Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
June 4, 2018
Every year thousands, if not millions, of families go on vacation.
They think about where they want to go ahead of time. They start with a budget and then make arrangements for where they are going to stay, how they are going to get there, what they will bring, and what they will do when they get there. They make lists to make sure nothing is forgotten. They do all of this because they want to get the maximum amount of enjoyment out of their trip. By “all of this”, I mean planning. We would not think about just getting in the car with our family and heading somewhere without planning. On occasion, the stars may align and this type of spontaneous trip works out. But more often than not, this results in a monumental waste of time, money and opportunity.
Yet, this is what happens every day in the construction industry. After award of a project, contractors assemble an operations team, conduct a brief transition meeting to give them the estimate and documents, and direct them to go. Subcontracts are purchased, materials are ordered, schedules are developed, work begins, questions arise, work waits for answers, discrepancies in the documents are discovered, change orders are requested, all as the clock keeps ticking. The result is too often unsatisfying for the project participants and is the reason that 70% of projects are delivered late and over budget. (Lean Construction Institute).
One of the characteristics of a Lean project is intensified planning. Planning starts in preconstruction with a well thought out schedule developed by the project team. In a Lean project, after notice to proceed the team is assembled – team being as many participants as possible, including the owner and architect – to “pull plan” the schedule. Typically, this means focusing on the first major milestone and working backwards to identify all of the activities required to be complete in order to accomplish the milestone. This is best performed by the foremen who are leading the work teams on site. Our recent experience has shown that these men and women truly appreciate the opportunity to have input into the schedule and the accomplishment of the work they will be performing. We have also seen that once people are given the opportunity to work together in a respectful environment, they develop a co-worker mentality and begin to help one another.
Once the pull plan is done, the work activities are identified; the team meets on a weekly basis to develop the Weekly Work Plan. This meeting typically occurs in front of a gridded white board with space for each sub to write its plan for each day of the week. This promotes accountability to the team and conversation among the participants, neither of which are commonplace in construction. As the team develops a weekly meeting rhythm, focusing on the work to be accomplished, the planning becomes more refined and productivity increases.
So, if you want better outcomes on your projects, put the right people in the room to plan the work that must be accomplished.
Article by Joe Massaro, President and CEO of Massaro Construction Group