Michael H. Casten
Construction Concepts
Greensboro, N.C.

Traditional project management control systems are based on a “detect and correct” model, and short-term project scheduling is developed using activity-based three-week look-ahead schedules. These methods simply do not have a good record of keeping projects on schedule. It’s much more effective to prevent waste and poor crew assignments from getting into the weekly work plan and assure assignments that make it into the plan can actually be completed. 

Ideally, planning is a conversation among stakeholders that results in commitments. The most basic goal is to ensure project stakeholders attend a weekly project team meeting in which daily crew assignments are collaboratively pulled through a “can” filter and into a weekly project production plan. Stakeholders meet daily to review and adjust the real-time status of individual crew work assignments, the percent of goals achieved and the reasons for any plan failures. Workflow is predictably “pulled” through the project as opposed to two-week forecasts that depend on “push” tactics.

Andrew Moore
Project Manager
Crain Construction
Nashville, Tenn.

I came across the Army acronym VUCA, which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, in Fortune magazine and found that it aptly describes the project management environment today, and more specifically the kinds of pressures and influences that a project schedule encounters.

I believe every project has a key activity, process or area that can bog down the schedule. Identifying this before construction starts and effectively communicating it to the project team greatly increases the likelihood of the job being completed on time. An example of this might be a complex foundation wall that delays surrounding workflow, or extensive masonry facade work that cuts off site access.

I also believe a project schedule is like a battle plan and must be constantly modified as the “battle” progresses. I empower my superintendents to make their own schedules and to take ownership of the workflow. Today’s faster paced projects with less complete information require schedule flexibility and planning ahead. 

Ray Zamora
AnchorBuilt, Inc.
Albuquerque, N.M.

First, it is important to identify a strong in-house construction team for each project. Communications among the construction team, owner, end user and architect creates a level of understanding and expectations of the schedule.

Study the plans and ask questions early that may cause roadblocks during the construction process. Have a mandatory meeting with all subcontractors, vendors and in-house division managers to develop a plan, and discuss the team’s expectation to keep the project on schedule.

Create smaller projects to help the construction team understand the overall project by using milestones from the master project schedule along with three-week look-ahead schedules to show an immediate view of the upcoming work.

Ensure superintendents take notes daily, mark tasks completed and communicate with the project manager in weekly meetings to strategize keeping the project on schedule.

The schedule is a tool and it must be updated accurately in order to use it appropriately.