Pull Planning: How Lean Construction Practices Can Improve Project Efficiency
What is Pull Planning?
Pull planning is a lean construction practice in which every key stakeholder on a project collaboratively starts with the end goal and works backward milestone by milestone toward the start date. Pull planning is different from any other lean construction technique because it works backward and requires a high degree of collaboration that is unique from any other method. By utilizing all key players in the construction project, everyone’s expertise is meshed together into one cohesive group, working to identify potential problems and cut down on unnecessary time spent.
Pull planning is usually visualized using a hand-written timeline and color-coded sticky notes denoting each specific task. These sticky notes then start to fill up the timeline, allowing all stakeholders to visualize the order and dependencies of tasks and identify possible overlap that may cause delays. This pull planning process is important to the project team to manage workflow and planning sessions to accomplish a project milestone.
How does pull planning improve project efficiency?
Pull planning allows for every stakeholder’s expertise to be melded together into one cohesive team working together toward a common goal. This method forces all stakeholders to communicate with one another and work together prior to the project’s onset.
Pull planning allows stakeholders to identify potential roadblocks that could appear down the road. By identifying these roadblocks early, steps can be taken to avoid them, thus cutting down time. Pull planning reduces waste, redundancy, and wait times. Schedule trimming allows for project management to go more smoothly.
As a project manager, continuous improvement is a job essential. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of this technique is that participants learn something after completing a project, and don’t repeat the same mistakes, causing each project to be even more efficient.
Allows everyone to see the big picture
Allowing every stakeholder to see how their specific job will contribute to the ultimate goal of the project plan fosters a sense of teamwork and meaning to each stakeholder’s specific job.
Some potential problems with pull planning include:
— Getting the right representative from each stakeholder group: You want the person who is knowledgeable and is going to be responsible for implementation.
— Getting people to work in a team environment: Many of the stakeholders involved in this pull planning for the first time may feel uncomfortable participating in a collaborative environment if they are not used to doing so.
— There is a lot of information provided in a pull-planning meeting: For some, this may be overwhelming and actually cause them to lose sight of the scope of the project.
What is the solution to these possible issues?
— Set realistic expectations about the project schedule, including the project delivery date and other design and other project details.
— Encourage open collaboration and ideas.
— Consult with the people who are in charge of implementation.
— Do your homework when choosing people to participate in this pull planning process.
— Give all stakeholders enough time to prepare.
— Clearly communicate each stakeholder’s role in the project and identify clear benchmarks.
The ultimate goal of pull planning is to create an environment of “we” instead of “me” and “I”. This mentality will create a cooperative and efficient team who can work together to identify and solve potential problems.