Gantt charts

Gantt chart basics 

When you search for “construction scheduling software”, you will likely end up here on our blog, or at www.builditsystems.com – and you need something that can generate a Gantt chart for construction. 

A Gantt chart is commonly used in construction project management as an easy way of showing tasks/activities as they relate to time (days/weeks). Sometimes referred to as construction timelines, or construction bar charts, Gantt charts help you and others see how a project is tracking. Construction tasks are shown on the left of the page, vertically in sequential order, and the time is expressed in days (or weeks) along the top of the chart, from left to right. Each task is expressed by bars of time… and you can see relationships between tasks - which ones can run concurrently, and which ones need to finish before the other ones start.

Brief history

It’s an unfortunate name really. Hard to pronounce, we are often asked for a ga-nat chart or gnat chart (where the “g” is silent and I picture flies buzzing around a spreadsheet !!). The Gantt chart was the brainchild of Karol Adamiecki, a polish engineer around 1895. Originally named a “harmonogram”, it had limited appeal until an American engineer and management consultant named Henry Gantt created his own version in English around 1910… it quickly gained traction in project management circles (construction, government, education, manufacturing, etc.). And thanks to his last name, “Gantt” chart is what we are stuck with (could be worse).

For decades, Gantt charts were created by hand. Each time a change to the schedule took place, they would have to be redrawn. The process was time consuming, arduous… a real pain. And despite their value, most projects involve managing change. This kept those pink eraser companies humming, and generated a lot of frustration when sub trades didn’t show up, things took longer than expected, and you got a couple feet of snow the day before you were to sheathe the roof trusses.

Gantt chart software

Today, you can create Gantt charts using tools like Microsoft Word or Excel. However, they are the wrong tools for the job. You’ve just replaced the pink eraser for dozens of key presses, back spaces, deletes, copy/pastes... frustration builds, and time is consumed. If this is you, congratulations… relief is spelled B-U-I-L-D-I-T 

Scheduling software makes creating Gantt charts a breeze. Microsoft Project has been around for years, and it tends to be the one that comes up with our future customers that are making the switch from paper based, and whiteboard scheduling. Click here to review the differences between Microsoft Project and BuildIT.

There are several options available to help you create a printed Gantt chart. Heck, we can help you do it. As a matter of fact, many customers who come to BuildIT get a printed Gantt chart (PDF) before they even subscribe to our service. It’s simple really, and we’ll help you do it. But… a printed Gantt chart becomes stale quickly, like, within hours. And if you have staff and sub-contractors relying on a printed schedule that is out of date, that’s when costly errors and delays occur.

BuildIT scheduling "system" vs static Gantt schedule software

Some specialized spreadsheet programs and online Gantt software claim they are the answer to creating Gantt charts for your team. While they may be easier to use than Microsoft Project and cost less, the benefit that sets BuildIT apart from the rest is the ability to collaborate in real time.

BuildIT’s schedule is online, and can be shared with anyone on your team. You make a change to the schedule, your contacts are notified, and they see that schedule in real time, just by clicking a link within their email. When they add a note to a task, you (the BuildIT user and master of the schedule) get that note, date and time stamped by them. Everyone is apprised of changes, and nothing gets missed.

Simple. Automatically configured by BuildIT. Your clients and sub-contractors/vendors do not have to go to someone’s website, find the right place to login, and try to remember a username or password combination – that is a pain, and it’s the big reason the other guys still are dealing with costly screw-ups. BuildIT’s approach is super easy – all you do is create a schedule, assign the contact to one or more tasks, then email that contact a link (by pressing a button) – you don’t even have to write the email – we do it all for you.

Gantt charts are great, and there are times when you want to print to a PDF, and send to a client or contractor. BuildIT is better… for those who want to keep everyone in the loop, and notified of changes. 

Try us on your next Gantt chart. And start scheduling the easy way.

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

BuildIT - a "no necktie" club

When we welcome new customers on board, and say “welcome to the club”, we are definitely not referring to a “necktie club”.

Ties and suits… this is probably not your happy place.  

Years ago, I was a technical representative for Weyerhaeuser, specifically with their engineered wood products division. Part of my responsibilities at the time was to host employees from truss companies and contract lumber yards in Denver, CO, entertaining them, and training them on using the company’s design software. Invariably, we would end up for dinner at the Trail Dust Steak House (now apparently defunct).

The deal at the Trail Dust was this… if you came in wearing a necktie (knowingly, or unknowingly), the staff would come over to your table, blaring horns and yelling, read you the riot act, then cut off your tie just below the knot… and nail it to the wall. There were 1000’s of ties – every wall was filled, but they always found room to nail one more!  

BuildIT customers would have enjoyed this restaurant… and would not have lost any articles of clothing!

When I started with Weyerhaeuser in the early 90’s, there was a dress code. Suit and tie, shiny shoes, white hardhat… and show up on job sites doing inspections on I joist framing, lunch and learns, and basically showing the customer why they were paying a premium for our products. Like the Amway business owners of yesteryear, the idea was first impressions – dress for success, and they’ll take you seriously. Later that decade, we lost the ties and started to dress more like the guys we were trying to help. We ditched the pretense, and became more relatable.

