Last Planner System

4 Helpful hints before you Pull Plan

Pull planning tips from Lean Construction expert and co-author of The Lean Builder book, Keyan Zandy offers 4 helpful hints to use BEFORE you pull plan.


I’ve had plenty of bad pull plan experiences over the years. Pull plans that lasted for hour and hours, pull plans that had critical trades missing, pull plans where we ran out of pull plan sticky notes. The list goes on and on. But even through all that, team members gained value from the process, and so did I. Through the lessons we have learned, below is a list of pull planning tips on what you can do before you pull plan to make sure your pull has a better chance of running smoothly.

Pull Planning Tips

Decide on the milestone to pull

Do not be overly ambitious. Plan for 12 to 16-weeks maximum with your plan. Longer than that and the pull plan meeting for teams unfamiliar with the process can be overwhelming. Long pull plans have the tendency to frustrate trade partners and can lead to teams not feeling like much value was added.

Decide on a facilitator

If possible, choose a facilitator that is neutral to the project. This can allow for better collaboration. If the project superintendent facilitates the pull plan, be sure that he or she does not try to dictate activities, as this can lead to trade partners feeling pressured to make commitments that are unattainable. The facilitator’s role is crucial to the success of the pull plan, and a good facilitator will be able to lead the team, ask good questions, and keep everyone on track.

Select who should attend

When you have selected the date for your pull plan, be mindful of who is invited. Last planners (the people that make assignments to direct the work, i.e. foremen/ superintendents) are required. If trade partner project managers are making commitments at the pull plan in lieu of the last planner installing the work, there is a chance that durations will be incorrect. However, trade partner project managers are encouraged to attend, especially if they have a better understanding of the status of material fabrication and delivery. From the general contractor’s side, be sure that superintendents and project management staff are invited and attend.

Pre-Pull Planning

It is advised for the general contractor to do a pre-pull plan meeting before conducting the official pull plan with all the trade partners in attendance. This allows the superintendent and project management teams to discuss expectations, identify predicted work durations, and share their thoughts around the direction of workflow and phasing.

Note: the direction of the pull plan can deviate from the pre-pull, and that’s okay. It is just important to have thought through the phasing and scheduling as a team prior to the meeting; that is the purpose of the pre-pull.

By pre-pulling the project, the general contractor can develop a “cheat sheet” that allows them to monitor key durations during the pull plan and challenge the team when needed to ensure float is not being built into any activities.

The last step in doing an internal pre-pull plan is developing a template that can be emailed to trade partners, along with the construction documents/BIM models, that clearly articulates:

– Date, time, and purpose of the pull plan;
– Expectations around who should attend and what each person will contribute;
– Preliminary thoughts around work phasing and flow; and
– Desired level of detail that should be described for each activity

By: Keyan Zandy, COO
Skiles Group

For more from Keyan, see The Lean Builder – A Builder’s Guide to Applying Lean Tools in the Field or Connect with Keyan on LinkedIn.

Keyan Zandy, Skiles Group Keyan Zandy is a longtime Lean practitioner, enthusiast, and advocate. As Skiles Group’s COO, he has a dual focus on client service and on nurturing a progressive company culture. He is ultimately responsible for the oversight of the firm’s daily operations and ensuring that their Lean processes are continuously improved and consistently practiced. He is the co-author of The Lean Builder: A Builder’s Guide to Applying Lean Tools in the Field, which simplifies and clearly articulates the benefits of seven primary Lean concepts, and delivers them in a highly-relatable, immediately-applicable, and field-friendly manner. Keyan also serves as CEO for Smart Safety, an award-winning crisis management communication and emergency response tool.

1 Comment(s)

  1. Steve Long

    Excellent and practical best practices. The pre-pull is particularly helpful.

    March 3, 2020 at 7:02 pm | Reply

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