5 Best Construction Scheduling Techniques for Labor

By: on April 23, 2019

As they say, time is money. And when you see one of your workers standing around because he has nothing to do for the next hour, that’s your money, slowly circling the drain.

The average profit margin for general contractors is between 1.4 and 2.4 percent. It doesn’t take much to completely wipe that out and cause you to be operating at a loss for a construction project—and overpaying for labor is one very good way to do it.

Construction managers must employ construction scheduling techniques that efficiently use construction software and the following best practices, or they will be paying out more money for labor than they need to and risk delays to the project and a significant loss of revenue.

Let’s dive into a few best construction scheduling techniques that managers need to institute to be successful when scheduling labor.

1. Use Software to Draft a Schedule

You simply can’t get away with pen and paper anymore when it comes to scheduling. You need good construction software to keep these complicated projects in order, or your competitors will eat you alive.

There are many software options to choose from, but when you’re shopping for the right solution, here are a few features you should be looking for if you want to achieve maximum efficiency with scheduling:

top software features for effectively scheduling labor

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Set aside a couple hours to start looking for a software option that will fit your business, and use the above checklist as a guide. If you don’t have a couple hours to scroll through software sites, give us a call at (855) 998-8505 for a free, 15-minute consultation with our construction software experts!

2. Build Accountability Into Your Construction Schedule

You can put a lot of work into planning and put together a great schedule, but if you don’t have accountability built in, you’re going to be frustrated.

It’s pretty common in the world of construction for just one person or a few people to bear the responsibility for project scheduling. But sometimes the schedule doesn’t get updated throughout the project, or those who are responsible for it aren’t checking up to make sure the teams are working toward it.

This can be problematic. Say your foreman has scheduled bricklayers to work in the same part of your site and at the exact same time as you had scheduled a subcontractor to do some plumbing work. One of them is not getting their work done for the day and will therefore fall behind schedule. By getting together with your team on a regular basis to talk about the schedule for the day and the week, you can avoid these scenarios altogether.

Construction Software Features That Can Help:

Communication platform Communication through construction software helps everyone check in on each other. And since most solutions are cloud-based, you can keep touch while at the site.
Templates Assign responsibility for work with template schedules that can be reused.

Co-Construct’s software is accessible on mobile via the cloud (Source)

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Include your entire team in the project scheduling process and provide clear expectations so you get the buy-in you need to make the things you carefully added to the schedule actually happen on time.

It doesn’t have to be complicated: just get together with your team at the start of the day, communicate to them what you expect to be done, and listen for feedback if they feel they can’t meet your deadline so you can brainstorm a solution or rework the schedule.

3. Closely Align Project Teams

Even if you have team buy-in, those teams need to be closely aligned in order for you to be successful.

For example, if the team designing a project is not in communication with the workers who are actually going to build the building, they may design something that can’t be completed in the way they envision, or at least not on the timetable they want.

The entire construction team must collaborate from the start and throughout the project in order to avoid problems of misalignment like this.

Construction Software Features That Can Help:

Communication platform There’s no better way to align a team than by ensuring that they’re consistently in touch, which construction software helps with.
Automatic schedule updates Construction software ensures that when one person changes the schedule, it updates the schedule for everyone else
Conflict detection Anyone who attempts to schedule something at a time and place where someone else is doing work, all parties can be alerted before it’s too late.

esub meeting minutes

eSub allows users to create meeting minutes and share with relevant parties (Source)

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Use design or architectural software that has collaboration features before the project so that your teams can both create and review visualizations of the project.

4. Efficiently Schedule Material Deliveries

It’s no good to have your workers all perfectly scheduled and ready to work, only to find that they don’t have any materials to work with. If you haven’t taken the time to carefully plan out material deliveries over the course of the project, you’re setting yourself up for just that situation. And that means delays as well as schedule chaos as you scramble to fix the mess.

Contact your suppliers and ask them how much advance notice they need for material orders so you know exactly when you need to play your order. It’s best to do this before you even set the schedule for your project so it’s easier to make adjustments to accommodate your suppliers. That way, when the day comes, all the material will be at the site ready for your workers so they’re not standing around with nothing to do.

Construction Software Features That Can Help:

Templates Construction software often comes with customized templates that attach jobs with material deliveries.
Multiple dashboard views You can select software that makes it easy to monitor material deliveries with simple overview and deep-dive dashboards.

Procore’s Project Home page includes important information about a project (Source)

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Always connect each event on your project schedule with a material delivery. Do you plan to have workers start pouring concrete for the foundation on the 12th, and it takes 48 hours to get a concrete delivery in from your supplier? Make a note to order the concrete by the 9th or earlier to give yourself some wiggle room.

5. Have Subcontractors at the Ready to Fill in Gaps

Inevitably, something is going to crop up during your construction project that is going to test your schedule. Perhaps several workers come down with an illness, or a supplier ran into problems and was unable to deliver on time.

When that happens, you need to be ready to fill in the gaps. And one of the best ways to do that is with subcontractors.

On a day-to-day basis, subcontractors are going to be more expensive than workers in your employ. But when you’re faced with a major schedule delay, they can be a real money-saver.

Construction Software Features That Can Help

Communication platform You can keep contact information for all your subcontractors within the software and loop them into a project immediately when necessary.
Automatic schedule updates The subcontractor should be on the same schedule as everyone so they can see changes made to the schedule by your team and adjust accordingly.


BuilderTrend’s software automatically updates the schedule for the team (Source)

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Start developing stable or reliable subcontractors now—that way, when a crisis emerges, you’ll know exactly who to call. Construction software can help you keep a database of these subcontractors complete with notes on their past performance.

Make Adjustments to Your Scheduling Process Today

The longer you wait to fix your scheduling process, the more you’re going to be paying out on wasted labor costs. Good construction scheduling techniques are absolutely vital to your business, and you can’t ignore it. Take a few simple steps today to get started on the right track and boost your firm’s bottom line:

  • Review your software. Does it have the features listed above? Is it meeting your needs? If not, it’s time to start exploring what other software options are out there.
  • Schedule daily meetings with the entire team to review the schedule for the day so you can sure everyone has bought in.
  • Start attaching material deliveries to each event on your schedule.
  • Create a database of subcontractors to draw from in an emergency.

Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.

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