Overscheduled? Underscheduled? Whatever your case may be, we've got a helpful guide on avoiding common scheduling mistakes.
In the realm of building services, scheduling equals success. With so many stakeholders involved and deliverables to meet, it's imperative to set a timeline at the onset of each project, defined by key checkpoints along the way.
Despite knowing this, it's not uncommon to find project managers swamped with unmeetable deadlines, working until the eleventh hour to meet customer expectations.
In most cases, this extra work is tied to a lack of proper scheduling, and with the right insights, you can change the outcome. Today, we're sharing 10 common scheduling mistakes, along with ways you can avoid them moving forward.
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1. Unrealistic Resource Assumptions
It can be easy to overestimate your company's capacity to perform, especially when you're creating proposals and bidding against other contractors to win the work.
Yet, it's important to keep in mind the realistic breadth of your team. You only have a set number of resources available for each project. Scheduling errors and delays occur when you overcommit those team members or assume there's no limit to their availability.
To avoid this complication, create your schedule with your team's calendar in mind. Make sure that if you commit five workers to be on-site at a set time, that you'll indeed have that crew to send.
This way, you don't have to spend time waiting for resources to become available when you need them. Everyone will know expectations as soon as they begin and can make plans later.
2. Forgetting Dependencies
Project schedules rely on a series of dependencies, where one task feeds into another and employees must execute the plan in sequence for it to work. Even though they're critical, these links are easy to miss.
This is where it helps to have a defined scheduling guide in place. Here, you can lay out the step-by-step process that defines each project, making sure to list every dependency required.
For instance, take new construction. You might remember to put "wall construction" as a step in your plan but fail to remember that foundations must be in place first.
Avoiding this oversight requires an intensive schedule review process. Involve all key team members, including business services providers, to get insight on what's required at every juncture. Then, make sure every step is in the correct and logical order to prevent conflict.
3. A Bird's Eye Scheduling View
Sure, it's simpler to provide a high-level overview of project tasks. It's easier to approve, follow, and change those steps along the way. It's also easier to lose track of them.
When you define your schedule at the sub-task level and beyond, you add an important level of detail that can make all the difference in your time management. Worried you won't be able to keep up with everyone's progress? Invest in workflow management software to stay on track.
When you skim through the schedule, you not only miss dependencies but you also make it more difficult for team members to communicate and share their progress. Instead, add as much detail as you can around every task so team members are aware of their duties and in the loop about everyone else's.
4. Forgetting to Buffer Time
In a perfect world, every project would line up with its corresponding schedule, down to the minute. Yet, that's rarely the case.
Despite your best efforts, you might not make the mark and need at least a few more hours to get the work done. When this happens, you'll need to amend your contract as you ask for an extension.
This can be a costly and complicated effort so go ahead and build contingencies into your schedule that allow for that wiggle room.
This is a common practice when quoting labor. For example, you may only need 150 hours on a work site, but you go ahead and quote 175 hours in case you run into any issues while there (which you will).
5. No Formal Documentation
Think you can remember the schedule as you go along? Think again.
Your team's success hinges on your ability to generate, organize and maintain project-related paperwork that encompasses every stage of construction.
In building services, this means taking notes at every turn, from the initial proposal to the final project sign-off.
The best part? You can do most of this work online. Take site walkthroughs and inspection reports, for instance. Only a few years ago, these were pen-and-paper tasks. You'd have to show up to the site meeting with your pencil and legal pad. Then you would learn shorthand on the fly as the project manager sped-talked through the outline.
Now, online reporting features make it a cinch to make updates and share them with the entire building team. Well-maintained documentation can also help you prove your case in the event that you get into a legal dispute over a transaction.
6. Not Recognizing Weather Constraints
You can use the top scheduling software on the market and have all your materials and labor resources in place beforehand, and still experience a project delay.
How? Two words: inclement weather.
While most building services jobs are indoors, ones such as landscaping are reliant upon the current climate.
When building your schedule, be sure to add in time to allow for these restraints. Then, continue to check the forecast to see how the conditions will be the day of your event. If
it looks like rain in your future, rearrange tasks to make room for the potential hours lost.
7. Failing to Utilize Talent to Capacity
On every project, you want each team member working in the role that makes the best use of his talents.
That said, there are plenty of once-thriving projects that tanked because the assigned team members became burned out and overwhelmed. Rather than putting the weight of the world on their shoulders, why not recruit and delegate?
As you grow your home team, take a second look at who you have performing each task. Is that person the best fit for the job? If the answer is no, you may experience lags as a result of performance loss.
Consider each team member's strengths and place them in the role that will allow them to shine the brightest. That way, you can complete projects on time without sacrificing employee morale along the way.
8. Inaccurate Time Estimates
Unless they've worked on multiple or similar projects in the past, your team members may not know how long it will take you to do the work.
For example, a new maintenance crew might propose that it will take them three days to clean a site once it's complete. Yet, five days pass and they're still scrubbing and vacuuming.
Personal time management is the ticket here. When business managers receive time estimates from other crew members, they should look them over. Then they should meet with each contractor in person to discuss how those numbers came about.
Advanced project management software is invaluable in this regard as it reveals how each team member performed on previous projects. With this knowledge in hand, our lender can compare time estimates to see how they measure up.
9. Overcommitting Due to Pressure
Especially as the project draws to a close, clients can begin to wonder about its progress. If one task is taking longer than it should, it won't be long before you hear about it.
To keep their lucrative and long-term brand loyalty, you may feel tempted to give them anything they ask, even if that means putting a ton of extra pressure on your teammates.
When a client asks, "So, how much longer on deliverable X?" and you respond with, "We can get it to you by the end of the week", you're setting yourself up for a major risk.
Instead of overpromising and under delivering, call a meeting with your client instead. Reference the time estimates detailed in the step above and use them as a basis for the next phase of the project.
10. Refusing to Adapt
When timelines are tight, fuses are short. Understand that issues will likely show up at some point in your project lifecycle. To make sure they don't derail your efforts, be as flexible in your scheduling as possible.
When you're too rigid and regimented, it's difficult to pinpoint a clear way to move forward when these complications occur.
On the other hand, when you build a layer of agility into your schedule, you're free to approach those hurdles with confidence. Avoid making a request such as "I don't care how much time it takes! I want it done now!" Look for pockets of time that you can push other less-critical tasks to and prioritize from there.
Don't Make These Scheduling Mistakes Again
If you can complete a project on time and within budget, you've already won your client's heart and that valuable five-star digital feedback. The key is to understand common scheduling mistakes before you begin, making every effort to avoid them and mitigate their associated risks.
Set your timeline early on and document it. Keep all team members in the loop at every critical stage and listen to their feedback. Make sure your existing employees feel validated and valued rather than overworked and stretched thin.
Then, as the end date draws near, you'll be celebrating a job well done rather than biting your fingernails and pulling overnighters to squeeze it in. Want access to a data-driven business management platform that can take care of most of this legwork for you? That's where we come in.
From bidding to property management, you can do it all from within our comprehensive portal, turning quantifiable data into analyses and reports that deliver value.
We make it easy for team members to communicate, share updates, assign tasks and more. Business managers can then monitor progress at any time via the company portal, where they can track such metrics as omnichannel communication.
Take a look at our pricing structure to learn more and pencil success into your plans.