The Experts in Design-Build-Operate Solutions

An integrated approach to scheduling

The U.S. construction industry has been standardized on critical path method (CPM) for decades. During this time, Primavera (Oracle) and, to a lesser extent, Microsoft Project have become market leaders.  Oracle Primavera P6 has tremendous functionality for planning projects and programs, resource allocation, and cost projections. The software has vast capabilities and can easily support a ten-thousand plus activity schedule. There are features, such as steps, that provide more granular-level tracking of progress on a specific activity. 

The CPM schedule is often referred to as the project “roadmap”. Despite the strengths of P6, day-to -day planning and three-week look-ahead schedules are usually sub-par when they are generated within P6. The quality is not necessarily related to the application, but to the various skill sets of the users. P6 is typically administered by a dedicated planner or someone who has received adequate training on CPM methodology. Surprisingly, many superintendents are not comfortable with P6 and are only able to create simple schedules (often with flawed logic and poor schedule mechanics). 

The need to have the LastPlanner ® schedule the upcoming work is critical. Lean concepts are penetrating all types of projects because the concept is simple—sticky notes and a board—and effective for the near term. This simplicity increases adoption but often does not relate back to the roadmap.  By leveraging an application like Trimble LeanSight, users can import the “roadmap” from P6 and expand the level of detailTrimble LeanSight is simple to use (less than two hours of education) and keeps everyone on the same page. The pull-plan is often referred to as “driving-directions” because it provides step-by-step instructions for the next six to eight weeks. This additional perspective ensures that short-term progress supports the achievement of long term goals.

Last, using Trimble Vico for location-based scheduling (LBS) and flow-line takes a different perspective. CPM is based on logic and the construction sequencing.  Pull-planning is based on what the workers in the field are electing to perform based on hand-offs and commitments. LBS/Flow-Line and Trimble Vico seeks to optimize work by controlling resources. By deferring the start of an activity or increasing/decreasing crew sizes, the planned work can be performed with little to no inefficiencies. LBS/Flow-Line methodology models the pace at which resources move through various locations to ensure that follow-on trades are able to move equally as efficiently.

It would be difficult to argue that any of these methods is wrong. All three methods make sense and provide valuable insight to the planning effort. The order in which the applications listed above are used varies. Frequently, a CPM must be developed early in the project before certain trades are under contract. After the trades are involved, pull-planning can be implemented to detail the next eight weeks. As a result of this planning, the CPM may need to be revised to reflect a new sequence. Additionally, if the project is encountering impacts or resource constraints, LBS/Flow-Line may be implemented to visualize possible solutions.

BuildingPoint Pacific recommends that a combination of scheduling methods be implemented to ensure project success. All of the applications mentioned in this document include standard integrations out of the box. BPP can help you determine which scheduling application(s) will be best for your organization.

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