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The Preconstruction Ecosystem—Pt.2: How Does Planning Influence The Construction Timeline?
Steve Dell’Orto • 08 Jun 2023

The Preconstruction Ecosystem—Pt.2: How Does Planning Influence The Construction Timeline?

A three-part series focused on identifying common processes within preconstruction.

In part one of this three part series we discussed the complexity of preconstruction and how it is much more than just an estimate. In part two we are focusing on the importance of scheduling and planning in the preconstruction phase. This phase sets the foundation for the entire project and has a large impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the project itself.

The basis of preconstruction is establishing a solid plan for construction. Without a solid plan, time will not be optimized, resources will go unmanaged, and costs will spiral out of control. Identifying risks and communicating a well thought out timeline to all parties involved helps preconstruction professionals mitigate risk and coordinate all aspects of the project successfully. 

This series about The Preconstruction Ecosystem is meant to help identify some of the common processes within preconstruction. Below are four processes focused around scheduling and planning in this crucial phase.

Understanding Preconstruction Workflow Ecosystems and Best Practices

1) Permit Planning

Permit planning in preconstruction is the process of identifying, tracking and obtaining any permits, approvals and licenses that are required by law to begin a construction project. Permit plans are typically handled in some combination by the Owner of the project and likely the Architects, as they’re the ones responsible for the design. Once a permit plan is requested, permitting authorities view the design to ensure it complies with code and their own requirements.

In order to fully understand your project, one must first understand the local jurisdiction’s permitting process. Permit planning requirements often dictate the design sequence and schedule of the project. Once obtained, this plan has a major impact on when construction can begin and the requirements that need to be met before starting construction. An increasingly more common permit category is called a Deferred Submittal, this requires the subcontractor to submit design information prior to receiving the permit for certain tradework. This type of requirement is stressful as it involves bringing on Subcontractors earlier than planned in order to start and complete the project within the timeline suggested. At the end of the day, construction cannot begin without having the associated permits in hand. 

When it comes to requirements, most project teams do not understand the requirements and the dependencies of the design or the proper sequencing. Not to mention, teams do not fully account for the durations and back check cycles and the associated durations necessary to factor into the master schedule. This lack of understanding creates serious pressures on the team and often results in additional costs added to the project.

2) Procurement Planning

Procurement planning is the process of identifying, tracking and obtaining the materials, services and resources needed in order to complete a construction project. Procurement is often one of the last stages of the construction project, however procurement planning begins in the preconstruction phase. This involves planning and organizing everything that is required for the procurement phase to make sure everything you need will be available and arrive on time. The best thing you can do for a project is to have a purchasing or procurement plan on how you’re going to bid out the work to be done.

There are multiple steps involved in engaging with Subcontractors, vendors or the supplier market. The first critical step is to competitively “purchase” their services and trade level expertise to supply and build the project. At this stage, it’s important to understand the construction schedule timing, which involves the design team’s timeline for producing designs. Knowing your market is also critical to being able to effectively engage with the subcontractors and vendors that you are sourcing from. Creating a plan as a team to identify, in advance, the best timing and strategy in engaging the subcontractor marketplace is critical. Lastly, having a plan as your baseline to evaluate progress, resource needs and market sensitivity is crucial.

3) Procurement Bid Package Development

Procurement Bid Package Development refers to the process of developing a comprehensive scope of work and the associated drawings, specifications and other relevant information needed to bid the work. It also includes proposed bids from key stakeholders such as Subcontractors, vendors or market suppliers. Bid packages and their respective scopes are defined by the project specifications provided by the design team, as well as the project specific requirements and interface points. It is not as simple as showing documents and getting an email with a bid. Setting up the plan on how you’re going to engage, and the timing and what documents you are planning on using to engage those bid packages is important so that the architect knows how to design and package their drawings. It is critical to have a fully prepared bid in order to stay competitive and avoid issues or surprises through omissions and errors. This process of developing a bid package represents 75% or more of the total hours in the entire procurement process.

The Bid Package Development process is best handled in steps. The first step goes hand-in-hand with finalizing the Purchasing Plan and involves transforming the estimate into a Bid Package Breakdown Structure. Next, you compile all documents and contractual exhibits, which can be a highly manual process. And lastly, you need to have a baseline to evaluate your efforts going forward. 

4) Scheduling, Site Logistics and Phasing

Scheduling and site logistics planning in preconstruction involve enhancing productivity by creating a schedule and organizing the physical components of a construction site. The builder on the project develops the sequence of activities and the durations associated with those activities in a living, breathing document before construction actually begins that can be adjusted throughout the project. 

