The effective planning & scheduling of a project results in lower costs, better use of resources, higher quality results, and an overall boost in productivity. This has been proven time and time again but yet it is fairly often that projects take longer than expected. Some companies and individuals feel tempted to adapt a "wing it" approach to projects, even very large projects, believing that that the project is an exception to the careful planning rule. This can have a disastrous outcome because regardless of the objective...effective planning and scheduling is crucial for productivity on industrial projects.
An Effective Plan Provides Benchmarks to Measure Success
One of the most basic and fundamental ways that effective planning and scheduling impacts productivity is by providing benchmarks to measure success. Just about all projects in the industrial sector will have numerous moving parts and multiple smaller steps. This is a good thing because it breaks the large project into more manageable with better timelines. That is because with a clearly enumerated plan in place and a schedule of when certain things need to be begun, completed, and reviewed, it is much easier to measure the overall success trajectory of a project. This in turn allows any problems to be spotted and corrected as soon as possible, and any delays to be compensated for before they derail the larger project. By contrast, without benchmarks a project can easily stray from the scope, become significantly delayed, or greatly exceed its budget before anyone even notices.
A Strict Schedule Is Critical for Coordination
As discussed above, most plans have multiple phases and steps to build on each other. Quite often these steps must be completed in a specific order, otherwise subsequent steps cannot be taken. A good example is that shipments, equipment, and work crews must arrive before the work can begin. If these resources are delayed or scheduled for the wrong time, the project grinds to a halt. Conversely is isn't good for them to arrive before they are needed because this results in extra people on the clock, or as-yet-unneeded equipment and goods having to be paid for and stored. Therefore it is paramount that everything be as carefully and precisely coordinated as possible, and without effective planning and scheduling that is simply not possible.
Planning and Scheduling Maximizes Use of Time, Labor, and Other Resources
It is not enough merely to scheduling various aspects of the project in the first place; they should be scheduled in such a way to maximize resources and productivity. Having a thorough, carefully mapped plan enables the project manager to see the entire picture at once and act accordingly. Often this will mean having contractors complete multiple tasks in one project rather than coming back (and billing for) two or more separate projects. This can also result in redeploying laborers and resources from a part of the project that is ahead of schedule into one that has fallen behind.
Planning and Scheduling Allows for Contingencies to be Developed
Unfortunately the likelihood of the unexpected delay to happen is very high considering outside factors beyond the control of the contractor. While even the best laid plans will still go awry from time to time, having a prepared contingency plan in place can help minimize the damage. A contingency is like a plan B, essentially a course of action that will be taken in the event that the main plan goes wrong. In terms of an industrial project this can mean having back up equipment in place if the primary equipment breaks down, having additional workers on call in case someone can’t show up, or having a relationship with more than one vendor or supplier in case a shipment is lost or delayed. Having an strong plan and schedule in place allows the project manager to see potential trouble spots and develop contingencies before something goes wrong.
Planning And Scheduling Is Crucial for Turnarounds
In a past article we discussed 7 Important Ways to Maximizes the Effectiveness of a Turnaround
. One of those key ways was with careful planning and scheduling. That is because large scale industrial turnarounds must be carefully orchestrated, highly efficient projects because they cost the refinery so much money. Delays and other problems can severely impact the bottom line. With turnarounds it is imperative that every hour of downtime be as productive as possible.
Planning and Scheduling Puts Everyone On The Same Page
Input from those in the field with real world experience can help tighten up expectations and formulate more accurate schedules. It is the project manager and other leaders who must be looped in on all planning and scheduling activities that affect their areas of control. Keeping everyone in tune with the schedule helps keep the project on time within the estimated budget.
STI Group executes effective, proven planning and scheduling strategies as a complementary function to our project management services. We emphasize clear and frequent communication and we closely monitor the plan’s success and other benchmarks to ensure that it stays on track. Our planning & scheduling services are designed to work hand-in-hand with P3 or P6 Primavera Software. It is our goal to help optimize our customers’ projects, provide exemplary service, and maximize productivity.