Those days are long behind me.

We here at BuildIT wear what we want, and if you ever get a chance to meet with us, we’ll be wearing jeans and a T-shirt… admittedly more colorful shirts than those grey ones donned by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.

Our customers are generally small to mid-size construction businesses, so that is who we speak to. Most are “cut to the chase”, speak frankly, get-the-problem-solved-pronto kind of guys. They are not impressed by glitz and glamour (let’s face it, they’re after construction scheduling solutions, it’s hard to bling that topic up much!). And they certainly don’t have time to read some of the content that you’ll find on many construction software websites – that stuff is better suited to “hallway warriors”, C-level staff, companies with big multi-story office buildings… which represents a very small percentage of the construction industry.

Contrast that with BuildIT – what you read here is relevant to the majority of you who own, or work for small businesses. As this NAHB article states, over 80% of the residential construction industry in the US is comprised of self-employed independent contractors. And most small home building and specialty trade businesses (with paid employees) have revenues less than $1M. 

I can certainly refer you to other construction software companies and their blogs if you need more than a simple, focused construction scheduling system. If you get charged by terms like “best practices”, “best of breed”, “best in class”, “leveraging your investment in legacy software”, “enabling data migration”, “supporting mobile extensions”, "download our e-book" … well then, fill your boots.

Keep in mind though, your superintendents and sub trades have to use whatever system you choose… and if it’s way beyond them… too may bells and whistles, distractions, and language/terms they don’t use, the implementation will fail. The suits and ties may be happy, but the jeans and work boots field staff will be frustrated. Many large companies that have pulled the trigger on such systems are dropping them en masse for simpler, easily adoptable solutions like BuildIT.

And we’re quite happy to welcome them on board, and get them scheduling the easy way.

As a side note, the Trail Dust Steak House was also famous for its “bull shipper”, a 50-ounce Porterhouse steak…. If you ordered it, and ate the whole thing, you got it for free. Could be their patrons suffered too many heart attacks to keep the doors open. On one occasion, I watched one of my students eat one... he looked like he had never missed a meal, and his face was about as red as the steak... not a pretty sight. 

Lose the necktie, and join the club.

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

Which machine are you gonna feed?

We all vote with our dollars.

It's important that we get value for our dollar. As economists point out, we all want to maximize utility (or satisfaction) from our expenditures. Quite frankly, we want to pay the least amount possible, and get the best bang for our buck.  

When 2 or more products appear to offer the same thing (meet a need, solve a problem), but the prices are all over the map, then what? Choice. And there's lots to choose from.

Let's cut to the chase and focus on why you're reading this - you have a choice of which construction scheduling package to choose. So, which machine are you gonna feed? Who gets your dollars?

There's BuildIT - a niche software laser focused on construction scheduling. With the lowest subscription pricing on the planet (thank to all our secret shoppers out there for that intel !!). And our structure (agility, contracting arrangements, investor partnerships) allows us to invest way more of your dollars back into the product that you use.

And then there are some big players out there who offer scheduling... but it's only a small part of a huge feature set that can leave your head spinning. It's like being thrown into the cockpit of a 747... when all you need is an ultra lite. And when you choose them, consider where your dollars are going.

We continually get compared to a couple players out there. One company with focus on commercial project management software proudly displays a fancy building with dozens of employees, and recently announced they had over 1 million users. OK, could be true, impossible to prove... and are these "users" or "paying customers"? Big difference. Another home builder software company boasts over 25 support staff, and 60+ other employees ! Imagine the payroll. And guess who pays for that!? Complex software requires warm bodies with headsets, engineers and programmers on standby, and a bunch of suits at the C level. All paid for by contractors who may not realize there is a better, far less expensive way to get the job done.

If you've already taken BuildIT for a test drive, you've seen that you can get right to it - create a job, add tasks, and share them with others online. Get a construction schedule printed to PDF within minutes if that is your goal. Or take advantage of real time scheduling, where changes you make are automatically shared with others (with the added bonus of email notification if so desired).

If you're already on the hook with some other package, and you're looking to solve your scheduling challenges AND reduce your monthly/annual costs - then pull the pin, and get started with BuildIT.

Let's recap:

BuildIT

  • focus on construction scheduling
  • sharing schedules in house, and with outside contacts
  • lowest pricing in the construction software space
  • speak directly to one of the owners
  • easy help videos plus phone support 7 days per week
  • your dollars get reinvested into your system
  • customizations available
Big Guys

  • offer the world, scheduling is a small part of 100's of other screens
  • higher pricing, often indexed to the # of jobs you do
  • sold by commissioned sales staff 
  • support staff required if you want to get lift off (check to see if they have any construction experience!)
  • your dollars pay for fancy office space and payroll, executive bonuses
  • not set up to offer you concierge service
Which machine are you gonna feed?

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1