Pro Tips
Construction Scheduling: The Secret to Finishing Projects On Time and On Budget
BuildBook Team
August 31, 2021

Construction scheduling is an essential practice for contractors of all types and sizes. It's a vital hub for helping custom home builders and remodelers manage their jobs more efficiently, reducing the complexities involved with organizing and overseeing a construction project from beginning to end. 

This article will provide you a deep dive into construction scheduling, breaking down what it is, why it's important, how to create them, and the benefits of using construction scheduling software to drive sustainable growth for your business.

Statistically, eight out of ten construction projects go over budget. When schedules are managed efficiently, it leads to projects that finish reliably, on time, and on budget. 

Let's get started:

What Is Construction Scheduling?

Construction scheduling is the practice of outlining each step of a project in detail before the work begins. A schedule lists the succession of events in the order they need to be completed before the next step is taken. 

When a construction schedule is done correctly, it shapes the project in terms of time involved, people, scope, and budget. It helps project managers estimate the length of time it will take to complete the project and gives the client a solid blueprint for what to expect along the way. 

Scheduling is critical for all stakeholders as construction can sometimes be a disruptive and stressful process. A detailed construction schedule helps alleviate those pain points and ensures the project proceeds as smoothly as possible. 

In most cases, a project manager will manage the schedule and is the go-to contact for the client and all workers involved in the project. 

Why Is Scheduling an Important Part of Running Construction Projects?

We’ve talked a bit about what construction scheduling is, but why is it important? You might think that project scheduling is only for large complex jobs or bigger companies, but it’s actually a vital part of any successful construction business. Here’s why. 

When you’re planning any construction job, whether it’s a kitchen remodel, a deck build, finishing a basement, a major renovation, or a new custom home build, there are multiple steps involved, and usually several people. 

The more people and steps involved in the project, the more complicated it becomes to manage. Now, you might think at the outset that the job will be simple and easily accomplished, but we all know that unexpected things happen. When they do, you need to think on your feet, reorganize, and often deal with emotional situations. 

Construction Scheduling is vital for everyone involved in projects, including the clients

For example, let’s say you’re doing a remodel on an older home. You open up the walls and discover bad wiring, rot, or rodent damage that must be addressed before continuing. Electrical issues require an electrician, which will extend the time and budget as the work needs to be done and inspected before you can move on to the next step. Beyond those issues, you’ll need to deal with a client who’s now discovered their home won’t be ready for the holidays while rescheduling workers around the new timeline. 

In another scenario, you’ve ordered flooring and tile from a specialty supplier, and it hasn’t arrived by the time you’d estimated. Supply chains are notoriously slow these days, and this is a typical snafu that could set your timelines back considerably. 

On a more positive note, perhaps the client is so pleased with your work that they want you to keep going. That’s all great, but now you need to ensure you have the materials you need and that your team is available to continue the job. 

All of these situations require detailed scheduling and follow-up by the project manager lest any detail falls through the cracks. Additional permits might be needed, new inspections scheduled, and you might even have to push other clients back to accommodate what you need to do. 

Suddenly, it’s a complicated mess. But having a good schedule in place makes it all easier to manage, and you’ll (almost) always come out looking like a hero. 

Who Is Responsible for Creating a Construction Project Schedule?

Generally, the project manager creates and maintains the schedule. 

They could also be the general contractor or the company owner in a smaller construction company. Larger companies that typically have several jobs underway at the same time may assign a project manager to oversee all work. In contrast, a job site supervisor is directly responsible for managing the crews and ensuring all pertinent information is relayed in a timely manner. 

However, scheduling isn’t always handled by someone on the job site. For example, somebody in the construction office could be tasked with creating and managing the schedule. While they have knowledge of the processes involved, they might not have a deeper understanding of some practices and how they affect the project as a whole. 

This is a situation where specialized construction project scheduling software is highly advantageous (more on this below), as it supports automated workflows and makes sure that nothing falls through the cracks. For example, if a change order is added to the project, it might be necessary to reschedule specific individuals or send an update to the client.  Having a tool that helps you automate this process reduces errors and helps everybody avoid unnecessary stress. 

The Benefits of Scheduling Construction Projects

Planning your projects makes for a smoother process from start to finish. You’ll be able to plan each workday and maybe even have some work-life balance. After all, nobody wants to be stuck in the office after hours dealing with paperwork, scheduling issues, and stressed-out clients. 

There are many benefits to running a project with a clean schedule

Here are a few of the top benefits:

  • Scheduling Saves Time.

    It lets you use your time efficiently and maximize productivity. When the project’s schedule is planned in advance, you and your crews will be able to focus on doing a great job. 
  • Scheduling Saves Money.

    Planning helps you determine how much a project will cost and when funds will be required along the way. Knowing these details in advance will help you work out payment schedules with the client and assure that there is always enough in the budget to cover the needs. Even though there might be unexpected “surprises” along the way, planning and scheduling reduces the impact and ultimately keeps the project on budget. 
  • Scheduling Guarantees You Have the Right People at the Right Times.

