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Contractors’ views on project scheduling - and the contractor scheduling software that supports the process - vary widely. Some view scheduling as a necessary evil to satisfy the building owner’s need for control. Others view it as an important discipline for delivering work on-time and on-budget. Typically, the larger and more complex the job, the more important scheduling becomes to both the contractor and the owner. Generally speaking, as jobs get more complex, job scheduling software for contractors becomes more important.
Regardless, scheduling tools available on the market range from a small desktop construction scheduling program to sophisticated multi-user systems integrated within broader project management systems. This guide attempts to parse through these offerings for the construction scheduling software buyer.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Construction job scheduling software supports management of labor, resource, material and equipment schedules. These programs allow a user to define phases and tasks, and then match them with the labor, materials, and resources required to complete each task and phase. Of course, labor and resources introduce constraints and dependencies, which in turn affect the schedule and completion date. Construction schedule software runs complex calculations “under the hood” to account for these dependencies and constantly recalculate the project schedule.
Most project scheduling applications make use of the critical path method (CPM) - an algorithm that calculates the minimum amount of time required to complete a project based on required tasks and dependencies. The user interface is typically visualized through a Gantt chart, which displays each task as a line item, and then illustrates its duration and order with horizontal bars. More sophisticated functionality includes network diagrams, percent completion graphs, and what-if scenario planning.
When evaluating top scheduling software companies, it helps to identify yourself with one of the specific types of buyers we see in the market:
The next step in selecting construction project scheduling software is to map your buyer type to the top-rated vendors that serve the market.
|This type of buyer...||Should evaluate these systems|
|Major project scheduler||Oracle Primavera P6|
|Project manager||e-Builder, HeadsUp, Oracle Primavera P6, PMWeb, Procore|
|Desktop scheduler||Microsoft Project, VirtualBoss|
|Calendar manager||Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar|
As we mentioned above, there is often some debate over the value of developing schedules - field supervisors sometimes find them burdensome, while most managers and owners view them as critical. We concur that schedules are very important, and we see the following benefits:
There are a few market trends that are playing out in construction project scheduling application market. Here are a couple that you should understand: