How to Organize a Smarter Planning Session

by BREWTON CROUCH, Touchplan

This article was originally published to the Touchplan blog on February 23, 2016. 

Good planning is a fundamental tool of a successful construction project. Michael has has already written a great article about smarter planning and collaboration. If you haven’t yet, you should definitely look it over. Successful project managers get their project teams to talk and trust each other to act in the best interest of the project. This collaborative planning relies on the expertise of the people directly responsible for doing the work. It allows for a project plan with the best available alternatives.

Today we are going to look at how to organize the planning session as well as suggestions for what your resulting plan should include.

First let’s look at some ideas for structuring the planning session to make sure you are getting all of the necessary information from your folks.

Tips for a successful planning session

  • Invite the right people – You want the crew leads in the room. These are the trade contractors doing and overseeing the work onsite. Your session will not be effective if you are not talking to the folks with the boots on the ground knowledge of getting the work done!
  • Identify the scope of the work – Make sure everyone knows what work is to be completed during this phase of construction. Let the whole crew know the work going on during that phase. In preparation, be sure everyone knows their individual requirements within the scope. It is important to set the right scope for each phase of the project. Don’t make your project phases too big.
  • Keep the crews engaged – If anyone is not contributing to the discussion, you will have gaps in your plan. Structure the meeting such that everyone present is empowered to answer the necessary questions.
  • Be a facilitator, not a scheduler – Smarter planning works because all the trade contractors collaborate to create the best and most efficient plan possible. Your job is to move along the collaboration without taking over and running the meeting. You should facilitate an effective conversation and not dominate the discussion.

Once you have created the space for a fruitful planning session, it is time to make sure you create an action plan that is the most effective.

Tips for the Plan

  • Be specific – Your plan should identify exactly what work each individual will produce and for whom. It should be very clear when handoffs will happen between crews.
  • The flow should be smooth – The handoffs between the crews should happen seamlessly. Your worksite should be a ‘parade of trades’ where crews perform work at the last appropriate moment and the next group is ready to start as soon as it is possible.
  • Steady crew sizes – Avoid the inefficiencies of an understaffed job site as well as the dangers of a crowded one.
  • Identify – Account for all major constraints to work being planned.

Keep these things in mind the next time you plan. You’ll experience the joy of a smoother work planning meeting, and you’ll end up with more accurate project plan.