Last edited 12 Nov 2020

Time management of construction projects

See also: Scheduling construction activities.

Time management is the process of organising and implementing a strategy related to the time required for work activities on a project. Effective time management is essential to successfully and efficiently meeting budget and programme targets, as well as achieving profitability.

Projects can risk incurring unnecessary costs and delays as a result of ineffective time management, either by failing to allow for the full complexity of a project, or by failing to effectively manage scheduled work or unexpected events.

On large projects, the client may appoint a programme consultant to prepare a detailed programme for the project including an outline programme for construction if a contractor has not been appointed. Once the contractor is appointed, they will take responsibility for programming the construction works, but the programme consultant may continue to develop an overall programme for the client.

During the planning stage, all work activities should be properly understood, and planned in detail to optimise the allocation of resources and reduce the potential for ‘unknowns’. Estimates can then be made of how long each activity will take. This is critical to the setting of milestones and deadlines, for allocation of resources, and for determining the pricing of contracts and cashflow requirements.

As well as work packages, time management should also make allowance for activities including:

The concept of 'float' describes the time that an activity can be delayed without changing the overall project duration. The float is obtained by subtracting the duration of activities from the available time. The critical path is determined by all activities were the total float is zero.

The critical activities have to be carried out without delay, any modification in their duration results in change in the project’s duration. The duration of an activity can sometimes be reduced by adding additional resources, but this will also increase its cost.

There are a wide range of articles on Designing Buildings Wiki describing a range of tools, devices and techniques that can be used to assist with time management.

For more information see: Scheduling construction activities, and Programme for building design and construction.

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