Construction planning is a multifaceted process that involves various stakeholders, consists of multiple stages, and requires an array of different skills.
This complexity is the reason why it’s important for you and your team to follow good construction planning practices.
However, a lot goes into it, which is why we’re going to share our best construction planning tips that you simply can’t ignore.
These tried and true tips will help you ensure that the planning phase of each construction project at your company goes smoothly.
In this article...
A Trustworthy BIM is a Project Backbone
Grasping the importance of Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the first tip on our list.
But before we get into why BIM serves as the digital backbone of every construction project, let’s take a look at its definition.
To put it simply, the collaborative nature of Building Information Modeling allows all the stakeholders involved in a construction project to contribute to planning and designing a structure within a single 3D model.
A recent Autodesk study reports that BIM adoption in the construction industry is accelerating:
- 41% of construction companies used BIM in 2022 on more than 50% of their projects.
- This number is projected to grow to an impressive 69% by 2024.
What is more, construction companies report that thanks to BIM, they’re seeing significant improvements in the areas of project success, project quality, cost and schedule, and risk reduction.
Below are only some of the numbers.
As you can see, the benefits are innumerable.
But how do you make BIM an integral part of your construction planning processes?
It all starts with making sure your planners are well-trained in using BIM software.
This skill is of utmost importance, as a thorough understanding of this technology allows them to make data-driven decisions throughout the planning and construction phases.
Namely, BIM isn’t a mere visual representation of the construction project.
It also incorporates important data related to costs, materials, and scheduling, all of which are necessary to complete the project within budget, on time, and to the expected quality standards.
To empower your planners to use BIM software effectively, you first need to combat any potential resistance to new tools and invest in a comprehensive training program.
Otherwise, you won’t reap the benefits, explains Rémi Visière, GA Smart Building’s Director of Research, Development and Innovation.
Apart from fostering a culture of continuous learning and BIM technology adoption, your planners also need to stay on top of BIM data audits.
Given the fact that construction planning hinges on accurate and reliable data, it is important to regularly make sure that any discrepancies in the data are rectified as soon as possible.
To this end, BIM and Structural Engineer Mohamed Safwat Osman highlights the value of a Common Data Environment (CDE), which is where BIM data and documents are stored, allowing all stakeholders access to identical, up-to-date information.
Therefore, it is advisable to carve out some time for all project stakeholders to come together and exchange project information updates, identify any inconsistencies, and develop a process for fixing them.
All in all, BIM has the power to significantly enhance your construction planning processes, so aim to make it an integral part of your operations.
Any individual with experience in construction planning knows that it is not a one-man job.
In fact, construction planning is a process that involves various stakeholders whose contributions are the foundation for successful construction project completion.
The image below shows the key participants, whose job is to efficiently manage the time, resources, and budgets, as well as establish quality standards for the construction project in the planning phase.
However, this participation doesn’t mean much if there is no collaboration among all stakeholders.
Think of construction planning as a jigsaw puzzle.
Each stakeholder represents one piece of the puzzle, but only when they all come together do you get the full picture, i.e., a comprehensive construction plan.
That is why it’s crucial to ensure that everyone involved is on the same page when it comes to project goals and objectives.
This can’t happen without enabling open and consistent communication.
Holding regular meetings where all key stakeholders get to share project planning updates and exchange ideas is the ideal scenario, but not always a feasible one.
However, you can overcome this hurdle by investing in communication and collaboration tools, such as the previously mentioned BIM software.
Chris Hallam, Partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, makes a case for this solution.
In other words, BIM software serves as a platform where all stakeholders can get an insight into the current status of construction plans, work together remotely to address challenges, and use each others’ input to make improvements.
For example, if you provide your subcontractors with access to BIM data, they can identify potential schedule clashes before they turn into a problem, thus making sure that construction planning and execution stay on track.
Therefore, make it a point to foster a culture of open communication and collaboration within your construction planning team, as this is the safest way to create a plan that results in a successful project.
Take Contingencies Into Account
Have you ever planned a construction project and thought, “We’ve allocated just the right amount of time and resources for this project”?
Well, then you’ve probably also learned that, sometimes, things don’t work out exactly the way you planned.
Unforeseen events out of your control can easily cause delays and disruptions to the project that are not only incredibly inconvenient but also very costly.
That is why it’s important to take these contingencies into account when developing your construction plans.
Bilox Wells, construction project manager and president of the contractor review site Find Home Pro, advises:
And while neither you nor the other stakeholders can control unexpected events, you can control the way you plan for them and respond to them.
So, it’s important to ask yourself questions such as:
- Should you expect abnormal weather conditions that could cause delays?
- Is it possible your crew will encounter unforeseen soil conditions that will set them back?
- Do you think that the market conditions could potentially affect material prices, thus increasing your project costs?
- Could design modifications occur during construction, causing additional expenditures?
No matter what unforeseen circumstances affect your project, it is almost certain that they’re going to lead to additional costs.
