With the Pull Planning method, a construction project is planned by proceeding backward in defining the various steps. Discover what the three key elements are.
In the realm of construction and building, planning plays a crucial role in the success of a project in terms of costs, timelines, and customer satisfaction. An increasingly utilized methodology for improving efficiency and activity management is the “Pull Planning” method. In this article, we will delve into what Pull Planning method is, how it works, and how it can be successfully implemented in construction projects.
What is Pull Planning in the construction sector?
In the construction sector, Pull Planning, literally meaning “planning to pull,” represents a specific approach to project planning that works “backward.” It starts from the assumed completion date of the project and proceeds backward in defining the fundamental steps of the construction process.
The purpose of Pull Planning is to produce exactly what the customer requires, both quantitatively and qualitatively, minimizing waste as much as possible. The “pull” planning technique falls under the principles of Lean Construction, which includes waste elimination as one of its six key principles.
The distinctive features of Pull Planning include:
- strong collaboration;
- backward timeline.
These two characteristics are closely connected. Proceeding backward in defining the timeline highlights the tight connection between one stage and the next. Emphasizing how the completion of one step affects the next, highlighting the responsibilities of various stakeholders, encourages collaboration and cooperation.
What are the key steps of Pull Planning?
The Pull Planning process consists of simple and methodical steps aimed at increasing collaboration and reducing waste. Let’s explore what they are:
- identification of project goals and milestones:
the first step of this planning approach involves identifying project goals and milestones. Unlike traditional planning processes, Pull Planning starts by identifying the last step of the project and proceeds backward in defining the other fundamental stages;
- formation of a multidisciplinary team:
collaboration is a fundamental feature of Pull Planning, which is why the project team will be highly multidisciplinary. The team includes all stakeholders and professionals involved in the project. This allows analyzing various phases from multiple perspectives and proceeding with detailed and interconnected planning;
- collaborative meetings:
once the multidisciplinary team is formed, it gathers in collaborative meetings that are the heart of this approach. It is here that all stakeholders come together to define:
- project stages and respective durations;
- roles and responsibilities;
- timeline and dependencies between various project activities.
This is the phase where team members actively engage in meetings, expressing themselves with the colored notes mentioned earlier.
- development of the work plan:
once all notes from professionals and stakeholders in the project team are collected, the project manager is responsible for converting them into a digital timeline that will be the future dynamic and collaborative reference for all team members.
What are the three key elements of Pull Planning?
The key elements of Pull Planning are closely interconnected to produce efficient and effective planning, and they are:
- Last Planner System® (LPS): The Last Planner System® – whose full name is Last Planner® System of Production Control – is a holistic system characterizing Lean processes, excellent for coordinating and optimizing project organization. It is based on the use of pre-established conceptual maps. In this system, a key figure is the Last Planner, the professional most involved in the project with the authority and responsibility to make decisions regarding project planning;
- Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): The WBS is a tool used for the analytical breakdown of a project into elementary parts. The purpose is to organize work into more manageable and understandable elements. Through the WBS, it becomes easier to establish the project’s final goal, various activities, and their relationships;
- Critical Path Method (CPM): the Critical Path Method or CPM (Critical Path Method) is a planning technique that identifies the subset of project activities critical to meeting deadlines.
How does Pull Planning increase efficiency and productivity?
Planning is an essential activity to ensure completion of a project on time and within the budget. Pull Planning, in particular, can be a useful ally in increasing productivity thanks to:
- collaboration: Pull Planning encourages the project team to collaborate and share, enhancing communication, reinforcing the concept of a common goal, and consequently increasing productivity;
- transparency: communication is open and transparent, ensuring everyone understands their role and responsibilities, as well as the connections with activities managed by the rest of the team;
- optimization: through Pull Planning, team members learn to reduce errors and optimize actions and activities;
- efficiency: with this planning approach, there are greater chances of meeting predefined project timelines and reducing waste. Team members have clear goals and responsibilities, a precise timeline, and transparent communication that simplifies the process.
Pull planning in construction: From paper to digital
An essential feature of the Pull Planning method is its visual nature, namely the use of adhesive notes with a precise color code. The use of notes and their respective color code is a simple and effective way to view the project timeline, provide feedback, and work collaboratively on and with it.
Today, digital tools like construction management software provide a valid alternative to paper notes and are based on the same collaborative and cooperative principle. By using this tool, you can experience numerous advantages, including:
- centralization of information: with digital tasks, all project-related information is centralized in one place. Paper adhesive notes can be easily lost or damaged, while digital tasks are securely stored and easily accessible to all team members;
- ease of sharing: digital tasks can be instantly shared with all team members, regardless of their location. This ensures that everyone has access to the most up-to-date information;
- traceability and history: with the digital method, it is possible to track changes made to tasks over time. This allows a historical review of activities and a better understanding of how the project has progressed;
- notifications and reminders: it is possible to set notifications and reminders for task deadlines. This helps ensure that no task is forgotten or neglected;
- real-time updates: digital tasks can be updated in real-time to reflect any changes in activities or priorities. This ensures that all team members are always informed about the project’s status.
The transition to digital Pull Planning significantly improves the overall efficiency of planning and task execution. Tasks can be assigned, completed, and monitored more quickly and efficiently than paper adhesive notes.
Efficiency, information centralization, transparency, and waste reduction are just some of the reasons why more and more construction industry companies are embracing this digital transformation. If you want to enhance the management of your construction projects, use construction management software. This way, you have full control over the project with dynamic and customizable planning cards, ensuring deadlines are met and satisfying customers and team members.