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Capital Project Solutions – August 2012 The Power of Pull Planning

Ray Walker, Vice President Today





challenged to do more with less.



Health systems are

managing tighter margins thus forcing leadership teams to look for more resourceful and innovative ways to manage their capital dollars. Inevitably this emphasis has trickled down to the design and construction industry. Healthcare administrators are forcing their project delivery partners (program managers, architect and construction managers) to deliver capital projects in a more economical and efficient manner. Given the recent environment, it is no wonder that we are seeing more articles, webinars and presentations on “Lean” - Healthcare Construction - It's the process. How Lean Strategies Can Streamline Hospital Design; Integrated Lean Project Delivery Flips the Design Process; 7 Best Qualities of Healthcare's Lean Leaders; Webinar: Lean Construction from a Specialty Contractors’ Perspective. But just what is it that all of these “Lean” concepts are trying to deliver? In short, they are attempting to reduce waste - in terms of material, time, or effort - which can drive up the cost of construction or lengthen the duration of a capital project.

How to Implement a “Lean” Processes The first and possibly most important step when implementing a Lean process is for the integrated project team to produce a realistic schedule. Traditionally, teams would discuss the activities necessary in order to start a project and then progress in a sequential manner until they 1

Capital Project Solutions – August 2012 finally land on a completion date. This scheduling process is driven by start dates for individual tasks which “push” the schedule to its ultimate completion.

Unfortunately, task

based plans often break down which can lead to micromanagement. But keep in mind, these break-downs are seldom a result of poor management but more likely the result of skipping tasks or underestimating the resources or time it takes to complete the task. What is Pull Planning? By contrast, Pull Planning offers a dramatically different approach. Using a Pull Planning process to create a schedule starts with the end in mind. Instead of focusing on the tasks, it focuses in the desired results. A project delivery team will begin by determining when they want to move into the new building and then working backwards, they







necessary to achieve the desired outcome. In essence, the scheduled activities are being “pulled” by the completion date in lieu of being “pushed” by the start date. The Pull Planning Process In order to develop a schedule utilizing Pull Planning, the following must be met: 1. Pre-Work a. Ensure the proper people attend the meetings b. Establish clear goals for success that include everyone involved c. Establish appropriate milestones 2. Facilitate the Conversation a. Get everyone engaged b. Secure commitments from all sides when “promises” are made c. Eliminate ambiguity: clarity = quality 2

Capital Project Solutions – August 2012 d. Gain consensus on the best strategy e. Discuss all possible contingency strategies early on and eliminate them 3. Follow-Up a. Document all commitments b. Monitor effort and deliverables to ensure redundancy is eliminated 4. Measure and Evaluate a. Identify reasons milestones are missed – put corrective measures in action b. Identify unplanned tasks c. Measure percentages completed


Capital Project Solutions – August 2012 Tools of Pull Planning Pull Planning employs a three-level hierarchy of schedules. These schedules look similar to others commonly used in the industry. Each schedule contains only the degree of detail appropriate for the length of time it represents. The three types of schedules are: 1. Master Schedule a. Set high level milestones b. Set schedule strategy c. Identify long lead items or activities 2. Phase Schedule a. An intermediate level of planning b. Identifies major work activities that must be completed to meet the milestone dates established in the Master Schedule 3. Near Term Schedule a. An “assignment� level schedule or action log b. All pre-requisite work is completed thus eliminating all constraints on the assignments c. Assignments are made by the manager most heavily involved with the task Conclusion While Pull Planning does not require industry professionals to gain new knowledge of how to complete tasks, it does require rethinking how to plan and schedule for them. It is no longer acceptable to simply blow the whistle and begin working, moving from one activity to the next. In order to be successful, a project delivery team should map their work effort beginning with the end in mind. The process must be efficient and ensure that tasks are completed when required in order to reduce waste and eliminate redundancy. 4

Capital Project Solutions – August 2012 For more information on The Power of Pull Scheduling & Planning along with other Capital Facility topics, visit KLMK’s Educational Insights.