Pull Planning: A New Approach to Project Planning

It Can Be the Tool Used to Find Gaps in Construction Schedules

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Pull planning is a new revolutionary method to work with the project schedule in reverse order. The pull planning schedule works by identifying and isolating project phases, adding detail in reverse order. The backward process will eventually add more detailed than a look ahead schedule when it is worked out in a reverse process when details and scopes are clearly defined and analyzed, The pull planning process is derived from the actual project schedule when steps are analyzed, and details are added based on collaborative input from all responsible managers and superintendents.

How Pull Planning Is Put Together

The pull planning process is normally done using sticky notes. Yes, you read it right: sticky notes. These sticky notes are used to identify essential elements of work, identified backward from the actual project schedule. The sticky notes are usually located over a large whiteboard that has the overall project timescale on top. The time scale is divided by weeks or period, and all major activities are identified and pull together in sequence. The sticky notes will be used to identify areas that can be improved along the project schedule, identifying all tasks, and key players required to complete a task without any delays.

How It Can Be Effective

A pull planning process can be a great tool only when the key players are invited to collaborate in the process. A pull planning meeting needs to have the input of the guys who know the work, the materials needed, and the equipment required to complete the tasks. The actual guys who know how much time the type of challenges needed to complete the work must be there to have an effective pull planning process. Also, to have an effective pull planning your process, all players should be aware of the process and be open to making adjustments to their schedules knowing that all activities are inter-dependent and that the process could affect those activities.

How Pull Planning Works

The pull planning must be completed when all parties attending the process, determine their condition of satisfaction on the job board. Then will determine the differences between what is 100% required and those things that are not required so that those resources can be assigned to more important tasks. Pull planning will eliminate miscommunication and will increase project efficiency, making it easier to meet project milestones. When working with pull planning, every team member must have its own set of colored sticky notes that will be used to identify their part of the plan.

Difference Between CPM and Pull Planning

Pull planning differs from the critical path method schedule because all activities are planned and identified starting at the end. All duration and logic are worked from the end towards the start identifying all resources and tasks that should be completed to get to the final stage. Glenn Ballard and Greg Howell developed the Last Planner® System as part of their research to standardize this approach to scheduling project work. The last people to plan the work (i.e., trade foreman/forewoman) are engaged in the planning and scheduling process to define activities, duration, and hand-offs between trades necessary to accomplish the activity.

In a Nut Shell

The process is simple and here is a short version of the methodology works. Here are a few steps:

  • Identify milestones
  • Identify critical milestones
  • Build CPM and update the schedule
  • Put together a weekly plan
  • Review activities with crew leaders and evaluate what can be modified
  • Update and review activities on a weekly basis to analyze activities duration. Prepare RCA if needed.
  • Update the schedule after reviewing activities and receiving feedback from all crew members and schedulers