A famous military adage from the British army goes; Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. Planning in construction is no exception.
Planning is one of those aspects that affects the outcome of so many different things in life.
By definition, planning is an orderly / step by step proposal on how an end product / goal will be achieved and when it comes to construction, this starts the day the idea to put up a structure is conceived.
Bearing in mind that there are so many different personnel (professionals) involved in the construction process, one has to ensure that each of these is duly included in the planning process. The planning in construction phase entails determining the resources required for the project and should not only focus financial planning but also time, materials, suppliers as well as human resource i.e. labour. The equipment needed for the project is also determined at this phase.
Whether documented (as should ideally be the case) or not, a project plan should address the following areas with regard to the project;
• The scope of the project i.e. time and cost – within what time do you want to complete your construction and working within what budget?
• Objectives of the project – what kind of structure are you setting up and what will be the necessary requirements needed to be put in place to ensure that the project meets its intended objectives? Is it a hospital, road, school, mall or home?
• Milestones – what activity or stage of the project will signify substantial progress?
• A work schedule and breakdown structure – given the different tasks that make up the construction process, it is important to clearly indicate when each of these tasks will be carried out and the systematic sequence that the different tasks will follow.
• Progress tracking – with respect to the schedule, one should be able to track the progress of the project based on actual output against planned output and determine whether the project is on course or lagging.
There are certain tasks and activities within the construction process that cannot be easily rushed for example certain procurement lead times, concrete curing times etc. and whoever is in charge of the project should ensure that while planning, these are well catered for and where need be, the processes be started early enough to ensure that they do not cause delays on the project. For instance if certain equipment to be installed on a structure is to be imported and (sometimes) quality tested first (say a standby generator), this is a process that can take almost 4-5 months sometimes depending on where it is coming from and the importation formalities involved. Putting the procurement process of this item on hold till the last minute would mean one of two things; either the overall project duration gets dragged by a period equivalent to that which the item takes in transit and testing; or, short cuts are taken to deliver it within time and most times this comes with a cost implication and sometimes a compromise on quality.
When it comes to the actual construction works on the project, failure to undertake planning in construction well results into tasks getting neglected or unsatisfactorily done because one is in a hurry to move on to the next task; and as a result the structure may not achieve the desired structural strength properties.
With planning comes deliverables and poor planning results in delayed project completion, cost overruns and poor quality work among other things. It is therefore important that the team in charge of the project accurately and appropriately plans prior to execution of activities to ensure smooth flow of works, value of money and timely completion.
Post Graduate Diploma – Project Planning and Management; (Uganda Management Institute)
BSc. Construction Management (Hon.); (Makerere University, Kampala)