An Argument for Specialized Scheduling Software

Read the article in Modern Contractor Solutions - June 2018

 

defined scheduleManaging and following a defined schedule is imperative to keeping heavy civil construction operations moving. These complex projects rely on coordinated activities among employees, equipment, and materials.

 

However, many construction companies risk going over budget and not finishing projects on schedule by relying on outdated or inefficient scheduling methods like whiteboards, spreadsheets, emails, phone calls, and traditional paper processes. While these processes are comfortable and familiar, they also create a lack of visibility across workflows and increase bottlenecks, errors, and delays. Construction executives often struggle with underperformance due to delays and failed processes.

 

Adopting specialized, online scheduling software for heavy civil construction operations can solve the challenges of traditional processes. Using a specially built construction scheduling solution is a much more efficient way to conduct business.

 

SCHEDULING SOFTWARE BENEFITS

The complexity of modern heavy civil construction projects often results in equipment, materials, and workers being spread out at different jobsites that can be miles apart. Add those variables to the dynamic nature of these projects, and it’s easy to see how logistical mistakes can drive significant costs and delays. Everything from unexpected equipment breakdowns to inclement weather can heavily impact dispatching and scheduling, leaving projects and resources at a standstill.

 

Any electronic construction scheduling software worth its salt must be able to rise to the occasion and accommodate the challenge of coordinating so much activity across multiple locations. Two of the most important benefits of scheduling software are:

 

Increased resource and location awareness: If a worker shows up to one jobsite expecting to use a bulldozer in demolition efforts, but that same bulldozer is actually at another jobsite to rework some landscaping, that demo project is suddenly way behind schedule, and time and money immediately go to waste. Electronic scheduling software gives schedulers and dispatchers important real-time insight into where employees and assets are needed, where they actually are, and where they will be needed in the future. Some solutions even incorporate GPS technology and mapping services like Google Maps, so you can get a visual on the location and coordinate routing of equipment.

 

Enterprise-wide visibility/functionality in real time: Once you know where everything is, scheduling software allows everyone in the company to have visibility into the scheduling and dispatching workflows. And don’t worry—security restrictions can be applied to allow only specific individuals to see information or to make changes. This type of visibility allows collaboration and efficiency as requirements change; foremen in the field can make new requests or see when a crew or piece of equipment is scheduled to arrive; maintenance managers can see where equipment is being used; and schedulers and dispatchers in the office have the complete project picture and can adjust to maximize efficiencies and resource utilization.

 

SCHEDULING SOFTWARE FEATURES

Multiple views. The right electronic scheduling software will allow you to break down your project’s overarching schedule in multiple ways. For example, you could view the schedule per day, week, or other period of time, or in crew-, employee- or equipment-centric modes, depending on the responsibility of the individual using the software.

 

Connectivity. Although scheduling is at the heart of every construction project, it’s by no means your only obligation or an isolated exercise. Your scheduling software should be unified with other operational applications, like maintenance and field tracking. For example, information from the maintenance software on when an asset is down for repair, scheduled for maintenance, or expected to be back in service is vital for the dispatching and scheduling teams. Additionally, the ability to make resource requests in the field tracking software, communicate them directly to the scheduling software, and see all available and assigned resources can make mangers in the field more productive.

 

Conflict resolution. Your employees and vehicles constitute hundreds of moving parts that no single person could possibly keep track of at the same time, which means some degree of conflict is inevitable. Good construction scheduling software will be able to identify these conflicts automatically, as well as make suggestions to resolve them by suggesting how to redirect other workers, vehicles, and resources in the most effective manner.

 

Mobile functionality. Your employees have access to more computing power than ever before, and scheduling software is just one more way to leverage the technology everyone’s already using. To be effective, scheduling and dispatching software must allow workers to view project schedules, make changes, and share information as needed—right from their mobile devices.

 

Communicating with drivers. A scheduling software solution should make it easy to communicate move orders and delivery assignments—including last-minute changes—by text or email. Error-prone phone calls and printed reports become a thing of the past, as dispatchers can quickly send daily assignments to drivers with the click of a button. These assignment notifications can include contact information for the site supervisor and requester for a specific move order, as well as map links to help drivers identify where they’re going.

 

CONCLUSION

By using construction scheduling software, you can move past the inefficiencies and waste of off-line, paper-based processes and optimize your resources, minimize frustrations and downtime, and provide a unified, simplified scheduling solution that allows your team to collaborate in real time.

 

About the Author:

Mike Morneau is a product manager for B2W Software. He has had a leadership role in the development of the company’s specialized B2W Schedule solution for heavy construction resource scheduling and dispatching. For more information, visit www.b2wsoftware.com.

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