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How to prepare A Work Programme for Construction Management.


There are nice software tools like MS Projects, Primavera, Open Plan, Artemis and a whole lots of them available, some even web based and online. Except for MS Project which is a simple intuitive scheduler, most project management software are difficult and complex and can bogged you down with the steep learning curves required. Their price is also a major deterrent.

I personally prefer MS Project because it is simple, intuitive and cheap but it has it's some limitations. For normal construction planning process, MS Project can be used successfully, but be careful not to be carried away to avoid excessive activity and links otherwise you and everybody else will get confused, and the purpose is defected. I have even seen of MS Project print out which goes into several pages, and one would really lost track by the time you get to page 2. So keeping Project Management Simple, like putting everything on just One A4 sheet, is the most important first step to take.

I cannot resist a comment about using more complex software like Primavera. Many people thought using such difficult and complex software is a good solution to successful management of projects. One thing is certain. Unless you specialise and trained exclusively in the use of complex software, you will not be able to do it properly and that defeats the objective of managing your project, as against the software manage you instead. Another issue you need to understand, using the software is 30% of the works while the other 70% depends on real data from site, and without cooperation and a team of players, your data input and update of software is nothing more than just academic. Bear in mind I am talking in relation to Civil & Structural Works and not other Works like making a Nuclear Bomb or a Jet Fighter. So for all of our works, I recommend using simple methods, and concentrate on managing the works and not the software.

A simpler method which works for me is an old fashion Bar Chart using pen and paper on graphs or better still using Spreadsheets like Excel, Open Office, Google Doc. Simple and Plane, everybody can see at a glance, don't need a degree in physics. Simple Bar Chart has been used ages ago and no reason not to continue their use unless project specifications require that a more complex project management software is required.

In this sections I will look at both MS Projects and Spreadsheet Methods, which you can use or your own projects.

Planning your Project

The first step in Planning a Project is to Plan Elemental Work Activity.

Let us use the example of "Construction of a Single Cell Box Culvert". If you have seen the works or done the works before than it is easy to visualise the activities involved and thus planning the work sequences are that much easier. However, if it is something new and you have not experienced before then it is harder to understand ALL the work sequences and thus more difficult to plan them out. In this case where you are not familiar, the technique is to start everything from the ground up, work sequentially and then obtain expert input in each activities.

In every construction project the Principal Activities are:

  1. Mobilisation 
  2. Survey 
  3. Site Clearing 
  4. Earthworks 
  5. etc.... actual activity
  6. etc.... actual activity
  7. etc.... actual activity
  8. Testing & Commissioning 
  9. Hand Over 

Note Items 1 --> 4 and 8 -- 9 are basic and would occur in every project whether it's for civil infrastructure or building works. However, items 5 --> 7 are more details works specific to each project eg: these would differ from a Box Culvert to a Bridge Work or an Airport Runway. I will cover more specialised articles on how to Plan for Any Work Activities even if you do not have experienced in them yet, but for now we will concentrate on Planning for a Box Culvert Construction, as this will form the basis of all future Project Construction Planning.

Thus in the case of a Box Culvert, the Activities are as follows :-

  1. Mobilisation
  2. Survey & Setting Out
  3. Site Clearing
  4. Earthworks
  5. Piling
  6. Base Slab & Aprons
  7. Side Walls
  8. Top Slab
  9. Wing Walls
  10. Earth Drains
  11. Embankment/Filling
  12. Turfing/Finishing
  13. Hand Over

There are no hard and fast rules on how many activities you need. The general rule is as long as the activity have elements of "costs", "certifications", "contractual obligations", "require man-days", then include them as activities.

Using MS Project to prepare Work Programme

Using Excel to prepare Work Programme

Using Google Docs to prepare Work Programme

Using Primavera to prepare Work Programme

For more on Managing your Construction Works Using Work Programme

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Philip Goh (B.Sc, MIEM, P.Eng. MICE, C.Eng)


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Authur- Philip Goh (B.Sc, MIEM, P.Eng. MICE, C.Eng) MEC Engineers, Civil & Structural Engineer HP: 016-8672189, Email: Widget: email cloaker