Superintendent: Look-Ahead Schedules

A look ahead schedule is the tool that brings all of the planning and collaboration on a job site into one place.  There is a myth that “look ahead schedules are just a waste of time because they are never accurate…so why do them?”  If that is the case in your world, take a step back for a minute and look at the reasons why they are not accurate and how you can make them better.

 THE GOAL

Create a look ahead schedule that is at least 80% accurate on an ongoing basis and have a method that is flexible when there are minor adjustments that keep the project on track.

THE PROBLEM

Most look a heads are only 30% accurate, the subs don’t read them and the owner wants to know why they are slipping every week.

THE SOLUTION

Follow up, diligence, and communication as well as general knowledge of actual duration and productivity rates for your trades.

ACTION STEPS

  1. Review and know your project status
  2. Communicate constantly with your trades about status
  3. Ask yourself if what you heard is actually attainable and make adjustments
  4. Meet with all trades together once a week.
  5. Follow Up on commitments and hold everyone accountable
  6. Repeat

Know the status of your project.

Diligently sticking to the schedule of walking the project every day to review progress will, over time give you a feel for the momentum and direction of the project.  Take notes each day on key progress areas and key delay areas. Note the actual productivity of units in place for each trade and how they are impacting the critical path of the project.

 Communicate with your trades

When you complete your walk you will have a list of the key items affecting the project.

  1. Take the time to talk to each of the foreman about their individual status and how it is affecting the project this includes productivity, projected durations, & issues.
  2. Ask probing questions if you feeling like the information you are getting may not be accurate.
  3. Side note, it is a must that you TALK to each trade, email follow up is fine after the conversation
  4. Get a commitment from them that they will be true to their word

Make adjustments and communicate

Once you get the real story from your trades:

  1. Make any adjustments to the schedule
  2. Send it out to your trades.
  3. Documentation is a key point for effectiveness.

Formal meetings

This does not have to be a long meeting.

  1. Get input from all team members together after you have talked to them individually.
  2. Confirm everyone is onboard and to confirm they are working together toward the common goal.
  3. It will be easy to see if someone has not bought into the plan.
  4. Make sure to address any conflicts in that meeting.

Hold Everyone Accountable

Accountability is the backbone to meeting schedules. Lead your project with accountability. As you walk the project, confirm with your trade that they will meet their commitment to you. Personal commitments are sacred to most. They will do anything in their power to keep their word. You just need to be there to remind them, coach them and help get any road blocks out of their way.

Schedule and momentum are everything on a project.  Your job is to generate and maintain that momentum through conflict and delay.  Bringing people together in a true team can overcome many of those challenges.

Please remember… People don’t like when schedules are never met and changes happen without notice…they lose confidence in leadership quickly.  People do not mind change when they have advance notice and feel they everyone is working together even with slip ups every once in a while.   Make sure everyone is rowing in the same direction, when problems arise work through them stay positive.  Human nature is to help others when they have the environment and space to do so.

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