Behind every successful project is a great schedule

Schedules drive outcomes in the construction business. Every month, day, hour, and minute is an opportunity to achieve our objective to finish every project in style. In 1930, it took 1 year and 45 days to complete all 102 stories of the Empire State Building. Nearly a hundred years later, we marvel at how fast the iconic tower has stood the test of time. On a sad note, it cost 5 lives to complete the tower, so there needs to be a balance between speed and safety.Building buildings and spaces is not an efficient process. There are dozens of governing agencies involved in every project, numerous consulting engineers and architects, hundreds of construction workers, thousands of materials and systems. But there is ALWAYS a great schedule behind every successful project. Here are three principles we need uphold as we lead the process of building at McFarland Construction:
  • Durations – How many days does it require to complete a task or activity? We cannot read a book or makeup the duration of a task. This requires experience and curiosity to gain buy-in from subtrade partners to understand how they are going to complete a task such as site/civil work, framing, mechanical rough-in, and finishes. It begins with asking questions: how long will you need to complete this task and what do you need so you can start? What is the size of your crew who is going to complete the task/activity within the timeline you have noted?
  • Sequencing – This function addresses the chronological order of activities. For instance, you typically cannot begin framing without the roof and enclosure being complete. The superintendent and project manager have tons of decisions to make in arriving at a sequence of activities. If your sequence is out of order, or it gets delayed for some reason, you lose your momentum and things get stressful. What assumptions are we making on how the building comes together? What do our subtrade partners need prior to starting their activities? How can sequence the schedule to optimize our efficiency?
  • Task Dependencies – This deals with the relationships of the preceding and succeeding tasks/activities. We typically cannot condition the space and complete our finishes without permanent power. In this instance, we are dependent on the utility company providing their equipment so we can tie-in power. Other times we may be dependent on a vendor that is supplied by the Owner, and they are not willing to work within our schedule. Sometimes we need to work around these issues to be successful in meeting our occupancy targets. If the submittals are quality checked, lead times are identified, schedule is well socialized with the team, trades, and owner, we stand a good chance of keeping everyone accountable to our schedule.
Final notes. People are not mind readers, so BE SPECIFIC. If you need an activity completed, “as soon as possible” is not a date on the calendar. If you are clear with dates and times, you stand a better chance of holding the team accountable to your expectations. OVERCOMMUNICATE! Having a schedule lost in your phone is not helpful to a guy in the field who is just dropping in to complete a limited scope of work. Host your sub coordination meetings and huddles daily and post the schedule where a foreman and super can see what you are trying to accomplish. Leading with a schedule discipline sets the expectations and tone for how we get our work done.