Also known as a look-ahead schedule, a short-term plan is essential in construction to break down the project into specific periods and detailed, executable plans. It allows for a simple interpretation of the project schedule and eliminates uncertainties over the project lifecycle.
At the core of the entire process is coordination, an essential component to improve performance, prevent fragmentation, and boost efficiency. This is particularly critical when working with suppliers and subcontractors.
Project managers must proactively coordinate tasks and information with other stakeholders to ensure timely deliveries and optimal efficiency. Here are tips for coordinating subcontractors and suppliers for short-term planning success.
1. Create a detailed short-term plan
It’s essential to create a detailed short-term plan for subcontractors and suppliers. This involves identifying and listing tasks you need them to complete. Make sure they have the necessary resources to complete the tasks.
Define the durations for each task and required material quantities – the team should be able to deliver within the specified time scope. For example, suppliers should have a seamless supply chain of construction materials, which is crucial when handling parable materials like concrete.
Detailed short-term plans allow you to work in lean zones – you can start crews wherever they can and overlap safely while ensuring seamless handovers between trades.
2. Improve communication and collaboration
You must establish clear and regular communication with each party for the duration of the plan. Each supplier and subcontractor must have a point of contact to track changes, issues, progress, and feedback.
The best approach is to create a centralised platform for all supplies and subcontractors. Online tools or construction management software can be quite handy. Most offer real-time communication capabilities, document control, and message alerts to keep everyone on the same page.
3. Monitor and track progress
Once suppliers and subcontractors start working on a task or project, you need to monitor their progress regularly through task, schedule, and productivity tracking. Tools like photos, site inspections, tests, daily reports, and punch lists are crucial in tracking and spotting issues.
You must establish a system for tracking progress to keep everyone accountable and ensure they’re all meeting their obligations. This can also help to prevent misunderstanding, improve operational visibility, minimise delays, and improve decision-making.
4. Ensure adherence to timelines and budgets
Budgets and timelines rely on coordinated efforts between the contractor, subcontractors, and suppliers. You need to onboard all partners early to create a high-performing, collaborative and integrated team that’s aligned with the project goals.
Make sure all suppliers and subcontractors understand the acceptable timelines and the maximum allowable costs. This is crucial to ensure everyone adheres to the defined cost and time limits. With an established critical path, teams can program tasks to improve efficiency.
5. Manage unexpected delays or disruptions
Project delays and disruptions can lead to costly overruns, litigation, or even failure in some cases. This impacts the contract’s reputation. While delays and disruptions are a norm in construction, what matters is your ability to manage them and prevent costly implications.
Instead, you need to track and report every task to ensure timely deliveries. Dashboards, risk logs, and reports are beneficial for this process. They can help with risk, incident, and supply chain management, from conception to completion.
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6. Review and assess performance
You need to review and evaluate the performance of suppliers and subcontractors throughout the project. Be sure to review every completed task while paying attention to communication, documentation, deliveries, quality, and compliance.
You can use methods and tools like meetings, reports, site visits, inspections, and checklists to assess completed tasks. It’s also advisable to provide performance reviews and feedback to correct issues, highlight areas of improvement and inform future planning and decision-making.
Improve construction coordination with technology
Suppliers and subcontractors are key players in any construction project. They boost your capacity for different project sizes, take on specialised tasks, and simplify your material sourcing.
Seamless coordination with suppliers and subcontractors is vital to minimize disruptions and delays. This means moving away from traditional paper-based and disconnected processes and embracing technology and digital solutions to improve collaboration and communication.
At LetsBuild, we offer purpose-built solutions to support every aspect of construction, from planning to delivery. For example, with LB Coordination, project management can coordinate trades and ensure error-free processes for leaner projects.
Get in touch with us today or book a demo to learn how LB Coordination can improve collaboration with suppliers and subcontractors.