Job SchedulingNovember 12th, 2010 by admin
Benefits of Construction Software: Generating Construction Schedules
In my last post I talked about how an integrated construction software system can automatically generate customized documents for your customer with specific information about their job. Another thing an integrated construction software system should be able to do is generate a CPM job schedule.
What’s a CPM schedule?
CPM means Critical Path Method. Critical Path Method means that the completion of work items in your job schedule has to follow a specific sequence, and some work items cannot begin until other items have been completed.
For example, you can’t start the foundation until the excavation has been done; you can’t start the framing until the foundation is done; you can’t start rough plumbing and wiring until the framing is done, etc.
So a CPM schedule is a schedule that’s based on the idea that work items must follow a “critical path”. Critical items are work items that must be completed before others can begin, and the critical path is the sequence that work items must follow.
So an integrated construction software system can generate a job schedule? How?
Glad you asked… As I mentioned in my last post, one of the advantages of integrating the data in a software system is that data entered in one part of the program can be shared by other parts of the program. Job scheduling is a good example. As long as each estimate item is assigned to a “job phase”, then the job estimate already contains all of the data necessary for the job schedule.
By definition, a ” phase” is “a stage in a process of change or development”. So a job phase refers to work that is done on a job at a particular point in the process. For most types of construction, it is possible to define job phases that are common to all jobs, and that follow the same sequence from one job to the next.
This is how an integrated construction project management system generates a job schedule from the data in the job estimate. All you have to do is assign items in the job estimate to job phases, and the program can then automatically arrange the job items in a schedule.
Since the sequence of the job phases defines a “critical path”, the schedule produced by arranging job items by job phase is by definition a critical path method (CPM) schedule.
CPM scheduling is a great tool because it can automatically generate a job schedule from data in your job estimate, and that saves you a lot of time. But that’s not the greatest thing about it. The more significant benefit of automatic integrated CPM scheduling is that the schedule is automatically adjusted whenever anything happens or changes in the job that would have an effect on the job schedule. For example…
• Something happens to delay a particular phase of work on a job; bad weather, delayed shipment of materials, equipment breakdown, etc., so the schedule for the rest of the job has to be pushed back. By using automatic CPM scheduling, all you need to do is change the duration of the delayed item, and the rest of the schedule is automatically shifted accordingly.
• The customer requests a change order that affects the job schedule. Here is another good example of the benefit of data integration. If the change order data is integrated with the job estimate data, then the job estimate is automatically updated when the change order is approved. And if the schedule is integrated with the job estimate data, then the job schedule is also automatically updated when the change order is approved as well.
More Data Integration
OK, so the program automatically generates and updates the job schedule. Great. But since the data in the system is integrated, what other business management processes are involved that depend on the job schedule, and that might fall into place from information in the schedule? Well, there are a few.
Once you have a job schedule, the program can then automatically generate a number of things such as…
An Allowance Schedule shows the list of allowance items, with the dates on which each item must be ordered in order to be received in time for scheduled installation.
A Draw Schedule shows the dates on which anticipated draw payments will be due, and the anticipated amount of the draw payments. The payments are based on the value of the job items anticipated to be completed within the draw payment period
Purchasing is area in which an integrated construction project management system can be of tremendous benefit. Instead of sitting and staring at plans for hours on end to compile lists of materials to purchase, an integrated construction project management system will generate purchase orders for you automatically. And if the construction system also integrates the job schedule data, then the purchase orders can be generated based on the schedule in which the materials purchased need to be delivered in time for installation.
If you have employees, then you need to provide them with instructions for what work items they are assigned to at which job sites, and when. An integrated construction project management and scheduling system will allow you to assign employees (resources) to schedule items, and then automatically generate work orders to be distributed (by paper or email) to employees. Work orders can be re-generated as a result of last minute changes and updates to the job schedule.
All this, just from the job schedule.
And all of that job schedule, just from the job estimate. Yes, integrated data is the way to go.
But before you go off and purchase the first construction software system that advertises “integrated data”, you need definitely nee to read my next post for caveats about software systems that are advertised as being “integrated”…