For that reason, it is key to factor contingency into the project budget.
Allocating contingency funds during the construction planning phase is going to help you mitigate potential risks down the road and ensure that your project gets finished on time and within the agreed-upon budget.
According to Billd, “construction contingencies are typically calculated at 5-10% of the construction budget”, but the actual percentage is, naturally, going to vary from project to project.
So, take some time to sit down with the stakeholders and ask for their input on what potential risks you might encounter during the project.
Then, discuss what you can do to reduce the likelihood of costly roadblocks, as well as what strategies you can implement to quickly get back on track if they do occur.
The more effort you put into planning for contingencies, the better you’ll be able to recover from them and keep your project on schedule.
And if you manage to completely avoid them, the fact that you planned for the worst-case scenario will serve as a testament to your company’s construction planning skills.
Have a Good Change Management Process
Whether it’s due to matters out of your control or oversights in planning, the fact of the matter is: changes during construction projects are almost inevitable.
And while it is important to be financially prepared for potential modifications to the project scope, design, and schedule by allocating contingency funds, that is only half the story.
You also need to develop a good change management process.
Because that is the only way for your company to meet the project goals and deadlines with minimal disruptions and no negative consequences to the project itself.
But before we get into some tips on how you can better control project changes, let’s take a look at what types of changes you can expect to happen.
Having to handle changes that are bound to affect the project timelines, resource allocation, construction methods, and more, can be quite a challenge.
However, this challenge can be overcome by fostering transparency and consistent communication among stakeholders.
Brian Saab, Senior Product Director at the construction management software company Procore, explains that keeping everyone in the loop is the most important, but often overlooked part of construction planning.
So, how can you make sure that information about project changes is communicated and accessible to all relevant stakeholders?
Start by establishing clear communication protocols.
- Which channel(s) are you going to use to communicate the changes that need to be made?
- Which stakeholders are responsible for conveying which type of information?
- What is the protocol for communicating unexpected and urgent changes?
Figuring out the answers to these questions as early on as possible is crucial.
Namely, a study conducted by the Project Management Institute has found poor communication contributes to project failure.
Once you know how, when, and where you’re going to communicate changes, you need to decide how you’re going to document them and assign roles and responsibilities.
Proper documentation provides a trail of decision-making, ensuring accountability and facilitating future project assessments.
For instance, if a client requests a design change, this request needs to be documented according to the agreed-upon standards and on the agreed-upon platform.
Then, the project manager knows exactly where to look for this new change request and can inform the design team of what needs to be done and decide who’s responsible for what.
While handling project changes on the go can be challenging, it becomes much easier to deal with when you establish good change management practices.
Help Yourself With Technology
With construction planning being a complex process that involves many stakeholders, manually managing elements like time, resources, and schedules is a difficult, if not impossible task.
So, instead of allowing this approach to drain valuable time and energy, consider helping yourself—and everyone involved—with technology.
Doing so will allow you and your team to work smarter, not harder.
We’ve already discussed the manifold benefits of using BIM software, the need for communication tools, and even dedicated an entire article to project management software features you need to successfully streamline tasks and facilitate collaboration among stakeholders.
When you’re planning a new construction project, you’re bound to ask yourself:
- Which tools and equipment are we going to need for this project?
- Where are the necessary tools and equipment located,
- Are they going to be available for use by the project start date?
If your company’s tool and heavy equipment collection is sizable, tracking each asset’s whereabouts and status with, for example, spreadsheets can get time-consuming, frustrating, and error-ridden.
With an advanced, yet user-friendly solution like GoCodes, that isn’t the case.
The process is simple: all you need to do is attach the GoCodes asset tags with a QR code to your tools and equipment, and then scan them using our in-app scanner.
All of the data associated with each individual asset is stored in the cloud, meaning that all stakeholders you grant access to can see all relevant asset information using any device, like this:
As you can see above, GoCodes will provide you with the basic information you enter about the asset, including its name, purchase price, and current and salvage value.
However, it also tells you information that is relevant to the construction project planning process.
For instance, you can see when the asset was last serviced and what date the next maintenance is scheduled for.
You can also access the check-in/check-out log, telling you who the asset has been assigned to and when they’re supposed to return it.
Having all this information ahead of time will help you decide whether you need to rent certain equipment, or if it might be a good idea to move the next service date up so that the piece is ready for use when the project begins.
The bottom line is that technology is an indispensable asset for everyone on your construction planning team, as it has the power to streamline the process of project planning.
So, whether you opt for one type of technology or several different ones, you’re bound to reap the benefits.
And with that, we conclude this article on our tried and tested construction planning tips.
There is no denying that construction planning is a complex process:
It calls for lots of communication, it can be very unpredictable, and it requires you to strategize and prepare for many different scenarios.
However, by fostering transparency and collaboration, as well as smart utilization of construction planning technologies, it’s nothing you and your team can’t handle.