3 Ways to Optimize You Job Schedule

The Binghamton Johnson City Sewer Plant serves as the perfect example of a Project Managers worst nightmare. The new wastewater construction project located in Binghamton, NY., is twelve months behind schedule. As a result, the contractor hired to complete the project is fined $15,000 per month due to the delay, fines better known as liquidated damages.

There are many reasons for the lengthy delay in the project. However, one glaring problem is the project schedule. The schedule is what informs the client of the potential opening date. Obviously, the schedule for the Binghamton Johnson City Sewer Plant derailed drastically. How can you avoid a similar fate with your project?

1. Create a Baseline Schedule

Baseline schedule is the original schedule for the project. It is separate from the master schedule in that it does NOT change. Your baseline schedule serves as the original template for the master schedule. The reason it remains unchanged is to track changes to the master schedule, such as rain delays or material delays, and noting how those unforeseen conditions affected the overall timeline.

As an example, let’s say you are 15 days away from pouring your foundation. That is the date listed on your baseline schedule. You have not experienced any delays to this point, so your master schedule is the same as your baseline schedule. However, a week before you are set to pour your foundation, you receive a significant amount of rain over the next 2 days. Your master schedule will shift at least 2 days, probably more due to muddy conditions produced by the rain, while your baseline schedule remains the same. Now you are able track when your schedule shifted and why.

2. Create Milestone

In case you do not know what a milestone is, allow me to define it. A milestone is a single completion task item vital to the overall completion of the project. For instance, installing shingles on the roof of a house is critical for the completion the house itself; therefore, installing shingles is a milestone to track the overall progress of the project.

Milestones typical to a commercial construction project are pad prepared, slab poured, roof installed, drywall installed, flooring installed, and fixtures installed. These single line items should be given a specific date and inserted into the master schedule. If those milestones are completed on time, then there is a good chance your project will turnover on time.

3. Use Two Week Look-Ahead Schedules

The master schedule is a bird’s eye view of the entire project. A two week look-ahead schedule is exactly what it sounds like; it focuses solely on the next two weeks of the project. The two week look-ahead schedule is effective because it provides a more detailed list of tasks that need to be completed in order to keep the master schedule driving toward milestone completion.

As an example, let’s say you are in the framing phase of your project. Your master schedule may list broadly “framing” for the next two weeks. Your two week look-ahead schedule will break the general “framing” line item into specific tasks: Layout complete, track installed, exterior walls framed and sheathed, trusses installed, roof decking installed, interior walls built, and blocking installed. With those specific tasks listed and assigned completion dates, you are better prepared to track the progress of the framing to ensure it is completed within the two weeks allowed on the master schedule.


This is not a comprehensive list of all the effective ways to optimize your project schedule; however, these three items may be the most effective ways appearing on a comprehensive list. Utilize these methods and transform your project schedule into an effective tool.

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