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Construction planning and scheduling
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Construction planning and scheduling: A Quick Guide

Last Updated on February 6, 2023 by Admin

Construction planning and scheduling

Construction planning and scheduling are critical in integrating all your construction activities and phases needed to complete a given construction project at a given budget and time frame. Although having individual functions, planning and scheduling are inseparable for successful project management.

Construction planning essentially covers choosing relevant policies, procedures, and processes to achieve your project goals. Construction scheduling adapts your project action plans for scope, time, cost, and quality into a functioning calendar. 

Adapting the project specifications, including requirements for resources (labor, equipment, construction materials, etc.), communications, risks, and procurement into an operational workflow system, is critical for your project team.

Your schedule becomes your central tool for managing your projects with your project plan and budget, and additionally, having integrated or coordinated cost-time schedule functions as your foundation for monitoring and controlling activities throughout your project’s life cycle.

Why construction planning and scheduling are important

Proper construction planning and scheduling are essential in ensuring that your construction project gets completed on time and within budget. A thoroughly planned construction schedule outlines the pace of your work and dictates how your work gets done. 

Preparing your construction schedule meticulously and ahead of time maximizes your efficiency and productivity. It also helps define your processes, methods, and sequences for when materials are placed. In addition, as your construction schedule allows you to improve your quality control measures, it is effortless to sequence work.

When planning and scheduling your construction project, you should also watch for

any potential risks. Using construction planning and management software, you can engage in top-down planning, prepare a cost risk analysis, and keep track of things. It’s one of the most effective ways to assess and mitigate risk while ensuring your project runs smoothly.

Project Planning and Scheduling

It ensures you have the correct quality and quantity of materials used in each step.

Materials and resources procurement is on track as you can use your schedule to purchase the suitable materials exactly when you need them. 

In addition, safety performance is improved as you use your plan to track which worker is on-site and make sure that protection guidelines are correctly followed.

Having a reliable construction schedule also allows you to allocate your time better among all your project stakeholders, which helps them plan their activities better. You reduce unpleasant surprises by getting total control of your project, making it easy to avoid cost overruns and delays.

Preparing a construction schedule that is both specific and put together ahead of time ensures efficiency and productivity. Construction scheduling allows you and the project team to control quality measures and manage resource allocation in each construction phase.

Time is money; a reliable schedule allows each party to allocate time to all activities to avoid delays and cost overruns.

What is construction planning?

Construction planning is essential in managing and executing your construction projects. It involves selecting the technology, defining the work tasks, estimating the required resources and extent of individual studies, and identifying possible interactions and workflows among different activities.

An efficient construction plan is fundamental in setting your budget and schedule for the entire work needed. Therefore, creating and developing the construction plan is a highly challenging and critical task in construction management.

You have to develop the technical aspects. Then, on top of that, you have to make organizational decisions about relationships between project stakeholders and even the subcontractors you will have to include.

In basic terms, construction planning is how construction managers decide how to manage and execute a construction project. Construction planning is a broad term that encompasses several processes. For instance, selecting technologies, defining work tasks, estimating the necessary resources, and producing building plans all fall under construction planning.

As a construction manager, you’ve got a million things to do and a whole crew of people relying on you to get things right. If you want to succeed on a project, you’ve got to be a master planner. But what exactly is construction planning, and what does a successful construction planning process look like?

Typically, construction planning consists of the following five steps:

  • Creating the Project– Creating the initial document that lays out details on the people, resources, and budget needed for a project.
  • Drafting an Initial Plan– Setting concrete and specific goals for the project.
  • Executing the Plan– Sharing the plan with all invested parties, ensuring that everyone is on the same page, setting expectations, and assigning project managers to oversee construction progress.
  • Tracking Performance– Remaining contact with project managers and collecting data on key performance indicators, such as objectives, performance, and quality.
  • Closing Out the Project and Evaluating Success– Use data to evaluate performance and determine areas of improvement for future projects.

What is Construction Scheduling?

