Benjamin Franklin once wisely stated: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”.
This timeless sentiment is particularly relevant within the construction sector.
In the construction industry, project delays, unplanned downtime, and budget overruns are something everyone’s trying to avoid.
That’s why a construction plan becomes the determining factor for the success or failure of a project.
In this comprehensive step-by-step guide, we’ll lead you through the crucial elements of crafting a resilient construction plan that not only aligns with your project goals but also guarantees efficiency, safety, and adherence to budget constraints.
Let’s start with the first step.
In this article...
Familiarize Yourself With the Project
The initial phase is crucial because it sets the foundation for all the subsequent steps in the process.
A thorough understanding of the job will not only provide you with clarity on what needs to be done, but it’ll also help minimize uncertainties, mitigate risks, and create a framework for smooth execution from start to finish.
To achieve this, it’s imperative to first establish the purpose and objectives of the project.
Ask yourself: “What are the financial goals of the project? Which deadlines do we need to meet? What are the specific technical requirements and standards for the project?”
Peggy Newguist, a principal and co-owner at Constructing Opportunity LLC, emphasizes that the strategic project goals may slightly differ from role to role, but are all interdependent:
If the project manager doesn’t complete his or her goal, the accounting department can’t complete its goal. Then, it’s unlikely that client satisfaction scores will be high, so it’s unlikely that the president will achieve his or her goals. All of these goals have to work together to make it happen.
A proficient project planner recognizes the interconnected nature of these goals. Newguist refers to this phase as strategic planning, which reveals what needs to be done.
Once the project’s strategic purpose is firmly defined, delve deeper into its specifics.
At this stage, consider focusing on elements such as:
- Project scope
- Regulatory requirements
- The job site conditions
- Weather patterns in the area
- Ongoing projects in the vicinity
Newguist calls this tactical planning, which gives insight into how things need to be done.
For instance, analyzing the site factors like soil stability and drainage patterns enables the early detection of potential issues, such as uneven terrain, empowering the project team to navigate these obstacles with foresight and precision.
Similarly, assessing the risk of weather-related delays allows for the development of contingency plans, including indoor work alternatives.
At the end of the day, each project is unique, shaped by its specific requirements and challenges.
So, do your research, analyze, and assess, and the rest of the planning process will unfold seamlessly.
Write the Business Case
A business case can be a make-or-break point for construction projects.
It’s an opportunity to showcase to stakeholders why the project is a sound idea from a business perspective and to secure the resources needed for its realization.
After all, construction work doesn’t come cheap, so demonstrating a strong return on investment is crucial to gaining the confidence of the investors.
It should demonstrate the need for what you plan to build, outline the benefits of this endeavor, and emphasize the negative consequences of not undertaking the project.
Now, what separates a good business case from the rest?
Crafting a compelling business case necessitates a multi-faceted approach.
Firstly, it must illustrate alignment with stakeholders’ strategic direction. You need to prove that the project is a worthwhile investment.
For instance, a municipality focused on enhancing residents’ quality of life would find resonance in a proposal for a recreation center.
However, this alone isn’t enough.
Stakeholders are, naturally, also concerned with economic returns and associated risks.
Therefore, understanding their risk appetite—how much risk they are willing to take—will help you develop a sound business case.
Additionally, stakeholders must have confidence in your management structure, including the project team and schedule. They need assurance that you can successfully execute this undertaking.
Financial viability is the last element that needs addressing, and it entails ensuring the project makes economic sense for all parties involved.
All in all, a good business case is, obviously, a must.
A detailed document that addresses the challenges, advantages, and importance of a project not only secures the necessary funding but also fosters a collaborative and informed approach to the project realization.
Outline the Project Activities
Now, the emphasis shifts toward the more procedural aspects of executing the project, specifically, laying out the activities necessary to turn this plan into reality.
Clearly outlining the tasks and responsibilities for everyone involved will enhance their understanding and conceptualization of:
- What needs to be done
- By when
- In which order
- With what resources
- At which stage of the project
This not only makes tracking the progress more manageable but also significantly diminishes the likelihood of costly delays and communication problems.
So, to make this part of the planning a bit easier for yourself, consider employing a work breakdown structure (WBS).
This organizational tool breaks down the job into smaller, conquerable units known as work packages.
Resembling a family tree, with the top layer representing the finished building, and the lower layers depicting smaller divisions of work, this structure offers a practical means of visualizing the project.
An essential guiding principle of the WBS is the 100 percent rule, stipulating that it must encompass the entire project scope, including all deliverables such as design, engineering, and project management services.
Overall, by methodically planning out activities, you win on three fronts: you keep the project on track, minimize unplanned downtime, and prevent miscommunication issues, all of which lay a foundation for the successful completion of the job.
It plays a pivotal role in helping you anticipate, and in turn, control, the costs associated with the job.
Problems stemming from poor planning like budget overruns and cash flow issues are the last thing anybody wants.
