For today’s blog, I’m going to share eight steps to build a pull plan. An essential activity for successful Lean and Takt construction projects, the setup is critical for a successful project. We’ll go over my recommendation on how to prepare, create, and bring the pull plan together.
How to Build a Pull Plan
For those of you more visually inclined, please download the PDF format with additional illustrations of the process.
ESTABLISH CONDITIONS OF SATISFACTION (CoS)
To get everyone on the same page about the expectations for the pull plan, we can do the following:
Prepare the Team:
You can prepare the team by communicating these key things:
- The date, time, and location of the pull plan session (and send via a calendar invite as well).
- The milestone you will pull to and the general conditions of satisfaction for the pull plan.
- The expectations for preparation like researching drawings, preparing stickys, or thinking through a homework sheet.
Some contractors like to have the trades pre-fill-out worksheets to make the meeting more efficient.
Gather the Team:
In this step you will gather the participants, do a safety briefing to start, and introduce them to the following:
- Where the pull plan will take place.
- Where the supplies are.
- The conditions of satisfaction for the pull plan.
- Preparation that is needed for the pull plan to go well.
- An overview of how the pull plan will be run. BUILD A PULL PLAN
Provide Preparation Time:
Once the participants have been gathered, oriented, and informed, it is a good recommendation to give them 15-30 minutes to finish all preparations and get fully back into context for the meeting.
Establish the List of Conditions:
Once everyone has had time, you will introduce the conditions of satisfaction again, even if you already have. You will explain what the purpose of the meeting is, what the team will do, and the milestone you will pull to. It is recommended that you describe things like how detailed you want to be, the key items you want included, and what success will look like.
Conditions of Satisfaction (CoS):
Here’s a quick example of a solid CoS approach:
- MILESTONE- Ready for sheetrock
- HIGH LEVEL- sequence only
- START DATE- after re-shore removal on the floor
- Validate the milestone duration
- Check the sequence and time allotted for inspections
DESCRIBE THE START AND END MILESTONES
This step brings the team clarity as the team creates their tags or stickys. Here is that same example from our CoS carried forward:
Start: re-shores removed from floor
- Concrete done
- Re-shores out
- Floor swept
- Grid lines refreshed and cleared
End: ready for sheetrock
- Inspections done
- Only on level 2
- Not complete with elevators
- Ready to install drywall
COMMUNICATE THE STICKY FORMAT
In this step, you will explain how the tag or sticky is formatted in terms of the content you will include on each sticky.
Imagine dividing your sticky note into distinct sections/grids for each content type, such as:
- Worker Count (WC) – top right
- Duration (DUR) – top left
- Activity Description – middle
- Needs (or predecessors for the Activity) – bottom
SELECT STICKY COLORS
Pull plans are visual in nature, so it’s ideal to use select different colors for the stickys each trade uses. This enables the project team to quickly see at-a-glance the work of each trade.
You’ll want at least six different color sticky pads to cover the typical trades. For example:
- Orange – framing and backing
- Pink – electrical
- Blue- plumbing
- Green – mechanical piping
- Yellow – HVAC
- Purple – insulation
ESTABLISH THE RULES
Everyone in your pull plan will have a different perspective on how a pull plan should run and what the rules are. The best way to diffuse a hard situation is to just get on the same page and decide on the rules together.
Pull Plan Guidelines:
Here are some sample rules that I’ve found helpful.
- Only one person speaks at a time
- No touching other people’s stickys
- Follow the process:
- Start with the last activity
- That person describes their activity
- That person explains what they need
- That person asks for other trades or disciplines to add stickys that meet the needs
- When needs are met, that person may back away or sit down
- If you have a roadblock or milestone, turn your sticky diagonally
- Talk person to person
- Make commitments
- Truly collaborate and listen
- Have the right people in the room – the people doing the work who can make the commitments
- Once the pull is done, do a forward pass to identify concurrent activities and optimize the sequence
RUN THE PULL PLAN MEETING
Once you have buy-in for the rules, you can begin your pull plan with these steps:
- The facilitator invites the company with the last activity in the sequence to place their sticky note on the board. He or she will announce the activity, the duration, the worker count, and ask for what he or she needs.
- The contractor with the activity that satisfies that need puts his or her sticky on the board and the first contractor will put a “check” in the box next to it. Then the next need is asked for. In this way, the sequence will move backward and satisfy all needs for every task. When the sequence needs are all satisfied, the pull plan is complete.
CHECK THE SEQUENCE WITH A FORWARD PASS
Once you have exhausted the sequence you can run it forward with the trades. It’s time to see if there is any way to gain on time and run activities parallel.
Maybe for some steps previous tasks/relationships do not need to be finished to start the next task. If you find opportunities, move those tasks to be parallel when possible.
BRING THE PULL PLAN INTO THE RIGHT FORMAT
When the pull plan is finished you can pull it into your CPM schedule, create Takt sequences, or leave it in its current format for trades to follow. Be sure to communicate the results of the Takt plan to all trades so they know the plan.
The key here is to not only analyze the workflow within the pull plan sequence but also analyze it from zone to zone to ensure you have trade flow. Once you have your sequence for the macro or the pull plan in the norm level, you will stack the packaged sequence on top of each other and make sure the trades can flow from one zone to another in one process flow.
- Make sure the work is bought out properly as crews.
- Adjust labor counts in crews to level work.
- Adjust the sequence if needed to get flow.
- Add workable backlog between gaps as necessary.
- Pair activities with other crews if needed.
- If you cannot get good trade flow, then at least be honest and buy it out that way.
With these eight steps, your pull plan is set up for success. If you’d like to keep these steps handy offline, please download the companion PDF.
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