Squeezing the Most Out of Your Scheduling Software

Any construction company worth its salt develops a comprehensive schedule before embarking on a project.

Construction scheduling software is instrumental in creating CPM schedules. But, sometimes, it’s helpful to remind ourselves exactly what construction scheduling is. An article in Software Advice lays it out as clearly as we have ever seen:

“Construction planning and scheduling refers to the process through which a construction business maps out exactly what will take place during a project, what resources are needed, when key activities will take place, which personnel will be involved, and anything else pertinent to the project.”

Construction scheduling software helps companies represent the strategy, blueprint, and timeline behind their projects in one package using Critical Path Method (CPM) algorithms. However, there is a major disconnect. Most of the industry believes “scheduling” involves creating a baseline schedule and merely updating it on a monthly basis.

To be sure, scheduling is a far more complex endeavor and requires specific controls around the process for it to be useful. Furthermore, schedulers rarely have the time to study performance data, challenge durations, question the sequencing, and review performance history. Much less time to meet with subs and then adjust the schedule to be realistic and achievable–regardless of how aggressive the project manager wishes the schedule to be.


The Complexity of Construction Scheduling Software: Beyond Baseline Updates


A McKinsey study of projects across the globe found that the average delay for construction projects was 2.10 years.

Naturally, this leads to some gargantuan headaches.  A recent article in Construction Executive states, “An alarming 75% of all commercial construction projects are delayed or over budget due to mismanagement of construction schedules.” The next part is especially enlightening and encouraging:

“Those schedules also hold the potential solution. Construction companies unwittingly collect significant amounts of valuable data through scheduling tools such as Primavera P6 or MS Project. Now all that’s needed is a simple way to make sense of it all–to understand where projects went wrong and how to avoid those mistakes in the future.”

To top it all off, most construction scheduling software simply lacks the controls for the industry to easily operate with quality data throughout the project lifecycle. According to data collected by SmartPM, over 88% of project schedules receive lower than a “B” grade. Meaning, the schedules are unreliable for managing a job effectively and, worse, are not at a quality level where the data can be effectively analyzed.

That doesn’t mean the scheduling software itself is below par. It just means that the controls are largely missing from the industry to build with best practices.



With all that as a backdrop, let us pose a question that is at the heart of this blog. Since you’ve invested so much money in your construction scheduling program, why wouldn’t you want to get the most out of it? In other words, why would you not invest in a companion tool to maximize your scheduling program’s execution?


The Forrest Through The Trees: Schedule Controls


Despite the appearance and achievability of schedules, they often contain mistakes like missing logic ties and incorrect data (crew logic, durations, etc.). It doesn’t matter how it happens. But there’s a chance you’ll run into scheduling roadblocks on a project that could be identified and remediated earlier.

That’s not to say that scheduling programs have a built-in deficiency. Schedules simply aren’t designed to self-diagnose. As a matter of fact, they are SO user-friendly. Because often, schedule changes occur to keep an end date that is physically and mathematically impossible. If any real speed bumps are present in the schedule, a controls software will highlight them.

For instance, SmartPM’s schedule quality checker automates the review process, letting users know exactly what to fix before finalizing the schedule. Additionally, the program will tell you whether your project milestones are realistic and, if they aren’t, when you can expect them to be reached at the current pace. Supplying predictive analytics ensures schedule adherence and budget control. It also accounts for schedule changes. Whether these changes are related to subcontractor schedules, design revisions, or any of a thousand different things, the program spits out a reliable picture of how the schedule is impacted.



Getting Started with Schedule Controls for Your Construction Scheduling Software


Schedule control software that automates time-consuming analyses are most effective when used throughout the life of a project.  Most of our clients have specifically added SmartPM to their projects for the entire team, from the site to the C-suite, to see the most current status of each job. It’s a running account–in real-time–of where everything is, where it’s going, and where attention must be focused to address current or future risk(s).

Here’s an added bonus: a good data analytics program helps companies produce better schedules up front. We’ve seen clients whose SmartPM usage repeatedly showed the same issues and areas of concern. By reviewing these recurring patterns, schedulers pay extra attention to those trouble spots, training them to produce a schedule that is more accurate from the start.

There are countless reasons as to why a data analytics program are so…well, constructive.



Working in concert with a high-quality scheduling program helps eliminate project delays and minimize budget overruns. Most importantly, it reduces the chances of a legal dispute. And if a legal dispute arises, data analytics help to definitively pinpoint who is responsible for each setback.

But in the end, it comes down to producing better, more effective schedules. Effective schedules evolve based on the in-depth insights a data analytics product can generate. Your scheduling program is capable of turning out good schedules. Why not turn them into great ones?

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