Site logistics establish how workers will gain access to the site and the logistical organization involved within the site, as it directly impacts the expected rate of productivity for the trades building the project, to ensure maximum efficiency when building the project. Examples of site logistic considerations may include: 

  • The means of accessing the site
  • On-site lay down areas
  • Material and equipment staging
  • On-site distribution of workers and materials 
  • Traffic patterns
  • Haul routes

In order for Subcontractors to be productive on a regular basis, the General Contractor’s logistical plan must be highly detail-oriented. The logistical plan is directly tied to the design of the project, meaning every time the design is adjusted, the logistical plan must be adjusted as well. The estimate, the schedule and the site logistics plan should all be wed at the hip so as to not have any serious discrepancies within the project. When the schedule is done correctly, it’s treated as a master schedule involving not only just the preconstruction team responsible for developing the schedule, but also the design team and their key milestones. 

Phasing, in particular, within a construction plan refers to the accommodations of ongoing facility operations, design sequencing, and/or long-lead material factors, etc. Phasing allows the GC to prioritize items that are divided into sequences, ensuring a smooth workflow. Similar to the logistical plan, the phasing of a project needs to be defined and updated as the design evolves. Both the logistical plan and the phasing continuously inform the estimate, allowing for a more accurate representation of costs and time available for the project. Current tools at the disposal of the preconstruction team make this process extremely time consuming and cumbersome, which often results in lost opportunities to plan in more detail or with access to resources and lessons learned.

Summary

Because preconstruction is elaborate and complex in nature, there tends to be an incredible amount of inefficiency, with teams having to constantly revisit different, independent and informal ecosystems of workflows. The process can become very tedious and the manual effort it takes to keep up with the details can take a lot of time. 

ConCntric was founded to unite workflows, data and people to provide an unparalleled certainty of outcome and trust. Our first phase is to digitize preconstruction workflows into something that is an industry best practice. Our platform focuses on the 80-90% of preconstruction practices that are common across all projects, users and companies. ConCntric helps companies achieve operational efficiency by providing a platform that helps standardize all processes, while still remaining flexible enough to accommodate the unique needs of each individual project. By digitizing and connecting all workflows involved in the preconstruction phase, data is more easily shared and leveraged which ultimately helps make for a more efficient ecosystem.

How ConCntric Helps Preconstruction Processes Succeed:

  • Permit Planning—ConCntric’s preconstruction software, with the use of our Timeline feature, helps to bring focus to the design schedule and allows you to identify, manage and track your permit progress every step of the way. It allows you to create permit milestones that keep your team in the know and let them know who is in charge of particular permit packages. ConCntric allows you to provide your team with consistent updates and/or delays in order to make smarter decisions and adjust the project schedule accordingly.
  • Procurement Planning—ConCntric’s Procurement Plan Module allows for the organization of data, documentation and performance to be properly structured and recognized from one stage to the next. The procurement phase is resource intensive and involves a lot of downstream risk. Thankfully, ConCntric can help mitigate that risk. The more projects you complete, the more data ConCntric can visualize for you in terms of how past projects turned out vs. what the original projections were. With our platform you can forecast your next procurement plan and make sure that you are not making the same mistakes over and over again.
  • Procurement Bid Package Development—ConCntric’s platform assists you in properly developing, coordinating, distributing and vetting your documentation prior to sending bid packages out for competitive bidding. On average, there are 20 bid packages on a typical project and there may be up to 60-70 different trade packages on larger, more complex projects. Without ConCntric, this effort remains dependent on ad-hoc spreadsheets, word documents and extensive manual effort. ConCntric’s platform is the first holistic solution for preconstruction. Our platform organizes and maximizes your data to enable you to make smarter decisions.
  • Scheduling, Site Logistics and PhasingAs the home base for all of your preconstruction efforts, ConCntric as a collaboration platform brings focus to the architect, the owner and the builder. When properly utilized, the planning should include the design phase schedule, anticipated permitting dates, material and equipment lead times and the time for the subcontractor purchasing and administrative processes. ConCntric’s platform allows you to factor in the logistical and phasing requirements with all of your preconstruction planning, making everything more accessible and presentable. By working within our holistic preconstruction management platform, your teams can become more focused on the common project goals and objectives, honing in on durations, sequences and dependencies that have a significant influence on the construction phase schedule. It also allows you to decrease exposure to unexpected costs and bring all aspects of the schedule front and center for everyone to view. Having a master schedule that includes the full perspective of the project delivery process is crucial to making timely and informed decisions, keeping your team accountable, recognizing project financing structures, evaluating cost escalation factors, etc.

This blog post is the second of our three-part series on The Preconstruction Ecosystem. To stay up to date on when part three will be released, follow us on our social media accounts and subscribe to our monthly newsletter here.

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