A construction project evolves through many phases with each one presenting its own unique challenges. That is why Project Planning and management are so critical to ensuring a client’s desired outcomes and objectives are achieved.
“If you fail to plan you are planning to fail”
A successful project is not an accident. Northcroft’s experience ensures a detailed project plan is prepared. This is essential and serves as a roadmap for the project team. A detailed and robust project plan proves to be an invaluable tool which can be used to measure progress, delays and assist the project team in the decision-making process. In fact, a detailed and strategic project plan is the most important aspect of successful construction project management.
Construction Project Phases
A Construction Project entails 4 different phases, as highlighted in Figure 1 below.
Phase 1: Initiation Phase
During this phase, it is important to gain an understanding of the key deliverables, critical milestones, roles, and responsibilities of all the stakeholders involved in the project.
Phase 2: Planning Phase
An integrated detailed project plan will be developed, containing scope, schedule, cost, risk, procurement, resources, stakeholder requirements and communication needs. This micro level project plan functions as a roadmap for the project team during the execution phase. The project team must be aware of the objectives of the project, identified by the key milestones and deliverables.
Phase 3: Execution
This is the execution stage of the Project Plan which produces the work and key deliverables.
Phase 4: Closeout Phase
The Closeout Phase involves handover of deliverables to the end user. All documents and closeout procedures are followed to ensure client approvals are obtained on time. A good document control system is key for managing project records.
Project planning for construction is an important tool used by project managers to understand large, complex projects. It requires gaining an understanding of exactly what the final desired outcome should be and defining the steps required to achieve that outcome.
There is a common misunderstanding within the industry that Project Planning is the same as Project Scheduling. This is not the case.
In simple terms, Project Planning is the “WHAT and “HOW” of a project and Project Scheduling refers to the “WHO” and “WHEN”.
Project Scheduling is a subset of Project Planning. In other words, Project Scheduling is one of the components of Project Planning (Refer below Figure 2 and Figure 3).
Successful Project Delivery
To ensure a Client’s objectives are achieved, the project deliverables and scope of works must be fully understood and appreciated. This requires more than simply entering tasks into a software application.
Responsibilities also need to be assigned to each task and deliverables defined with appropriate due dates and accountabilities included.
Finally, the planning process needs to include risk management assessments and activities.
Once established, a Project Plan is consistently updated as the project progresses. Construction projects are always challenging, so a proactive approach must be adopted to ensure success.
Therefore, Project Planning is a key component in the delivery of any project. The importance of this is summarised below.
Project Delivery (PD) = Project Plan (PP) * Work Efforts (WE)
Project Delivery (PD) = Refers to the project deliverables or expert services which require Client acceptance and approval.
Project Plan (PP) = A course of action with a detailed list of activities established in order to accomplish the deliverables.
Work Efforts (WE) = Assignment and utilisation of resources. (People, Tools and Technique)
A well-thought-out Project Plan must provide clear direction to the project team to ensure they understand the scope of works with all key deliverables highlighted. Project Plans typically produced by Northcroft include:
a) Detailed Schedule of Works
b) Resource Allocation Plan
c) Budget Allocation Plan
d) Schedule Monitoring & Controlling Procedure
e) Stakeholder Communication and Reporting Plan
Northcroft adopt this approach on all projects ranging from local roads, highways, railways and bridges, high-rise buildings, shopping malls and residential buildings.
Our experience has shown that when the above approach is adopted, the success of the project increases. It also means the project team have far more control over the project and are more responsive to any challenges that may arise.
This proactive approach has a proven track record of success. There are also many advantages to this approach which include the efficient and effective management of time and data that has often assisted in the claim’s management process.
Steps in Preparing a Successful Project Plan
Step 1 List the critical milestones, key project deliverables, project constraints, considerations, assumptions, and associated risks. Understand the scope of works.
Step 2 Create interactive workflow process including requirements and clear stakeholder communication channels using industry best practices.
Step 3 Decomposition of overall scope information into manageable work components using a Work Breakdown Structure.
Step 4 Estimate the realistic resource requirements and their availability. Ensure the project team have the knowledge and expertise.
Step 5 Develop project schedules integrating the project budget and resource allocation.
Step 6 Establish an integrated project control system. Manage the periodic Project Plan updates including project documents and change requests. All decisions to be communicated to the stakeholders.
Having a robust Project Plan provides many benefits to the project team, such as:
- Identifying the process and activities required for the key deliverables.
- Providing information that enables realistic estimates of the required resources.
- Assisting in visualizing the project activities, deliverables, and their interdependencies.
- Enabling procurement and management of the required project resources.
- Guiding the performance measurement of the works delivered and keeping all stakeholders well informed of the work status.
- Highlighting predicted and absorbed project delays – especially where preventive and corrective actions are required to meet the project objective.
- Helping to develop mitigation plans to resolve any project delays while assisting in the determination of works disruption due to various factors outside the control of the project team.
- Supporting claims administration of contested and constructive change requests.
- Establishing clear pathways for the settlement of all claims and disputes through negotiation, arbitration, and litigation.
Looking for robust project planning expertise?
With over 180 years’ experience in project management and construction consultancy services, Northcroft provides clients with proactive project management expertise that are designed to deliver predictable outcomes. To discuss your upcoming project requirements, contact us.
Article from Northcroft Middle East office