What is a construction look ahead schedule?

A line of hammers in a construction job site

Imagine for a minute you are trying to prepare a meal. If given the list of ingredients to make the meal but not the directions on how to use each ingredient or the order to use the ingredients, it makes it way more difficult to prepare the meal properly. 

Preparing a structure (i.e. building it) is very complex and requires routine planning to ensure that the project is completed as the project plans and project schedule, or 'recipe' called for.

A look ahead schedule, also known as a lookahead schedule, provides a way to plan work in advance and keep all stakeholders informed of upcoming tasks. 

This type of scheduling is especially useful for construction projects where there are multiple contractors working together on one project, as it helps to coordinate their efforts.

In this article we will discuss the five main benefits of using a look ahead schedule, why the three week version is most popular, provide a free 3 week look ahead schedule template as well as how to use Outbuild to connect the contract schedule with your look ahead schedules.

Table of contents

introduction to look ahead schedules

Look ahead schedules are a type of schedule that provides an overview of the upcoming tasks in a construction project. This allows the lead contractor and other trade partners to plan work further in advance, as they can predict what needs to be done next and how long it will take. 

They also help to coordinate the efforts of multiple subcontractors, ensuring that there is no overlap or gaps in work.

Additionally, construction look ahead schedules provide visibility into potential problems and quickly alert stakeholders about any progress issues that need to be addressed. These benefits make them an essential part of successful construction projects. 

Look ahead schedules help teams stay on track and remain organized, so that projects are completed within the necessary timeframe and budget. They can also be used to help identify areas where efficiencies can be gained or costs reduced, both of which result in improved profitability. 

Furthermore, look ahead schedules make it easier to assess any risks associated with a project, helping to ensure that there are no surprises along the way. Finally, they provide stakeholders with an early warning system for any issues that may arise during a project’s duration. 

This allows them to address potential problems before they become unmanageable and reduce costly delays or rework.

5 benefits of look ahead schedules

1. Improved coordination of subcontractors: Look ahead schedules allow the lead contractor to easily coordinate and plan tasks between multiple subcontractors.

2. Increased progress tracking accuracy: These schedules provide an overview of upcoming tasks, enabling stakeholders to quickly identify any potential issues or delays.

3. Increased efficiency: By planning work further in advance, it allows for better equipment and materials management as well as scheduling of workers.

4. Enhanced safety: Look ahead schedules help to ensure that proper safety protocols are followed throughout the project by providing a clear timeline of when things need to be done.

5. Reduced costs: By anticipating problems early on, these schedules can help to reduce project costs due to fewer delays or wastage of resources.

The three week look ahead schedule is the most popular because it provides enough lead time for stakeholders to plan work in advance, while not being too far out that tasks become outdated. 

This ensures that subcontractors are adequately informed of upcoming tasks and can better manage their resources as well.

Additionally, since this type of schedule provides more detailed information than other scheduling methods, the 3 week look ahead construction schedule allows for better coordination between all parties involved. 

Lastly, a three weeks look ahead construction schedule offers flexibility and scalability which can be beneficial if changes need to be made during the course of the project.

3 weeks look ahead template Excel
3 weeks look ahead schedule template Excel

Outbuild construction planning software can be used to easily create look ahead schedules directly from your master schedule.

This means in one software system you can create your master schedule and look ahead schedules and keep them connected together to update progress automatically. Exporting your master schedule and creating look ahead schedules in different systems is slowing down your projects.  

The faster your progress updates and potential roadblocks can be communicated, the faster your decisions can be made to keep the project moving forward. In Outbuild, your master schedule transfers directly into a look ahead schedule module.  

Here, activities can be broken down into more detailed tasks and assigned to responsible teams on the project.

Because of this disconnected process, look ahead schedules have been the bane of the existence of superintendents for many years. 

Wyatt Breum, Lead Superintendent at Catamount Constructors, offers a particularly compelling testimony on Outbuild's effectiveness, highlighting the stark contrast with traditional tools and detailing how transitioning from Excel for look ahead planning to Outbuild has revolutionized both his professional and personal life.

Excel is certainly a powerful tool in and of itself, but it is an absolutely horrible tool for scheduling. Wyat Breum.

Outbuild's practicality shines through its innovative features, notably the Outbuild iPad app (shown below), which empowers project superintendents to effortlessly update progress on-the-go, even while navigating the complexities of the job site.

Outbuild iPad app for look ahead schedules
Outbuild iPad app look ahead schedules

With all of the same core scheduling features asMicrosoft Project or Primavera P6 users are able to quickly visualize their project and see upcoming tasks in the form of Gantt charts or timelines. 

With the Outbuild iPad app you can:

Enhanced Project Management:

Gain a comprehensive overview of your projects right from the home screen. Access project details and effortlessly navigate to the Lookahead view for a detailed timeline of upcoming activities and tasks.

Efficient Lookahead View:

Visualize the future of your projects with the Lookahead view. Plan and coordinate activities, ensuring smooth project execution and proactive scheduling.

Streamlined Task and Workforce Management:

Effectively manage tasks and assign workforce resources with ease. Access daily task lists, track work progress, and ensure efficient utilization of your team.

Comprehensive Task Details:

Access vital task information such as task names, dates, durations, responsible parties, associated companies, and tags. Effortlessly search and filter tasks for quick and convenient access.

Real-Time Progress Tracking:

Stay up to date with the latest project developments by tracking task progress directly from the job site. Ensure accurate reporting and maintain a clear understanding of project status.

Additionally, Outbuild provides features such as automatic task updates based on progress, exportable reports for record keeping, and customizable scheduling templates that make creating these look ahead schedules fast and simple.

If you want to take your look ahead schedule to a whole new level maybe you can be interested to know more about how to optimize your construction pull planning

Look ahead schedules provide numerous benefits for construction projects by allowing stakeholders to plan work further in advance, coordinate multiple subcontractors efficiently, increase visibility into project progress, and reduce costs. These features make look ahead schedules essential for successful construction projects. 

Outbuild’s construction scheduling and planning software makes creating these schedules easy with its intuitive user interface and automated features, ensuring that your project runs as smoothly as possible.

By using Outbuild’s construction planning software to instantly create construction look ahead schedules, you can ensure that all aspects of your project are handled properly from start to finish. 

This will help improve the safety and efficiency of the job, resulting in a better outcome for everyone involved. With look ahead schedules, you can rest assured that your projects will be completed on time and within budget. So don't hesitate - start utilizing look ahead schedules today!

Lee Evans
Lee Evans
Growth at Outbuild
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