Once a construction plan is in place, project managers can move on to scheduling. Construction scheduling details how a project can be completed within the given time frame and within the budget. A construction schedule is similar to a contractor’s bid as it estimates project costs and timelines.

Construction schedules require the contractor to think critically about how they will complete a project, with factors such as design, permitting, cost, and time is all considered. When construction scheduling is executed correctly, it helps manage materials, labor, and construction equipment. It also allows adjustments to the construction plan if issues pop up during the building process.

A construction project schedule is either a written or graphical representation of how the project is completed or constructed. When I say written, it could be a written narrative. It could be a description. It could be depicted as a bar chart schedule or a CPM schedule.

A construction schedule is analogous to a contractor’s bid. Just as a contractor’s bid estimates the cost that it expects to spend to build the project, the schedule represents an estimate of the time required to construct the project.

A construction schedule includes:

  • Project deliverables
  • Resource management
  • Asset allocations
  • Tasks required to finish construction
  • Dependencies between different tasks
  • Construction deadlines and task durations
  • Budget and costing of involved parts

Project managers periodically assess construction schedules to ensure that the construction is going as planned and completed within the set timeframe.

Even though creating a construction schedule can be time-consuming, it can significantly help you avoid issues, give you a sense of direction, and manage project resources.

Why Do We Need Project Schedules?

Over the last 15 or 20 years, construction owners have required that contractors prepare schedules during a construction project. There are two primary reasons for this trend.

First, as projects become more complex and have tighter budgets, we need schedules to help us manage our construction projects. 

As a construction project management tool, a schedule enables the project participants (not just the owner, the contractor, the engineer, or the architect) to understand the plan for completion. In addition, it allows the parties to coordinate all the elements of the work.

Time is money. Every day a construction project is delayed, either the owner or both the owner and contractor will incur additional costs to support that project. Therefore, we need a way to measure to what extent the project is delayed. To some degree, this trend has also been driven by litigation.

The schedule allows us to identify not just the work but also the responsibilities of each party and the party responsible for each activity.

It allows us to track performance. Ultimately, having a reasonably accurate schedule, a bar chart or a CPM schedule will also enable the project participants to identify and resolve project delays.

The last thing you want to do is ignore time-related issues during the project and have the parties kick the can down the road. This will often result in a claim being submitted because time wasn’t resolved, the project was finished late, and the parties can’t agree on the cause of the delay. This can and often does result in unnecessary money spent in litigation.

That is not a recipe for success on construction projects. We want to finish projects on time and within budget. A way to do that is to address delays during the project.

Difference between construction scheduling and project planning

Here is a table that compares the difference between construction scheduling and project planning:

FeatureConstruction SchedulingProject Planning
DefinitionA process of creating a timeline for construction activities to be performedA process of defining project goals, scope, and objectives and creating a plan for achieving them
FocusFocuses on the timing and sequencing of construction activitiesFocuses on defining and allocating resources, establishing budget and timeline, and managing risks and uncertainties
InputInputs include construction drawings, specifications, resource availability, and construction activity durationsInputs include project scope, project goals, stakeholder requirements, budget, and resource availability
OutputOutput is a detailed construction schedule that shows the start and end dates of each construction activityOutput is a project plan that includes a detailed description of the project, its goals, and the steps to achieve them, as well as a timeline and budget
PurposeTo ensure construction activities are completed within the project timeline and resources are utilized effectivelyTo provide a clear direction for the project and ensure the project is completed within budget and timeline constraints, while meeting project goals and stakeholder requirements
ToolsConstruction scheduling software, Gantt charts, critical path method (CPM) analysis, bar chartsProject management software, work breakdown structures (WBS), project schedules, Gantt charts, risk management tools
Difference between construction scheduling and project planning


This is what you need to know about construction planning and scheduling. To be successful with your construction projects, careful planning is required to create a schedule that will allow you to deliver your projects on time and within budget.

Construction planning and scheduling take a lot of time to develop and implement, but the time you will save during the actual work will be more than you spent creating your plan and schedule.

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