How to ensure that your 3-6 week planning will be delivered faster

Ensuring that your 3-6 week lookahead will be delivered faster without affecting the development of the master schedule is no child’s play. A “construction-specific” tool will connect your teams and drive digital adoption.

3-6 week planning

What is a lookahead schedule?

Construction projects come with a lot of admin work and several tasks inextricably linked to each other. The slightest delay on a single activity on site may result in subcontractors wandering around the field for weeks without being able to complete the work that has been assigned to them.

Free guide: How to reduce construction delays by more than 20%

It doesn’t take much to understand that this can lead many projects over budget and generate serious legal conflicts between the different stakeholders.

This is where the importance of delivering on your 3-6 week planning without any problems becomes visible. With the help of an up-to-date lookahead schedule, a Project manager can plan the tasks and objectives of the project for the next three to six weeks.

The 3-6 week planning is an essential part of the overall schedule and is one of the main tools used in the course of the weekly progress meetings. In that sense, the lookahead schedule should be perceived as a vital component of the higher-level plan.

Without it, the project team wouldn’t be able to have a clear overview of what needs to be ordered, what needs to be commissioned, and what has to be delivered and/or checked next. These are all crucial elements of success for every construction project and require a data-driven plan.

The real challenge lies in the fact that the various tasks and elements should be linked with each other correctly and the state of this connection should be continuously updated, ideally in real time. Otherwise, a construction project may experience interruptions and serious productivity bottlenecks that can lead to costly legal conflicts.

Read more: Do you have the right tools to keep your lookahead planning on track?

On top of that, the 3-6 week planning will naturally trigger a series of quality checks. The checks on themselves might also trigger a non-conformity requiring a new action to resolve it. And we should not overlook that each action is a workflow on its own.

In that aspect, the look-ahead schedule holds a very sensitive role in the entire construction process from start to completion. For that reason, it is a good idea to identify the main challenges you will have to face and come up with functional solutions that can resolve them.

3-6 week planning: The key pain points

Starting from the areas that can hurt your short-term planning, it becomes clear that everything revolves around real time communication and seamless collaboration. That can be the bedrock on which you can structure your entire project and eventually deliver on your master plan.

In a nutshell, here are the key pain points you need to address to protect your project’s 3-6 week planning:

Fragmented communication

Working in an isolated way can lead your project down a very dangerous path. If every team is using their own tools to collect data and report progress, it can be virtually impossible for your short-term planning to develop as it should.

If we also take into account that many construction companies rely still on pen and paper for their processes, it is no exaggeration to say that the need for a key platform, designed solely for construction, where all stakeholders can react on the latest feedback in real time is imminent.

The presence of a centralised hub can solve this problem offering project managers an accurate overview of both the short and long-term planning. The ability to access all project data and submit your latest updates from the field with the click of a button can ensure a smoother communication flow where all participants remain on the same page.

This can ensure that your 3-6 week planning is built based on what’s happening on site and that any last-minute changes are instantly reflected on the master plan.

That’s extremely important if we take into account the close link between the lookahead schedule, the conformity checks, and the “to do’s” that come as a result of them.

Admin and mental burden

People in construction spend up to 40% of their time working on admin tasks every day. Countless meetings, time-consuming phone calls, and a daily storm of emails can describe the working routine of the people in charge of short-term planning when there is no standardised way of exchanging data and information.

That’s simply not good enough and comes with a lot of mental and admin stress for the Project Manager. Trying to keep all the different sides up to date, while navigating through different tools and stakeholders can be chaotic.

For instance, Project Managers might have to walk around the field and capture non-conformities using pen and paper. Some of them might affect the schedule and others might be related to quality issues that should be reported to the subcontractors. At the same time, they need to complete a number of checklists with precision.

Collecting all these precious bits of information in their head and on post its, while trying to communicate the latest plan version to all project teams is overwhelming. And tools like WhatsApp and Excel are simply not good enough for this job due to their inability to connect the short-term plan to the master schedule. The result? Project Managers getting drowned in a sea of contextless data.

This is where a construction-specific tool can bring a big shift. Transitioning from pen, paper, and Excel to a collaborative data ecosystem can add efficiency and help Project Managers bring the necessary structure to their lookaheads.

Using the wrong tools for the job

It is no secret that construction is relying on many digital tools that aren’t built for this industry. This results in a lot of frustration and costly mistakes that could have been easily avoided with the help of a digital solution that is only focusing on construction.

And the more tools involved in a construction project the messier it can get. Data might never get shared with the parties they need, while everyone is working in siloes. This can hurt the progress of your lookahead schedule and gradually add a lot of confusion to your building process.

That is why a new construction-specific approach is required. By enabling project teams to collect and store the data in a centralised hub, you ensure that everyone can find and access the latest version of the information they need the moment they need it.

