The Growing Appeal of
AI-Driven Scheduling Software
February 24, 2022
If you were to choose one type of technology that would make the biggest difference in your business operations and success, what would that be? If you’re like the majority of the owners and contractors in the Americas who responded to the InEight Global Capital Projects Outlook survey in 2021, the answer is artificial intelligence (AI). Outranking even project management software and data analytics, 47% of owners and 63% of contractors report that they are persuaded by AI’s potential to make the most business-critical impact on their success over the next couple of years.
AI is already making a difference in the construction industry, being used to enhance jobsite safety, manufacture prefabricated components, and monitor site progress through the use of drones and robots, for example. There’s one area in particular where AI is delivering measurable outcomes throughout the project life cycle, and that is scheduling. Construction companies are catching on. Why is this happening now?
Easily handles today’s increasingly complex capital projects
All projects — infrastructure projects included — now come with more technology incorporated into them, more regulations to meet, heightened safety measures and more dollars to track. And with each project comes all its data; thousands of tasks, hundreds of drawings, details for every single material resource, performance metrics, and so on. What would normally take months for schedulers to come up with a workable plan and timeline for can now be done in mere moments with scheduling software powered by AI.
It all starts with data. All the details from your project portfolio are housed in a data repository. So, for instance, with each new project you begin, the software will scan everything in the repository to detect whether you’ve done a similar project. If you have, it will suggest the prior project’s schedule as the basis for the current project. So rather than going back to the drawing board to create a new timeline, the AI-driven scheduling software will deliver details on what it actually took to build that prior structure — labor, materials, equipment, costs and time. It’s effectively shaving days if not weeks off the initial schedule creation for large capital projects, while also saving administrative costs and reducing human data entry error.
Achieves higher project certainty with more realistic plans
What makes this AI-enabled software even more attractive to construction companies is that it goes beyond assembling these project plans. It’s also smart enough to detect anomalies and recommend alternatives. Artificial intelligence uses all the data from prior projects to “learn” things such as task similarities, patterns, start-to-finish durations, who has worked on what project, costs and so on, discerning how certain types of structures are typically built.
This enables it to immediately recognize when several activities seem to be in the wrong order, a resource is booked to be in two places at the same time, a task dependency is missing, or not enough time is allotted to certain tasks. As it flags these inconsistencies, it proposes course corrections to consider. Relying on their own expertise and experience, the project team can accept or reject each suggestion. This helps the AI further refine its ability to think and learn as it becomes more proficient at offering more accurate options in the future. What results is a more realistic schedule that the entire team can get behind, and a much higher degree of project certainty.
Risk-adjusts schedules and forecasts for contingency plans
Its ability to identify irregularities isn’t limited to just schedule inconsistencies. AI-driven scheduling software also can just as easily spot and process the impact of risks that affect the project, essentially becoming a risk-adjustment tool.
Consider the project risks factors that can occur, from severe weather to material price hikes to malfunctioning equipment. And don’t forget the ones that until recently might have been less likely to happen, like project materials ordered months ago now stuck at a shipping port. AI can process countless what-if scenarios for each risk factor — taking into account how past performance metrics have responded to those risks — showing what the forecasted impact could be on the schedule as well as costs and scope. It evaluates the options and recommends alternative plans for what will ultimately inform your contingency plan for each risk.
Based on AI’s outputs, decisions made by the project team now become more data-driven. And again, those accepted or rejected suggestions become part of the algorithm that AI will then use for similar scenarios down the road. This input-output cycle results in not just a realistic schedule, but an automatically risk-adjusted one.
AI-driven scheduling software gives you a competitive advantage
As a relatively new way of approaching scheduling and planning, AI is gaining interest among construction companies that want an edge in the capital project space. With evidence of its ability to deliver data-driven schedule realism, automatic schedule adjustments and increased project predictability, it can make a difference for those companies as early as the bidding process.
InEight can deliver this AI-driven scheduling capability to help you more effectively plan and manage your capital projects for more successful outcomes. Set up a demo to learn how we can help deliver better plans more efficiently.