How to Estimate a Polishing Project Timeline
Explore what makes a successful timelines project and why a “best-case scenario” is all any competent contractor will offer.
- A reliable timeline is impossible without contractor/client communication
- All project timelines should be flexible enough to accommodate predictable and unforeseen delays
- Detail every stage of the process for all concerned, including any lags in lead times
- Don’t overpromise and underdeliver
Project timelines are the backbone of every job. They’re also only partially under a contractor’s control – but the good news is that it’s a significant portion. Yes, even the best-laid timelines project can waver. Still, you’ll make the most substantial estimate possible when the polishing process is efficiently designated, segmented by task, and transparently presented to the customer.
Things not under your control lose some of their sting when everyone is on the same page. We’ll discuss those, but let’s start by emphasizing the two fundamental pillars of estimating a project timeline – teamwork and transparency.
A trustworthy timelines project requires teamwork
Any contractor can think up a ballpark timeline based on what the customer wants, the size of the site, material/labor costs, and so on. This number shouldn’t be spoken out loud until more data is gathered, or you’ll paint a shaky picture from the get-go.
Polishing contractors sometimes work alone. Other times, they’re part of a project where different contractors do separate jobs, such as polishing a floor in new construction or on an under-renovation site. Each scenario can affect how a polishing timeline plays out.
The timeline the customer receives should be a product of everyone’s input. This means every professional involved in or around the job, including architects, other construction contractors, etc. The customer’s input is also crucial since they can tell you who will need to be present onsite from their staff (if any), when and where they’ll be, and why.
Mutually tolerable timelines rely on transparency
A contractor’s role has two other facets which are often neglected – educator and expectations manager. Fulfilling these is as much for your sanity as the customer’s comfort!
Which would you rather have: A well-informed customer aware of how long a project can take and forewarned of potential delays, or a constant stream of calls and texts asking, “What’s happening now?” and “When will this be finished?” that only adds more time to the project?
The more customers know, the less likely they are to spam that redial button. Transparency and regular updates provide peace of mind for them and breathing space for you. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be readily available to answer customer queries – it’s not always easy for non-contractors to absorb a job’s details the first time.
Run a tightly communicative and accessible team
How good is the communication with your crew and any subcontractors you may have hired? Has “Who’s in charge around here?” caused timeline project problems in the past? Consider the following if there’s room for improvement:
-Designate a project leader
Reliable estimates are only possible with a chain of command. Appoint the most experienced person to collate scheduling information, draft a timeline, and take charge of everyone else. This is the person other team members report to and ask questions of.
-Try pull planning
Pull planning is an interesting alternative to the traditional critical path method (CPM). It focuses on building team trust through increased communication and collaboration and can be a very effective way to streamline your services and make more reliable performance predictions. Check out our This is Concrete podcast to learn more about it.
-Adopt and share a dynamic scheduling system
The days of a big whiteboard back at the office are over. There are some impressive project management software packages out there that can make it simple for your team to create, follow, and amend a timelines project. That latter feature helps everyone stay current on whether the original estimate stands or has been adjusted. Here are some of the most popular and reviewed programs.
Using a system does more than keep communications clear. It doubles as a readily accessible record of progress that can quickly answer customer questions and keep them up to speed. You may also consider giving the customer access to the same timeline software or system you and your team use.
Practical realities, possible delays, and a positive attitude
Experienced contractors can predict the usual things that might go wrong. Experienced soothsayers can predict everything else. Flexibility is central to success when handing customers a performance schedule, while rigid timelines are bound to be broken.
Make sure your customers aren’t surprised by predictable stuff like material delays, unforeseen overtime (it happens), or how much time must pass before polishing can begin if the slab has been recently poured. Repair work may also be necessary on some slabs ahead of the actual polishing, so be clear on how much time that could add.
You can accommodate unforeseen delays in two ways. Firstly, have a backup plan (spare equipment, replacement subcontractor, ticket to Australia) if possible. Secondly, through proactive process education, earn the customer’s trust from the start. They’ll be far more accommodating of new information if you’re not constantly revealing things piecemeal.
Amid all that healthy pessimism, practicality must be tempered with positivity. Otherwise, the timeline can feel like a list of problems waiting to happen. “Cautiously optimistic realism” is the perfect approach. And maybe free lollipops.
How to estimate a project timeline, in a nutshell
Your takeaway on timelines is simple:
- Encourage collaborative communication
- Designate tasks well
- Use a scheduling system
- Be open and honest about what you can and can’t control
These four steps are your ticket to more reliable timeline estimates. Just, whatever you do, don’t tell them, “It’ll be ready Thursday.”
Stay timely by using our knowledge base
At Concreate, our learning center is packed with podcasts, blogs, and case studies from our in-house professionals and other industry experts sharing actionable insights on many aspects of the concrete industry. We can also help you complete any concrete job except pouring the stuff, so just get in touch to learn more!