However, due to the complex nature of construction expenses, you need to approach the budgeting strategically and meticulously.
Just take a look at some of the costs that should be taken into account during budget estimation.
While analyzing and assessing all these diverse expenses may seem challenging, this is precisely what you need to do in order to create a detailed and accurate budget.
Therefore, the first step in nailing a construction project budget is thorough research.
Make sure you analyze the expenses of some of the similar projects and consult with the suppliers.
This will give you some insight into what to expect.
Then, create a comprehensive list of all the costs of materials and equipment required to bring the project to fruition.
Bob Lester, CEO of Dura-Seal, a company specializing in seal coating, asphalt, and concrete services, offers a valuable pro tip for cost estimations.
He says relying solely on estimates with the cheapest materials should be avoided and instead, it’s best to present multiple options to stakeholders.
In the construction industry, the main objective isn’t only to deliver the project within the budget but also to ensure client satisfaction with the end result.
While balancing these objectives may sometimes seem like an impossible endeavor, presenting clients with different budget options and explaining the possibilities within each one can effectively manage their expectations throughout the project.
In any case, you’ll surely have to invest some time in developing a sound budget, but in the end, it’ll be well worth the effort.
It’ll help you keep costs under control, stakeholders happy, and workflows as smooth as they can be.
In a time-sensitive industry like construction, the power of a well-developed schedule cannot be emphasized enough.
It ensures not only the timely completion of each task but also enables a quicker response to unforeseen challenges, thereby preventing unplanned downtime and project delays.
David Hernandez from Elecosoft agrees.
Teams that schedule every job perform better.
He says scheduling isn’t just a cumbersome chore, but an extremely helpful strategic tool essential for a project’s success.
To excel in this aspect of project planning, you need to, yet again, do proper research.
Identify potential obstacles to timely project realization and incorporate these elements into the schedule.
For instance, make sure to factor in subcontractors’ timelines as well as the time required to secure building permits before starting work.
It’s advisable to consult with the project inspector to gain insights into this aspect.
To create efficient schedules with more ease, think about using scheduling software.
Foundry’s survey highlights this piece of technology, as one of the most widely used tech in the industry.
Another useful tool to consider in this context is equipment management software.
It addresses issues such as equipment hoarding, loss, or even theft, all of which can seriously impede project timelines.
GoCodes, our own equipment management system, facilitates the assignment of specific assets to employees, monitors their usage and whereabouts, and even allows you to set return dates, sending email notifications in case of overdue machinery and tools.
Incorporating such a system into your construction tech stack can genuinely assist with equipment scheduling and ensure an overall smoother workflow.
Ultimately, meeting deadlines is what counts the most in this industry, and a well-crafted schedule is the key to achieving this goal.
By investing time in meticulous planning and utilizing advanced software solutions, delivering projects on time becomes a consistent reality and not a source of anxiety.
Assemble the Project Team
The final step in project planning is to assemble a team capable of turning your vision into reality, all while staying within budget and timeline.
It’s simple math: the better the team you select, the smoother the execution.
So, how do you find the right people for the job?
The first order of business is to define the key roles required for the upcoming project.
Typically, the team comprises:
- Project managers
- Consultants (designers, architects, and engineers)
- Contractors (site managers, supervisors, and specialists in fields like bricklaying, plumbing, roofing, etc.)
Then, the next step is to specify the necessary skills and expertise for each role.
This can include technical or project management knowledge, but also soft skills like communication, collaboration, or problem-solving.
Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to assemble that dream team.
However, given the prevailing labor shortage in the industry, this may seem easier than done.
According to a survey by the Associated General Contractors of America, 91% of companies face difficulties in filling some positions within their organization.
Still, a lot can be learned about finding skilled labor from this research, too.
To address the labor shortage issue, the surveyed businesses are expanding their outreach by engaging with career-building programs, utilizing social media for job advertising, and partnering with employee search firms.
By using some of these methods, they broaden their reach and therefore significantly increase the chances of attracting qualified candidates.
If finding skilled workers is a challenge for you too, try employing these tactics.
You never know where that perfect worker might be hiding.
Yet, finding good candidates is only half of this employee hunt story.
You also need to assess whether the candidates are truly fit for the job by ensuring they have the required certifications and knowledge of operational and safety processes as well as by evaluating their past performance.
Remember, although it takes work, and often seems impossible in this climate, finding the right team is crucial.
Otherwise, all prior planning efforts may go to waste.
Therefore, be diligent in selecting individuals who possess the skills and commitment needed to successfully complete the job.
They’re the ones who make project realization possible, after all.
Yes, planning a construction project requires considerable dedication, time, and effort.
But is it worth such an investment?
A meticulously crafted plan not only serves as a roadmap for the entire construction process but also facilitates efficient resource management and risk minimization.
Therefore, by adhering to this guide and staying vigilant about your schedule and budget throughout the construction process, you can significantly enhance the likelihood of successfully delivering a high-quality project on time and within budget, every single time.