Thinking about using technology to step up your project planning? Many contractors have amplified the benefits of a Lean or Last Planner® approach through the use of digital tools. Here’s a rundown of how your projects will change, and tips to set you up for success from industry expert Hal Macomber.
“The first thing that you need to be successful in both analog and digital settings is someone who knows how to use the Last Planner System. Somebody needs to know what they should be doing. What does success look like? You must have somebody who knows what it looks like when it's happening. It's always easier if the team has experience. But one person on the team who is recognized as being knowledgeable is sufficient. Just let that person lead.”
2. Improve Faster
“There are some very practical aspects of why your first weekly work plan needs to be digital. All the calculations are done for you. All statuses can be distributed. You don't have to be chasing people around. They have tablets, they can tell you that they finished or they didn't finish. Right off the bat, you have a far better chance that you're going to get a good report on percent plan complete (PPC). I don't mean that it's going to be high PPC, I mean it's going to be an accurate reporting of what happened, and that you're in a position to share that promptly and to improve on that.
If you don't have the data, you can't improve right away. Digital tools immediately give you the data. So from the beginning, you can make data-informed improvements from week two.”
3. Change the Dynamics
“Another key to making the Last Planner System work is to shift the relationships of last planners to each other. We get high PPC and good flow when we have trade partner foremen treating each other as partners, as customers. How does software help this happen? The principal way is in the always-available visual display of the customer-performer relationships in the promise period. Nobody is able to do that when they're analog. But if you start with digital, you get there in week one.”
4. Get Real-Time Data
“The latency in the analog approach makes the data less useful. Even when we get it, we've already gone on to different work. Eliminating that latency makes the data much more valuable. It's much more like driving with a dashboard. What you're looking at on the dashboard is useful while you're driving, as opposed to calculating the miles per gallon of the last 100 miles you've driven. The usefulness of data is dramatically diminished by the latency, and you don't even get the data if you didn't put in the administrative effort. But with digital tools, all that latency goes away. And you get the benefits from that on day one.”