In that way, Project Managers will be able to plan ahead and adjust the sequence of tasks quickly if any changes appear. That can be a true life-saver as they can prioritise the right tasks and the right checks that should come with them. On top of that, they will be able to manage material orders much more effectively avoiding additional costs.

At the end of the day, breaking down the masterplan into actionable and assigned tasks with the help of a single source of truth can make a big difference and unlock transparency and accountability across the whole project.

Strong culture of blame

Pointing fingers to each other is, unfortunately, a common situation when it comes to construction projects which are not data driven. The lack of trust in contractual relations hurt the construction industry and affect how a project progresses.

This absence of accountability reflects also on the way the supply chain manages both the short and long-term planning of a construction project. When the different teams end up working on outdated or siloed versions of the plan a serious project dispute can emerge at some point as a result of the problematic communication between the different teams.

In that sense, when a mistake happens every team will try to avoid the responsibility and enter into a blame game. Of course, this can push your short-term planning back and by extension damage the progress of your masterplan, too.

Again, the use of a centralised digital platform that can function as an objective third party can give the solution. With all data stored on the platform, it will be easier to find out what really happened and who is responsible for that. Such an approach could gradually restore trust across the value chain and boost productivity.

Delivering your 3-6 week planning faster

Ensuring that your short-term construction planning will be delivered faster without affecting the development of the master plan is no child’s play. Simply put, you need to bring your construction schedule to the field and use digital technologies to replace your 10 feet long printed spreadsheets that are outdated the moment they are printed.

In short, here are the five steps to smarter 3-6 week planning:

1.Task-based communication in a centralised hub

During a construction project, all communication revolves around the task. At LetsBuild we understand this well and we try to support this concept through our platform. Every progress update, comment, and all documentation should be task-based and in full sync with the main plan. Like that, you won’t have to waste time with split email threads, chasing people on calls, or mixing papers and photos in different tools and archives. Keep all collaboration streamlined in a centralised place.

2. Bring your construction plan to life with real-time updates

No matter if you use 3rd party tools for your planning needs, or you choose to use LetsBuild, your construction project management software should be able to bring your short term plan to life. See everything that happens on site reflected instantly on the schedule.

With LetsBuild, for instance, workers on site are updating the project schedule in real time using their mobile or tablet device. This eliminates miscommunication, unnecessary phone calls, and frustration with the daily routine of schedule updates. Now, the workers do the updates for you.

3. Lean planning linked to the main schedule

Connecting your lean planning to the masterplan can pave the way for a successful construction project. More specifically, you should choose a construction-specific digital platform that will allow you to produce a 3-6 week subset of the master plan, so that you can enrich it with the details needed to manage daily activities on site. When tasks are completed or changed, this should be instantly visible on the main project schedule, enabling smarter decision making.

4. Automate compliance processes

Trigger automated task-based compliance follow-ups. Go for a tool that supports compliance management to ensure that when a milestone is reached (i.e. a task or group of tasks are finished), you can trigger an instant QA form and notify the site inspector to perform the follow-up check. Since all information will be up to date, in sync with the main plan and in one tool, you can easily spot when and where problems arise, who is responsible, and what the status is.

5. Material and resource management built-in

Too often, building materials are delivered the wrong time at the wrong place. That being said, you need a key digital platform where you can schedule material deliveries to fit with your work schedule. This provides you with a clear view of what needs to be ordered when and ensures that materials don’t get in the way or get lost.

A “construction-specific” tool will connect your teams and drive digital adoption

It takes heavy resource investment and a lot of hard work to drive strong results in construction. That’s why you need a “built for construction” platform that is easy to use and implement. It will enhance digital adoption and it will simplify the onboarding process for new people coming to the site (eg. subcontractors). Like that, everyone will stay connected and quickly be able to follow your way of working.

That’s key in your effort to keep all project teams connected to ensure the successful delivery of your projects. It’s also the first step towards the standardisation of your systems and processes.

In most construction projects, 80% of all processes are always the same creating a great opportunity for Project Managers to keep all site activities under control by implementing the best practices of past projects to their current workflows.

Being able to define all your processes in detail will gradually create a closer connection between your teams as everybody will be aware of what is asked by them and will be equipped with the right tools to exchange critical information in real time.

But why is the use of a construction-specific digital solution so important? The reason is simple. Because both you, as a Project Manager, and your teams should always be able to have a clear view of the interdependencies between the master plan and the 3-6 lookahead.

Every update that arrives at your smartphone or tablet should be automatically connected to your short and long-term planning so that you can make smart decisions faster. And this should also be the case for your teams. They will no longer have to wait for you before they make a call. They will just see the impact of the latest data on the programme and decide accordingly.

So the next big mission for the industry is to find the culture drivers that will unlock a new way of work and communication in construction. In that way, stakeholders will ensure that their 3-6 week planning will be delivered faster without affecting the project’s masterplan.

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Topics:
Project managementSite interruption

How to reduce construction delays by more than 20%

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