In this discussion of Lean Construction Practices, Lean expert Keyan Zandy delves into Commitment Tracking via The Last Planner System’s “Percent Plan Complete“. Keyan stresses the importance of the Percent Plan Complete (PPC) board of the Last Planner System™ as being one of the most important parts of the entire system. Learn why PPC is so important to Lean Construction.
Commitment Tracking via Percent Plan Complete
You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.
Carl Gustav Jung
Sounds easy right? Many of us in the construction industry honor our word. Our reputation means a lot to us, and we take pride in the respect we’ve earned and the trust we’ve spent years building. But have you ever thought about how many commitments you personally make in a day—to yourself, family members, your boss, coworkers, clients, etc.? Small things, like promising to take out the trash or pick up doughnuts for a morning huddle, and larger things like sending in an important RFI, or scheduling the lab for a concrete pour.
If you were to keep track of how many promises you make in any given week, how many would it be? 50? 100? 150? You may be surprised. You also may be surprised by your score in successfully keeping those promises.
This is construction, so I assume you are busy. My one-week challenge to you is to write down every commitment you make, and then score yourself at the end of the week. If you promised to have a dumpster pulled by the end of day Monday so demo could continue Tuesday and you got it done, give yourself 100%. If you promised your safety director that you would have your project JHAs turned in by Tuesday and you didn’t send it until Thursday, give yourself a 0—because even though you did complete the commitment, you didn’t do it when you said you would, and that matters.
Once you go through this exercise, look at the commitments you missed and ask yourself why you didn’t deliver; this is your “root cause.” Write down the root causes that caused you to miss on the promises you made, and then reflect on what you learn. If you have the discipline to do this, then we think you’re ready to implement Percent Plan Complete on your jobsite.
Here’s a simple way to ease into the process—but if you are ready to dive in fully, check out The Lean Builder for The Playbook.
Before your Monday daily huddle, have your trades write the activities they intend to complete that week on a whiteboard. As a field leader, you should be asking the following questions:
- Are all the activities workable?
- Will all trades understand what is required?
- Will all trades understand what is needed from others?
- Are activities achievable within the planned period?
If the answer is no to any of these questions, collaborate with the trade partner and determine if they need to revise what has been written. When the board has been completely and correctly populated, you will be ready for Monday’s daily huddle.
Every day at the huddle, ask each last planner to read what activities they are working on and state what current manpower they have for implementing it. Have them show the team on the visual communication board.
On Fridays, the last planners reveal to the team if they met their commitments or not for that week.
On Friday’s huddle, ask each last planner if the work they committed to is complete. If the answer is yes, write a Y next to the activity; if the answer is no, then an N goes next to the activity. When grading the Weekly Work Plan to establish the PPC score, remember the answer is either yes or no; there is no gray area. Everyone needs to be honest with the team as to why a commitment was not met in order to clearly identify the root cause. Once you understand the root cause, you can then begin to effectively correct the variation.
Make Percent Plan Complete visual
The benefit of making a visual Percent Plan Complete board is that it serves as a tool to help everyone to be on the same page at the daily huddle. Read this blog post on scorekeeping to understand why. You can build your Percent Plan Complete board with the following categories:
- Activities Completed
- Activities Promised
- Weekly Team Percentage
- Root Cause Categories
- Root Causes for Work Missed
- Twelve-Week Snapshot
The Percent Plan Complete board can be printed on plotter paper or drawn onto a whiteboard; either way, it should be displayed where you have your daily huddles.
Some predetermined root causes for missed commitments we use are:
- poor scheduling; and
Filling out & Implementing the Percent Plan Complete board
After Friday’s huddle, tally up the number of activities completed and divide by the number of the activities promised. This will yield a percentage of commitments met.
Remember: The Percent Plan Complete score is not a reflection of production. It is the score of how well the team is making commitments to one another.
This is an important lesson that will take some longer than others to learn.
Monitor the entire team’s score rather than the individual trade partner’s scores. Perfection—100%—is not the goal, because a high score is not necessarily good news. If your team’s score is consistently in the mid to high ninetieth percentile, the team is not challenging itself to an acceptable level.
Knowing the weekly percentage of commitments that the team has made is a great metric, but understanding the reasons—the root causes—for the missed commitments is more important.
Having the last planners take accountability and discuss the root cause for missing a commitment can be tough at first. Typically, there is a lot of noise around things not getting completed in the field, but with the Last Planner System™ and Percent Plan Complete, there is nowhere to hide. And this is where creating a culture of supportive teamwork on your jobsite helps. When people do not feel like they will be shamed or embarrassed for admitting a failure, they are more likely to be honest with their team.
It’s one thing to identify the root cause during your root cause analysis, but it is another to do something about it. After the Friday huddle is over, follow up on every missed commitment with an email, phone call, or both. For example, if work is delayed because a submittal wasn’t returned and now material is missing, then the root cause is design. A follow up would be a call to the design team along with an email to try to resolve the issue.
The Percent Plan Complete (PPC) portion of the Last Planner System™ is often overlooked by many project teams who think of the Last Planner System™ as an à la carte menu—selecting a little pull planning here and a little look-ahead planning there. However, the Last Planner System™ is not designed in this manner. It is a holistic system, and Percent Plan Complete happens to be one of the most important parts of the Last Planner System™, as it is the learning opportunity, the chance to get better as a team and shore up the commitments to be more reliable. Start slow and small, and in no time you will see a lot more accountability around commitments on your jobsite.
By: Keyan Zandy, COO