Last edited 12 Aug 2016

Last Planner System


[edit] Introduction

The Last Planner System (LPS) is a collaborative planning process that involves trade foremen or design team leaders (the last planners) in planning in greater and greater detail as the time for the work to be done gets closer. In the UK it is sometimes known as Collaborative Planning and, in the USA, sometimes called Pull Planning.

LPS was created to enable more reliable and predictable production in projects. It also:

  • supports the flow of work through the project
  • builds trust and collaboration with a project team
  • delivers safer projects faster.

LPS brings together those who will execute the work (the team) to plan when and how work will be done through a series of conversational processes. It requires the team to collaboratively remove constraints as a team and to promise delivery of each task. These systematic processes increase the chances that work flows reliably, and recognises that personal relationships and peer pressure are critical to that process.

LPS is a planning, monitoring and control system that follows lean construction principles. It was developed by Glenn Ballard and Greg Howell who later founded the Lean Construction Institute at the behest of a number of constructors who had benefited from their use of LPS.

[edit] Five key processes

Each process (or conversation) within the system brings its own benefits. When all are working together they reinforce each other and the overall benefits are greater. The processes are:

  1. Collaborative Programming [1] - Creating and agreeing the production sequence (and compressing it if required) and agreeing the key hand-overs from one trade or design team to the next.
  2. Make Ready [2] - Making tasks in the Look Ahead period ready (i.e. constraint free) so that they can be done when the team want to do them.
  3. Production Planning - Collaboratively agreeing production tasks for the next period (e.g. shift, day or week) – this is often referred to as Weekly Work Planning (WWP).
  4. Production Management - Collaboratively monitoring production to keep activities on track, generally on a daily basis.
  5. Measurement, learning and continual improvement - Learning and improving project, planning and production processes so as to improve the flow and the rate of flow of the work.

LPS levels of detail time diagram for DBwiki.png

Figure 1: In the Last Planner System the level of plan detail increases as the day for the work to be done approaches (source: Mossman 2015 with permission)

[edit] Measurement & learning

The Last Planner System has a number of measures:

The metrics are calculated for the project as a whole. The reason for using these metrics is to learn. If the metrics are used for any other purpose than as an aid to learning and improvement their value as a learning aid diminishes as those involved start to 'game the system'.

When tasks are not completed as promised the 5Why process can be used to find the root cause of the late or early delivery and then countermeasures developed to reduce the chances that the problem will happen again. In this way learning this week is built into operations next week.

[edit] Last Planner principles

  • All plans are forecasts; all forecasts are wrong.
  • The longer the forecast, the more wrong it gets.
  • The more detailed the forecast, the wronger it is (first formulated by Ballard ca. 1991).

The implication of these principles are that it is important to (Ballard et al 2009):

In addition, it is important to:

  • Measure promises kept (see above) and improve by learning from early, late or incomplete deliveries and workflow disruptions.
  • Improve workflow as a team based on what has been learned.

[edit] Find out more

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

[edit] External references

[1] sometimes called pull scheduling, pull planning, reverse phase scheduling, collaborative planning, collaborative mapping, sticky-note planning

[2] sometimes called LookAhead planning [all plans look ahead!]