How to Schedule Backwards Using Construction Pull Planning Method
How to Schedule Backwards Using Construction Pull Planning Method

How to Schedule Backwards Using Construction Pull Planning Method


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Efficient scheduling and planning are essential to a construction project’s success. There are various ways to plan a project, some of which are more effective than others. Nowadays, the pull planning method has been growing in popularity in managing construction due to its ability to increase collaboration and reduce downtime.

If you are in the construction industry for some time, I’m sure that you have heard the Critical Path Method (CPM) for building the timeline of your projects, or maybe have incorporated it in your preconstruction process as well. Fundamentally, it is one of the most widely used and traditional planning techniques used in construction. A project needs to be scheduled, and the CPM method does make sense theoretically at the beginning of many projects. However, in practice, it’s not always the best construction scheduling option to go for. This is generally because its concept revolves around one deciding body to schedule for the whole team. Even for the most experienced professionals in the industry, it’s challenging to be the primary stakeholder designating all the project schedules–and often, it doesn’t provide the expected results.

But an alternative planning method is gaining popularity in the construction industry; pull planning. The current rising substitute to CPM has been yielding solid and undeniable results for many construction projects.

While pull planning can help your ongoing projects run smoother, it can take groundwork to lay out in the beginning. 

We dive into a thorough study of the pull planning concept in today’s blog and provide you with a simple step-by-step guide to starting with it on your next project.

What is Construction Pull Planning Method?


Pull planning is a collaborative way to a construction project schedule that takes a reverse approach to sequence activities or tasks. This contains gathering team members to define and isolate key project milestones. Once this is done, the team works backward to add all requirements and details. You can think of it as reverse-engineering the project.

What Does “Pull” Mean?


“Pull” schedule is focused on the end goal and determining each predecessor task in the proper sequence of events. This helps define any trade or work handoffs from the back end, allowing every team member to know when and what needs to be done to keep the project rolling. This can only work when all team members understand every detail of the project phase or milestone requires, resulting in a more fluid construction schedule.

What Does a Pull Planning Collaboration Looks Like?


The process begins at the project’s completion date, and the network of activities is then planned backward until reaching the start date. Once this is achieved, time for performance will be added to each of these tasks with no contingencies or float time factored in. After which, the general project will be evaluated to ensure that all tasks or activities are logically related to each other and put into a sequence that is the most efficient for the team. Moreover, contingencies and float time are then included in the most “high-risk” or uncertain activities in the schedule.

How Does Pull Planning Method Improve a Construction Team’s Productivity?


Pull Planning enhances your productivity in the following ways:

1. Collaboration 

The backward scheduling method encourages the whole team to work together, which generally helps the project work as an entire construction crew management with improved communication and less competing interests.

2. Transparency

In pull planning sessions, there is open communication, so every team member understands their roles and how they will do it and what is tasks and responsibilities of the rest of the team.

3. Optimization

 By using pull planning as a component of project management for construction, team members learn to confront their mistakes and optimize their work habits practices.

4. Efficiency

Projects stay on schedule as team members have established clear goals and steps to follow throughout the process, with crystal clear communication and responsibility streamlining the operations.

Interested in streamlining your construction operations? Check out our article about 4 Construction Workflows You Can Fine-Tune Today (And Why You Need To).

 What Are The Advantages of Pull Planning?


Ultimately, the most significant advantage is the increased collaboration among all the project stakeholders. The entire construction team is encouraged to communicate with each other. It is now common knowledge that communication is lacking in the n industry, so this forces everyone to talk from day one up until the project’s completion date.

By involving everyone in the initial planning process, they can coordinate on how to execute the desired project end goal best. This can foster team accountability and mentality by identifying how each task contributes to the project as a whole, which reduces the costs associated with change orders and end reworks caused by miscommunications and other related mistakes.

How does pull planning make project management work simpler and smarter?

Another benefit of pull scheduling is the resulting efficiency and cut down waste. By collaborating with the specialty trades and close-out subcontractors, risks can be diminished, and potential obstacles can be identified and avoided early on in the preconstruction phase. This reduces any extended timeline and works redundancies, allowing construction teams to start and finish their work as expected. The schedule can quickly define what portions of the work should be done and when. This eliminates loss in productivity due to wasted time or trade stacking. 

Pull planning works as a popular scheduling tool for the Last Planner System (LPS), which is based on a collaborative approach to managing construction projects. In LPS, the “last planners” completes the work in the preconstruction or planning stage of the project. This way, LPS makes it easier to identify the problems and helps the project run smoothly, and track milestones from end to finish.

Planning in this way is most commonly paired in tandem with the lean construction method, which looks for ways to cut down on wasted time and budget by finding ways to be more productive.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Backward Planning


Typically, pull planning is created using conventional sticky notes you can find in any school supplies store. While this method may seem old-fashioned and seem simple as best, construction tools are emerging to help manage the project digitally and even remotely. In theory, though, the visuals presented by sticky notes help your team see every detail of the overall project and allow you to adjust the tasks accordingly to create the most effective plan with the most efficient timeline possible. Furthermore, there’s much more to pull planning than sticky pieces of paper, and the planning process should be carried out in a specific way to be successful.

Here are the guidelines to get pull planning up and ready for your next project:

1. Involve the whole team

First, get your construction team members on board for the pull planning method. Make sure every stakeholder in the project is involved in the plan. Each member should contribute relevant milestones toward the completion of the project.

2. Track the milestones

Once you have established the project milestones, determine the phase/stage plan, with the order and activities of each task, to fit the given milestones.

3. Set the schedule

Incorporate the activities determined in the phase/stage plan into your project schedule.

4. Determine durations

Identify the duration of each activity.

5. Build weekly plans

Go over the phase/stage plan and break it down into realistic weekly work plans.

6. Set daily pre-work meetings

To ensure the success of the pull planning method, collaboration needs to be carried through the project duration. Daily meetings at the start of each workday with foremen to go over the activities set for the day will be essential to keep tasks on track.

7. Organize weekly meetings

Moreover, hold meetings each week with foremen to review the activities for the wee and make adjustments accordingly.

8. Update the plan

Based on the decisions in the weekly meetings, adjust the overall schedule.

Key Takeaway

Ultimately, pull planning aims to reduce wasted resources, such as time and money, while also streamlining work. What’s more, when the pull planning method is used, payment and claims disputes take place less frequently.

Every construction company would benefit from a world with fewer delays, delays, or disputes, and this scenario isn’t as far out of reach as some industry professionals might think. However, pull planning will only be successful with a high level of team collaboration and coordination from the jump.

Pull planning is a practical construction tool that has the potential to be a gamechanger in the industry’s production process. It provides an excellent alternative to the Critical Path Method to improve construction project efficiency, helping keep it on the right track and cut down unnecessary waste. Using pull planning with reliable construction scheduling software such as Pro Crew Schedule will help teams reap the technique’s benefits at its full potential.

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