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Australia, Features, Opinion, Technology

How construction firms can innovate the scheduling process

While many industries are adjusting their business models after a challenging year to adapt to whatever the future might hold, the construction industry is starting to see a change in the culturally entrenched attitudes towards project management as organisations see an increased need to modernise their operations.

One process in serious need of an overhaul is the schedule. In the past, the quality of the schedule was solely reliant on the expertise of the scheduler, but now organisations are focused on uniting all office and field staff to be part of one fully coordinated project delivery team. It’s not just the scheduler’s responsibility anymore, but rather the collective team will be working together to manage the planning and scheduling process.

Connect your front office with the field

With so many moving parts in any given construction project, today’s schedule needs to be multi-dimensional. It should consider the summary of activities found in the scope of work of the contract, as well as the field level production details based on the guiderails in these summaries.

Great scheduling combines the needs of the field with those of the front and back office. It should also consider the number of specialised team members involved on a project, which grows exponentially as the complexity and duration of construction projects continue to increase. This introduces a lot of intricacies to the process. The more members that are added to the project team, the more mature the schedule should become, adding depth and creating a more thorough plan for all teams. Incorporating metrics around milestones, deliverables, and productivity can coordinate and optimise labor, equipment, and material resources both within and across all projects of an organisation. Being able to account for hiccups in the schedule in near real-time becomes even more essential, given today’s supply shortages and material delays.

The construction industry pivoted quickly over the past year to remotely manage many aspects of a job (safety, control, risk, etc.), and as the adoption of mobility solutions has grown, so has the number of project delivery team members that are involved in the execution process.

The concept of the workspace has become fluid, and organisations in the industry are thinking of new ways to effectively digitise more of the workforce while adapting to more mobile and remote working approaches. The schedule needs to be able to quickly account for scaling up and down for more diversified teams, while ensuring everyone is informed and working towards the common project goal.

Tomorrow’s schedule today

A more coordinated and collaborative schedule blends the planning and management of the work. It is inclusive of all team members, and unites the critical path (in the CPM schedule) with field task and risk management. A modern schedule also gives businesses the insights they need to efficiently plan, schedule and control both programs and individual projects.

A big development in modernising the scheduling process is through the use of artificial intelligence (AI), which is key to helping identify potential risks and inefficiencies early in the project schedule. Organisations who analyse their company’s existing historical project data and combine it with their internal knowledge base can generate an improved quality of schedule by using AI to evaluate scenarios in real-time. They can determine the best project plans and mitigate risks, as well as optimise resources across project teams and track progress.

As the construction industry continues to look for ways to improve schedule qualities and project outcomes, organisations should look to incorporate any tools available to them to ensure their organisation is as efficient as possible. By evolving the scheduling process to unite all office and field staff into one fully coordinated project delivery team, organisations will have a much clearer road ahead.

Written by Garrett Harley, director of product marketing, Oracle Construction and Engineering

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