starts with understanding a project’s scope and objectives, breaking it down the project into smaller, manageable work packages. A schedule manager will identify tasks down to individual trade level, sequence and estimate the duration of each task, and assign resources to them, all while accounting for any constraints or complications that may affect project delivery.
Experience in the industry, proprietary benchmarking data, and sophisticated software solutions all aid in producing a quality schedule that is both accurate enough to rely on and flexible enough to account for potential variances. For example, should a task be delayed by permitting or supply chain issues, this allows the schedule manager to find the most effective and efficient way to re-route the efforts of the project team.
What are the benefits of schedule management in construction?
There are many benefits—here are some of the biggest ones.
- Provides a roadmap for success—a single reference point that the entire project team can use to monitor progress, from any location, at any time.
- Enhances communication and coordination efforts among different members of the project team by making everyone aware of the needs and goals of other parties.
- Ensures a project progresses with maximum efficiency by detailing when each project activity should take place. This way, no member of the project team misses a beat, and resources are allocated appropriately.
- Helps to forecast and measure against cost estimates to keep everyone on time and within budget.
- Flags potential cost and productivity hurdles ahead of time, allowing team members to be proactive about possible challenges.
- Enables owners and project managers to make more informed decisions as new project requirements arise.
How do I know if I need a schedule manager for my construction project?
It’s always wise to have a schedule manager on your project team in order to protect your investments and ensure a smooth timeline. Construction projects are costly, and hurdles often crop up along the way; a schedule manager can help to ensure budgets don’t get blown away and challenges are anticipated and met appropriately.
How do I find the right schedule manager for my construction project?
Finding the right schedule manager for your project is important. Some things to consider are:
- Do they have experience working with your industry or on projects of a similar nature?
- Do they have a robust portfolio and an experienced team?
- Do they have the ability to rely on proprietary data?
- Do they use technology and communication channels that can keep me in the loop whenever / wherever I need to check on my project?
- Do they speak the language of all the members of a construction team (owners, project managers, contractors, architects, etc.)?
- Do we have a good rapport?
Finding the schedule manager for your team comes down to ensuring that they can do the job, that their process is a good fit for your project, and that they are a cultural fit for your team. This is an individual whose deliverables directly impact project success, as well as someone you’ll work with closely, so you want to ensure they’re a great relational fit as well.
When is the best time to bring a construction schedule manager on board?
The ideal time to involve a construction schedule manager is during the pre-construction phase. This allows them to collaborate with the project team, assess feasibility, and identify key project milestones. They can then create an efficient and realistic construction timeline that considers resources, site conditions, permits, and risks, comprehensively. By establishing communication channels early, they will be best placed to coordinate subcontractors, monitor progress, mitigate delays, and minimise the need for course-corrections further down the line.