Heuristics in Construction Scheduling

Plenty of industries and areas of study develop and implement heuristics in order to optimize work flow, scheduling, etc. In construction scheduling, we employ the critical path method of scheduling, which is basically a heuristic method to predicting the punctual success of various projects. But, if you do even a very limited amount of reading about heuristics, you’ll notice words like “fallible,” which might make you think… what’s the point then?

The truth is, in any form of planning and especially construction planning, you need a plan. There’s a saying that goes something like: luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity. So, while heuristics may not be completely fail safe, neither is going with the flow and hoping for the best.

Without preparation, problems that arise only add to the massive cluster of convoluted tasks and already occurring problems. In fact, if you think about it, your whole task is already one big problem: you have to build X amount of structures in X amount of time. You really can’t expect the problem to fix itself by throwing in resources in an unorganized way and get results.

With preparation, you have already made sense of the big problem (how to finish the project on time). Then, when other problems arise, you can fit them into an already organized time line of events and resources. You can allocate resources to fix the problem, in some cases, without compromising other areas of the project’s success.

So, while you may be wary of a heuristic’s fallibility, you shouldn’t be. Because, without a heuristic like CPM scheduling, you’ll have no chance of success and with it your chances dramatically increase. Plus, heuristic theories prove themselves in the success of those who implement them!