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Factors to Consider When Drawing Your Project Timeline


No two projects are the same; however, the following statement should be true for every projected timeline:

Mission: Achieve balance among competing priorities for successful project management and execution by the set deadline and under the predetermined budget.

With this mission in mind, here are some factors to critically think about when drawing up your project timeline.


Before Construction

Size, Scope & Complexity 

With the most influential variables in every project being size, scope, and complexity, the issues for construction management to juggle are always cost and schedule. Finding an experienced general contractor (GC) with a strong track record of balancing this “project management triangle,” or the triple constraints, is your best defense against delays and costly oversights. 

A simple tip to determine whether a GC is a good fit for you is to request a sample statement of qualifications of a similar project recently completed to get an idea of how detail-oriented the team will be. 

Bottom Line: The more comprehensive the plans, the more confident you’ll be when scheduling to minimize the chance of budgeting issues.


Contingency Plan

Even after carefully reviewing your master schedule and identifying potential disruptions, a worst-case scenario question to address ahead of time should be: What is our plan B? As a measure of risk management, you should have a proper contingency plan in place to account for any unforeseen conditions such as late deliveries and mechanical failures of major equipment. It’s common for the contingency allotment to be 5%-10% of the total budget. 

Bottom Line: Crafting contingency plans that can easily be executed will go a long way in mitigating and resolving problems before they get out of control.


Approvals and Permits 

Securing the permits and approvals can end up eating up a larger portion of your time than you’d like, so it is imperative this is started early. With a good economy, municipalities are still lagging behind for review with an overload of new project leading to understaffed and longer unplanned timelines. 

The more you educate yourself on permit processes such as access, utilities, drainage and signage, the better prepared you’ll be for unexpected challenges. The starting point for navigating through these rough patches this would be to get in touch with planning and zoning officials to cover any potential remediation steps.

Bottom Line: You can only anticipate issues you’re aware of, so gain a solid understanding of the local requirements and restrictions to adequately address the approvals stage and site specifics.


During Construction

Construction Setbacks

When estimating the duration of the project, keep in mind that setbacks may be inevitable because there are risks of uncertainty you can’t always predict. Some examples of setbacks may be labor and material cost overruns, loss of use, and lawsuits. 

Missed milestones and lagging completion dates due to a slowed-down crew and material availability will have a domino effect throughout more business operations than just the project construction. It’s important to partner with a developer that goes the extra mile early on rather than only when roadblocks are encountered.  

On this note, the site specifics also come into play, which may include the availability of contractors and materials as well as access to the site. In the event the ingress/egress is limited, for example, the delivery of equipment, materials, and labor will need to be accounted for. 

Bottom Line: Construction companies can help combat rework and reduce delays by utilizing a quality control method. Doing your part to carefully coordinate the work of the crews to ensure zero overlaps during the proper phase will also increase overall productivity.



During the inspections stage, the defined scope of the project should be prominent so it will provide certainty that everything proceeds safely how it should or reveals any red flags detected. To best prevent the timeline from expanding, two types of inspections would be beneficial: scheduled and random. The advantages outweigh any inconvenience by ensuring proper safety planning, hazard identification, stronger task focus, and improved quality. 

Bottom Line: Inspections are vital in exposing any violations or mismanagement during the completion of a project, so it should be accurately gauged in the schedule.


Plan Changes

Even after you have factored in complexity, setbacks and permits, delays can still form any time a client, contractor, or municipality requests a change. Depending on its nature and degree, new plans, permits, and inspections may need to be added and will ultimately push back your completion date and add to your cost.

Bottom Line: To avoid a threat to the later stages, establish a change order process and communicate this to the team so details will be worked out ahead of time.


Contingencies and Delays

In the event that the aforementioned contingency plan needs to be carried out and delays will strike, the funds can be pulled from a reserve that’s intentionally not connected to any one area of work. Although contingencies will be tailored to each project, some examples of alternate solutions could include quickly mobilizing replacement cranes, making repairs, or locating parts needed.    

Bottom Line: To lessen the chance of delays, don’t overlook the contingency money that has been set aside to serve as an “insurance” against other costs.  


*Bonus Tip!*

Before finalizing your timeline, don’t forget to consider the time of year and weather obstacles for that particular location and plan an appropriate alternative to framing or foundation work during a rainy season, for instance. 

While drawing your development schedule will vary from project to project, considering these top factors in order to be more strategic in decreasing downtime and aware of all the moving parts will produce the most ideal results.

Project Timelines Best Practices Tenant

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