What is construction planning? Types and steps to complete

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 15 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Construction planning is a particular and challenging aspect of building structures. It outlines the construction's foundation and project guidelines to ensure its success. Construction project managers master the planning process to keep the project's deadlines and budget on track. If you manage construction projects or are looking to become a project manager, learning about construction planning is a crucial aspect of the role. In this article, we discuss what construction planning is, the different types of construction planning, how to become a planner and how to create an effective construction plan.

What is construction planning?

Construction planning is a process that ensures the success of a construction project by outlining the necessary steps to execute and manage it. The construction plan considers all aspects of a project, such as the budget, design and building process. Project managers may also delegate tasks to team members or plan out the construction schedule to ensure that the project doesn't go past the deadline. Having a detailed and comprehensive construction plan helps boost team productivity and communication as they understand what to work on and what the deadline is.

Related: Project management skills and how to improve them

Types of construction planning

There are many different aspects to construction planning, all of which come with specific responsibilities and factors to consider. Here are the four most common types of construction planning and the duties they include:

Strategic planning

Strategic planning involves sorting out the details of a project, such as its budget, schedule and deadline. The project manager, corporate planners and client all collaborate in the strategic planning phase to create the foundation and guideline of the project. After consulting with the client and corporate planners, a construction project manager can begin to outline the project's goals and create the master plan with more specific guidelines and deliverables for the team.

Related: How to write an action plan to help you achieve your goals

Operational planning

The operational planning phase is where the project manager consults with their team members after the client approves the strategic plan. During this phase, the team discuss important questions about the project's deadline, goals and resources and analyse whether the project requires any adjustments. After internal approval from the group, the project manager can begin to prepare specific documents and deliverables for the team to follow. The project manager also gives these documents to the client to keep track of the project.

Business planning

Construction project managers complete a business plan in the early stages of a construction plan. The most important aspect of the business plan is construction bidding, also known as the bid and contract. The business plan allows stakeholders or investors to see the profit or loss of a project and other metrics, such as return on investment (ROI), so they can decide whether to bid on the contract or not.

Resource planning

The resource planning stage of a construction plan is where the project manager outlines all the necessary resources they need for a construction project. Resources may include labour, raw materials and equipment. Without a proper resource plan, a project manager may hire too many team members or purchase too much or too little materials, which creates a disorganised project that is off-budget. Having a comprehensive resource plan when pitching to clients or creating a master plan is crucial to the success of a project.

How to become a construction planner

If you're interested in entering the field of construction planning, here are a few steps to help you:

1. Complete a bachelor's degree

Enrolling in a construction management or project management bachelor's degree is an effective way of establishing your interest in the industry. Completing a university degree can give you important insights into construction planning that may be useful when you start work. Enrolling in a bachelor's degree may also give you valuable connections to develop your professional network, as your course may introduce you to university-specific events or allow you to take part in industry gatherings.

2. Gain relevant work experience

Internships and entry-level positions are crucial for building a CV that's useful when applying for jobs as a construction planner. Project or construction management is a senior position that requires significant work experience in the construction industry, so you may need many years working as a planning assistant or trainee. Acquiring work experience early in your professional career is an excellent way to build up first-hand knowledge that may be useful for when you get a job in a more senior role.

3. Gain certification

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is a helpful organisation that provides you with the necessary resources and training to acquire project and construction planning certification. You may also need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to enter and work on construction sites, as there are many regulations and safety protocols required when working in the construction industry.

5 steps of construction planning

Here are five easy to understand steps you can follow when creating a construction plan:

1. Identify key aspects of the project

The first step to construction planning is creating documents that detail all key resources and aspects of the project. This document is called a Project Initiation Document (PID) and includes information such as the number of members required to work on the project, necessary materials and equipment and the budget needed to ensure the completion of the project. The project manager gives this document to critical stakeholders and clients to discuss the parameters and goals of the project to ensure everyone agrees with the project and understands it.

2. Create an actionable and specific plan

Once the project manager has approval for the project, he uses the PID to create an initial plan. This initial plan goes over key activities and requirements, team structure, deadlines and responsibilities. To help create an actionable plan, you can create SMART goals. These are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based, which you can use to identify certain aspects of the project, such as:

  • Specific: Ensure that each goal and deliverable in the construction plan is clear and actionable. If a goal is vague, then it is open to interpretation by the team members, who may misunderstand the project's guidelines.

  • Measurable: Create goals that have measurable metrics and units of progress. This way, the project manager can keep track of the project's progress and the need for any adjustments.

  • Achievable: Keep goals realistic and achievable. Otherwise, it may harm the plan as there is no way to complete unrealistic goals.

  • Relevant: Consider how each goal can lead to the project's overall success. Delegate specific tasks and responsibilities to the appropriate department or group to keep the project under control.

  • Time-based: Provide a clear timeline for each goal to measure the project's progress. Having a deadline for each goal can provide motivation and direction to team members.

Related: How to develop SMART goals

3. Carry out the plan

Once the project manager creates an actionable plan, the team can begin executing the goals and deliverables outlined in it. During this process, project managers go over the construction schedule, delegate tasks to relevant team members and revise the guidelines and regulations for the project. Communication is a crucial aspect of the execution phase as team members can discuss relevant information with the project manager to ensure that the project goes smoothly.

4. Track progress

Project managers use key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the progress of a project and measure if everything is going as planned. These KPIs revolve around the goals and steps outlined in the plan and use data to evaluate the progress of a project. Project managers can track KPIs, such as project objectives, performance and quality. KPIs typically have to do with hard data and numbers, such as budget, timelines and materials usage.

Related: What KPI stands for and how you can use it in your career

5. Evaluate the project

Once the team completes the construction of a project, the project manager then analyses and evaluates the process from start to finish to determine if there could be any improvements in the process. Project managers use the evaluation period to go over the SMART goals and initial planning process and determine if everything went according to plan. During this stage, the team can gather to discuss the entire project and learn from it for the future.

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