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Construction is an intricate process. The larger a project’s scale, the more difficult it is to accurately plan the work schedule.

Even without accounting for unpredictable weather and safety concerns, defining an initial project timeline is a challenging task. Construction companies need to consider labor, materials, equipment and countless other factors.

It’s important that construction executives develop a deep understanding of the way their teams work to help mitigate risks.

The importance of timeline accuracy

Delays are one of the most common causes of disputes in construction, often leading to costly, time-consuming litigation. A wide variety of issues affect how quickly project phases are completed, and even a minor delay can impact dependent tasks in a major way down the road.

Likewise, construction companies shouldn’t over-allocate resources or add more time to an estimate than what’s needed. Too much padding in the schedule negatively affects customer satisfaction and may tie up resources that could be utilized on other projects.

Starting with the most accurate timeline possible sets a construction company up for success and helps them deal with unexpected setbacks.

How to plan an accurate project timeline

A construction timeline is an educated prediction of how long each phase of a construction project will take to complete.

The key word is educated. The more a company knows about the project, its team and the construction process in general, the more accurate their estimated timeline will be. That means it’s important for construction companies to:

  • Collect accurate field data
  • Analyze productivity
  • Review historical data during the pre-construction phase

These can be difficult processes to improve at construction companies.

Collecting accurate field data

Field crews are busy with project-related tasks, and often daily reporting is rushed and occasionally forgotten. But without consistent, accurate field data, it’s difficult to assess productivity and improve the accuracy of timeline estimates.

How do construction executives increase the quality and quantity of daily reports without causing their field teams added stress? Many turn to digital tools.

Digital daily reporting is faster and more consistent than pen and paper. Using digital reporting software, field contractors can quickly record field data on their mobile devices and share it with the office in real time.

Digital tools standardize the reporting process with automated workflows that reduce manual data entry and templates that take the guesswork out of daily reports. Contractors record progress, document safety and weather concerns, log hours worked, snap jobsite photos, as well as track material and equipment usage each day with minimal downtime.

Then, they communicate those updates to stakeholders with one click or tap of a button.

Analyzing productivity

Once stakeholders receive data from the field, they need to combine and analyze it to gain useful insights. Digital production tracking tools also streamline the analytics process.

Digital production tracking software automatically collects and organizes report information into easy-to-understand formats. It can translate hard data from multiple sources into charts, graphs and other visual representations of progress.

With digital tools, construction executives can more easily assess productivity in a granular way. They can review dips and spikes in productivity and quickly reference what factors influenced how much work was completed each day on the jobsite. They can determine when staff, materials and equipment were under or over-utilized.

These insights help stakeholders make more responsive, proactive decisions to keep projects on schedule. They can also help stakeholders share more timely updates with customers, which keeps them feeling engaged and informed.

Reviewing historical data

When it’s time to build new schedules, better, more detailed historical data helps improve the accuracy of estimates. Digital reports are stored in accessible, searchable databases that make reviewing historical data easier.

Physical files quickly become unwieldy and unmanageable. Digital storage helps construction executives quickly locate reports related to similar projects so they can use that information to create a new, accurate timeline.

Historical data should influence estimates for labor, materials and phase completion. Stakeholders can review past reports to help predict potential delays and set customer expectations.

Improve profitability and customer satisfaction

More accurate project timelines improve a project’s profitability. It’s easier to fulfill contract terms and make better hiring and purchasing decisions when a construction company starts with an accurate schedule.

An accurate timeline estimate increases customer satisfaction. They’ll start a project with realistic expectations and build trust as work goes according to schedule.

Construction companies should consider investing in digital reporting and production tracking tools to collect and analyze field data. Doing so will not only improve the process of building new timelines, but will also help them keep current projects on track. 

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