Most construction companies use scheduling software tailored for the construction industry. There are several programs out there including Microsoft Project, Oracle Primavera, and other software that allows you to do data entry, link activities, and better manage the project from start to finish.
But these programs are not always the solution. Sometimes people don’t have the money to spend on software (it can get expensive). Other times they don’t need it for a long term – they’re just trying to figure out the short-term objectives of project.
In instances like these when you don’t want to invest in expensive construction software, you can start your construction schedule in Excel. Here’s how.
Starting your construction schedule in Excel
Step one is to prepare your spreadsheet. You want to organize it in terms of the project’s sequencing. For example, you may think of 10 items today but tomorrow you have to add 3 more items. With the spreadsheet, you can insert rows where those new items fall in the project’s sequence.
Then, begin your sequence. There may be 100 or more items on your activity list, some of which can be elaborate, global, or finite. Important items to include in your schedule are procurement, the building permit process, and the loan process if you are closing on a loan. You may choose to include the build in the same spreadsheet or isolate the build in a separate spreadsheet.
For example, start with mobilization, then submit for permit, obtain permit, foundations, erect exterior walls, fabricate roof, install windows, exterior windows, and the list goes on.
For each item, you also want to include the duration for each activity in a separate column.
Once you know the duration of each activity, you can then estimate a basic overall project duration. You do this by summing the entire duration column at the bottom of the spreadsheet for a total duration in calendar days. Excel has a function where you can input your start and end dates. After adding your duration, it then spits out a date of when the job would end.
Considerations when using Excel
Excel has numerous features and functionality, some of which are more advanced. If you want to create relationships between activities, you can use formulas to calculate that, such as if you want to factor in a lag between activities. Some of this will require a stronger understanding of construction processes and critical thinking to understand how activities are dependent on each other.
If your goal, however, is to complete a basic schedule, Excel offers a good foundation and flexibility for making adjustments to the program. But if you want to be as accurate as possible with your construction schedule, then we suggest using software that allows for more elaborate methods.
If you have questions about creating a construction schedule, contact our team at Seacoast Construction.
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