    Construction scheduling helps you plan for work to happen when materials arrive or when essential processes are complete enough to move on to the next step. This ensures time is optimized and that high-paid professionals, like architects, designers, plumbers, and electricians, aren’t on-site unless they need to be. 
  • Scheduling Reduces Risk.

    Anything we do in life carries a risk of failure. Schedule management helps avoid or mitigate the risk of project failure so that you can get the job done and deliver on your promises. When jobs are completed as expected, on time, and on budget, your reputation and value increase, referrals ensue, and your business will grow and thrive. 

What Is Construction Scheduling Software?

Construction scheduling software simplifies the process of creating and managing a construction schedule. It is purpose-built for contractor scheduling and takes every phase of a build and all types of work into account. 

Modern construction management software with project scheduling combines contact management, calendars, document management, budgeting templates, change order management, and integrated communication tools like instant messaging and video chat. 

Drag-and-drop functionality makes it easy to adjust timelines, and once you’ve made a change, the system notifies everybody who needs to know. Sub-contractors and other workers always have the information they need to get the job done. Information is democratized and can be classified according to role, so the right people always have access to the data they need. 

Check out the video below for a short example of creating a construction schedule using modern software: 

Construction scheduling software helps project managers gain high-level visibility into their projects. Dashboards can be customized to reflect the information they need to see and reports configured to send automatically to the contractor, the client, inspectors, or other personnel.

It also simplifies the task of managing multiple job sites, enabling them to toggle between clients and jobs and removing the complexities involved with managing several crews.  

The Benefits of Construction Scheduling Software

So now that we know how vital scheduling is in construction (and if we’re honest, it helps us in all areas of life), how does software make it even better? 

Here are some of the top benefits:

  • Cloud-enabled for anywhere access. Online construction scheduling software is cloud-enabled, meaning it can be accessed from anywhere and on any device. When information or documents are added, or the schedule is changed, the system automatically updates so that everybody has access to the data. If the local zoning department or building inspector needs a document or your client wants to look at a change order, you can send it instantly as everything is stored online. This feature makes life so much easier for project managers and anybody working at the job site as they can respond quickly and get back to work. 
  • Centralizes all data. On any given construction project, there are many different types of documents to manage. From blueprints to schematics, materials lists, vendor contacts, change orders, inspection reports, and more; it can become quite complicated to manage and access everything if you’re trying to do it manually. Construction management software provides a central platform to store, manage, and access all pertinent documents. 
  • Real-time updates. Manual scheduling provides only a static, one-dimensional view of your project and any updates need to be handled individually. Letting workers, technicians, and clients know about changes is time-consuming and inherently error-prone, as the more people that need to be notified, the greater the chance for things to be missed. Construction scheduling software takes those pain points out of the update process as the system pushes out updates automatically and notifies everyone involved without the need for human intervention. 
  • Cost optimization. Statistically, eight out of ten construction projects go over budget. Cost overruns can be avoided with better planning and resource allocation, and construction scheduling software supports that feature. When schedules are managed efficiently, project managers can provide more accurate estimates and better understand where problems might arise. Having this knowledge in advance helps to reduce costs across the board and enables value engineering where applicable. Better cost optimization leads to projects that finish reliably, on time, and on budget. 
  • Accountability. It’s great to have a plan, but you need recourse to get things back on track if things go off the rails. Software brings teams together so that everybody knows who is responsible and accountable for each task. That way, if there is an issue that might affect another team or subcontractor, stakeholders have a direct line to the right person and can save time resolving problems. 
  • Supports the design-build process. Design-build is an overarching trend in construction today as it addresses critical concerns and solves problems before they become costly or contentious issues. Design-build also reduces risk as all stakeholders have a say in the process from the start, helping to avoid the inevitable finger-pointing (and possible litigation) if something goes awry and causes a production bottleneck. Construction scheduling software supports design-build from the initial planning stages through to occupancy, uniting all elements towards a common goal, making sure that everybody is connected to the process from start to finish. 

Of course, there are plenty more benefits, but there’s only so much space here—and we know you need to get back to work! Hopefully, these tidbits have inspired you to take a closer look at construction scheduling software and how it can help you improve processes and grow your business. 

How to Create a Construction Schedule

Creating a construction schedule is an essential first step in any construction project. Once you’ve had your initial meetings with the client and your quote is approved, it’s time to start planning the work. 

We always suggest having a template to work from. You can create this with our step-by-step instructions for creating a construction schedule in Excel or Google Sheets, whatever works best for you. Once you’ve created your template, you can use it over and over again for each new project. 

The BuildBook team created a detailed guide on how to create a construction schedule, and you can access it through this link. In it, we outline five easy steps to help you create your construction schedule template, which you can customize and tweak as your needs evolve. Or, you can also download our free construction scheduling template and dive right in. 

We hope this guide to construction scheduling software has been helpful! At BuildBook, our mission is to help you succeed by making your life (and workload) easier. Start your free trial today and discover how BuildBook can help your business grow.

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