Working the Plan with Project Management
When it comes to scheduling, we plan backward and execute forward. Sounds catchy, but what does it mean in the real world of project and construction management?
Consider this example from a recent project: a multi-story apartment building that was undergoing renovation. The exterior needed to be caulked and painted, preferably before harsh winter weather set in. From experience, we knew this type of work would take about three months.
So, we could have just arranged for the painting contractor to arrive three months before the work needed to be done, right? Not exactly.
Arranging the Pieces
Experienced project managers, like those on staff at Real Projectives®, understand that every project includes a multitude of pieces that must fall into place in the right sequence and at the right time. For that reason, scheduling, as a planning and risk management tool, is critical to project management success.
In our apartment example, we began with the end in mind by first defining the final outcome: having the building caulked and painted. Then, we identified all the necessary steps required to achieve that outcome. We planned it backward. Some of the steps for this project included alerting apartment residents; preparing scaffolding on the site to reach the sides of the 12-story building; hiring the contractor; and applying for permits to transport and erect the necessary equipment on site from local authorities and the state highway administration. (State permitting was required because one side of the site ran along a state road.) We also kept in mind that Michigan weather can cause unpredictable delays.
Given all the factors, our schedule called for six months of activity — not just three — to be able to complete the project. The desire to finish before winter weather put the optimal kick-off time in June. That’s when we started executing forward.
So, what if we would have planned backward just three months? It would have spelled trouble for all parties involved. Missed deadlines can cost developers, businesses and organizations time, money and even their reputation. Building occupants can be at best slightly inconvenienced or at worst completely unable to do business.
If bad weather had set in before the project was done, the work would have slowed considerably or been halted completely. Or, some sort of shelter would have been required for the painters to work in, which would have added to the project length and cost.
Whether they’re working on a more straightforward new build or a trickier renovation, our project managers take a proactive approach to scheduling with the appropriate stakeholders. For us, the schedule is not a one-and-done endeavor; it’s a living, working tool. With any project plan, it’s important to update (at least monthly), to look at progress against the schedule and, when necessary, to redirect time, money or resources.
Real Projectives® clients feel confident that their designated project managers have an eye on the schedule going forward, even as they plan backward.
Are you facing a project deadline and need reliable support? For more information on project management from start to finish, or the range of services Real Projectives® offers clients, browse some of our other articles — or give us a call at 888.357.7342.