This paper challenges the view that insufficient planning techniques are to be blamed for the failure of construction planning to accomplish its goals. Studies and observations of researchers and practitioners have been followed to review the planning processes for construction projects by examining the involved parties, their roles, functions of planning, and the causes of failure. The paper aims at setting a drive for fundamental changes rather than suggesting solutions for problems. Avenues such as observation, review, and major deficiencies were covered in the study and answers to questions such as what, why, and how to plan were answered using normative state of deficiency, and diagnostic approach.
Planning provides answers to the questions such as what, how, who, and when regarding activities, methods, resources, and sequence respectively. Planning for corporate management includes: a) predicting future environment, b) setting up goals, and c) determining means to accomplish these goals. Planning is a multi-stage, multi-level process and the owners along with the top management are involved in setting up the project goals. Middle management is involved in setting up the resources while the lower echelons help in selecting and devising the solutions.
Normatively, planning of methods and decision making must proceed concurrently in a project to make the optimum use of resources and timing. In practice, the primary focus of most construction firms is on planning and scheduling rather than resource allocation and methods statement. The goals of a construction project and the training of the construction planners are the two most dominating reasons for the over-emphasis on scheduling. In most projects, cost and time are given more attention to quality because the cost and time are tangible, demonstrable, and economically measurable, whereas quality is vague and poorly defined. A typical project planner is a civil engineering graduate who has an expertise in carrying out quantitative and scheduling operations and has minimal training in construction methods.
The main purpose of planning is to assist the manager to accomplish his three principal functions that are- 1) Execution: Directing of the parties under the supervision of the construction company to execute the project components. 2) Coordination: Communication between the various parties involved in a construction project is vital for success. 3) Project control: It helps to keep a check on conceptual, administrative, and environmental risks and ensures targets are achieved through periodic evaluations and corrective actions. Additionally, forecasting, constructability planning, and contingency planning also help to maximize the project performance.
In practice, control casts a dominating shadow over all other objectives of a project. Planning and scheduling departments are termed as ‘control groups’. Instead of taking measures to correct variances, the management adjusts the plans to actual performance to remedy the variance. The main cause of the present state is the focus on output measures (i.e. time and cost) and lack of optimization in terms of process measures such as constructability, efficiency, execution, and contingency planning.
The normative process of planning comprises of- planning, information gathering, preparation of the plan, data diffusion, and process evaluation. Preparation of plan in the form of CPM/PERT network gets major attention and rest of the processes are highly ignored due to the skills and attributes of the professionals.
This article demonstrates that the cure for the shortcomings of construction planning is not just limited to technical aspects but are much more fundamental. The major flaws pertain to focus, role, and process orientation which stem from inadequacies of qualification, orientation, and motivation of parties involved. Re-examination of methods, policies, assumptions, and overall philosophy of project management needs to be done so that it covers the scope of the entire project.The
research focuses on the process for the development of the virtual construction
site system (VCS) as a strategic decision support tool for construction project
managers. Three different research projects are considered in the paper, one
focuses on the overall context of construction planning and other two focus on
requirements capture for virtual construction site system. Recent
debates in construction project planning argue that: planning and evaluation of
planning processes are non-existent, overemphasis on critical path methods,
lack of construction experience, poor information gathering methods, and
overly-complex plan information. Laufer and his colleagues find that the
specialist planner has time to do the work but lacks practical knowledge,
whereas the line manager has practical knowledge but does not have time to
carry out the task. The ability to influence cost is greatest in the design
phase and diminishes rapidly over time.Goldratt
advocates the use of critical chain method (CCM) in project planning which
addresses two key problems of CPM – the inherent uncertainty of task duration
and the resourcing of the tasks. Faniran and his colleagues concluded that both
too little planning and too much planning were factors that lead to poor
project performance. This paper aims at contributing to this limited literature
on planning practice in two stages- 1) by exploring the hierarchy of planners
work in a project and 2) by deepening the understanding of contemporary
planning practice with the help of data from form interviews. The
project manager develops the client’s strategic programme, which drives the
tender process for the procurement of the resource bases and the architect’s
design programme. The contractually binding document between the client and
construction manager is the master programme. Target construction programme
guides the procurement of the trade packages, and the parcel documents
programme drives the production of drawings by the architect. The last schedule
is non-contractual but can be used for claims against delays. The contract
restraints programme conveys the WBS to the construction manager.Traditionally,
the preparation of the construction plan takes 4-6 and 3-4 weeks for large and
small contracts respectively. Planners receive a large amount of overwhelming information
that tends to affect their productivity. Planners make up for the uncertainty through
guessing and past job records. Software like Primavera and Power Projects are
used to manage large and small projects respectively. The construction
planning process is carried out in the construct-procure-design format in five
major stages- 1) Identification of the overall site construction programme. 2)
Identification of the overall procurement programme. 3) Identification of
design information delivery dates required for procurement and construction. 4)
Identification of the contractor’s design programme. 5) Identification of the
detailed design data requirement dates from client’s consultants. A
systematic review of project planning is either rare or non-existent. Having
selected the construction method, the professionals disregard the construction
period stated in the tender and work out the time they think is optimum to
carry out the works. In nearly all cases this time tends to be longer than the
stated contract period in the tender documents.
results show that construction planning for principal contractors is more about
negotiation and rapid decision making based on heuristics than detailed
analysis. This paper has focused on the pre-ten-der planning process which
forms the base for negotiation and contractual agreement of the master
programme, and shown that planners work in a complex network of relationships
spreading within and without the contracting organization, they work to
pressing deadlines which preclude detailed analysis, and under significant
levels of uncertainty.