Marku Allison, the director of engagement and strategy at Calgary-based Chados was the presenter at the "Design work planning for more profitability" session at the Lean Construction Institute – Canada conference in Calgary on April 8.
Allison walked the audience through the challenges of adopting lean construction methods to a project his team recently worked on. He said that construction tends to lump things into "done and "not done" categories, but there is more granularity to the process.
Workflow planning began he said, by going off in multiple directions and then honing in on the proper process.
Allison said the planning wall would work on a week by week basis, and on the wall "done/not done" was used as a way to track progress. While tasks were in progress, the percentage of completed tasks was calculated in order to further track work.
Planning in the design room is not as linear as construction, but using lean construction methods it is possible to impose order on the process.
Allison looked into variances to see why work doesn't get done when it is assumed it will occur, and the patterns that emerged were that workers didn't have enough information, or took on too much work, or there were miscommunication. Knowing that, Allison said, his firm could plan in advance and avoid problems preemptively.
Another aspect of the planning wall was a section where non-billable work could be addressed.
Tasks were specific and time-based, and used sticky notes. The methodology was "one task per sticky," Allison said.
Workplace challenges in the design phase include a lack of specificity, a lack of accuracy in time required, and a lack of detail on descriptions.
Allison said time increments, where a chunk of deliverable value tied to a discrete unit of work are the metrics by which planning is accomplished.
There are many last planner systems that are digital, but analog "notes on a wall" are a different way to interact with information than data in a digital format. A full picture view is much more challenging using digital systems, Allison said.