What is pull planning?
The rules of construction are quite different from the rules at other jobs, because some of the work that is done is oftentimes dependent on another job being finished first. That is where the pull planning technique comes into play, because it is an effective method that ensures that everything gets completed on schedule.
Effective pull planning begins with an experienced person leading the way as they hold a meeting and create the workflow of the pull planning using a simple format that may include sticky notes. Of course, there are other items involved including three rules that assist in the process immensely.
The three rules that are consistently used in pull planning include the words pull, collaborate, and commit. Together, they create the system of pull planning and will allow you to consistently be on time with all your future projects.
Pull is the first rule, and this is the major portion of the entire technique. It consists of completing the work that is needed by the customer. However, the customer in this scenario is going to be the drywaller, the painter, the electrician, the plumber, or whoever else has a job to do at the construction site.
Essentially, you will be working backwards from the end of the project and determining what order everything needs to be completed in. This will allow the work to be completed at the correct time, instead of weeks too early, where the subcontractor is getting in the way of others, or too late, which will put the entire project in jeopardy of being late.
It takes skill and knowledge to know who to pull when, which is why an experienced person is often in charge of this technique, so it is done properly. An excellent example is having an electrician and plumber do their rough ins before the drywaller begins to sand and finish their work. Of course, the drywaller needs to complete their work before the painter can begin theirs, and it just continues on from there.
Pull planning will seem quite awkward and unusual at first, especially if there is some free time where another subcontractor can be working on their part of the job, but if you follow this rule, you will find that everything goes much more smoothly, and the result is just what you want.
The second rule is collaborating, and it is necessary, so that everyone understands what needs to be accomplished. Since everyone will be able to add their input at any time, the entire group will have an understanding of what steps need to be taken next.
While everyone in the room can place their notes into the pull planning schedule, not everyone will understand what the note means. For example, a note with install cabinets could mean many different things. However, when the cabinet installer tells the group about it, they will quickly learn whether or not the cabinets are being installed in the kitchen, bathroom, basement, or another room.
This will allow everyone to know which areas are off-limits to other workers for the duration of the cabinet installation, so that no one else is trying to do a different job and getting in the way. The group can then also let the cabinet person know if they need to delay the installation process for a day or two, due to work that is still being completed in that area.
Commitment is the third rule in pull planning and it is the most important rule of the three. This rule ensures that no one ever moves another person’s note, thinking that it is less important than the one that they want to go first.
Obviously, everyone is going to want to get their work finished first, but that will never happen in construction. Instead, everyone needs to follow the guidelines that are in place, so that no work needs to be redone as the project progresses.
Moving notes is also another way that can and will significantly delay the timeline of the project. Instead, everyone will find that working together, moving their own notes, and discussing which job needs to be completed before the rest and why is a much better option that will improve the progress of the entire project.
Not everyone is a fan of pull planning the first couple of times that they use it, especially if they do not do it the correct way. However, if you use these three rules, you will find that pull planning is worth the time that you put into it, especially if you are able to finalize your projects on time or even early on occasion.
If you have never used pull planning for your projects, we encourage you to talk to others in the industry to see if they can share their experiences and knowledge with you. You will find that it is easier to incorporate into your current and future projects than you think, and the results will make you wonder why you waited so long.