Any project manager who has gone to college can create a decent project schedule. This doesn’t mean their schedule will withstand the pressures placed on it in a real world test. An experienced project manager can create a project timeline that will result in a successfully delivered project on time and within budget.
Keeping the Project on Schedule
The ability to create a schedule and maintain it requires several things. The primary four are:
- Individual Task Estimation: Estimate a timeline for each task individually.
- Proper Identification of Dependencies: Identify all dependencies before work begins.
- Create the Gantt Chart: A priceless visual representation of the project.
- Critical Path Identification: The longest path of tasks in the Gantt chart is your critical path.
Define the Critical Path
A clearly defined critical path will allow you to focus your attention on a timeline for project completion. You can finish the project early if you find ways to shorten the critical path. On-time project completion requires a well-maintained critical path. An extended critical path means that the project is going to be late.
Properly Manage Slack Time
Yes, slack time is a thing and it must be properly managed. Slack time is best summed up by the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) as “The amount of time that a scheduled activity can be delayed without delaying the early start of any immediately following schedule activities.” Many project managers will try to remove slack time from the equation altogether, but this creates serious problems with the schedule down the line. Develop a strategy to work with slack time instead of removing it entirely.
This is something that needs to be done daily, sometimes multiple times per day. You need to know where to reach for specific files and where to look for folders on your computer or electronic device. Organize your vehicle so you can find required items more easily.
Maintain Proper Communication
We can’t express enough how communication plays a key role in delivering a successful construction project. The construction project manager is responsible for maintaining communication with the client, subcontractors, tradesmen, supervisors, and the crew. They need to know where everyone is on deliverables at all times.
Pre-Plan Daily Decisions
We can’t always predict the decisions we may need to make throughout the day, but we can take the time to pre-think situations that may arise. Start each morning with an overview of the schedule, deliverables, and the tasks for the day. Think about the people you will be working with throughout the day and the potential situations that may come up. Take the time to make a few notes if needed, and set out to conquer the day.