Production Control Best Practice #7: Look-Ahead Plans

On most projects execution planning happens on a very high level of detail in subcontractor meetings and is documented in Excel spreadsheets or even on whiteboards.  These spreadsheets become the main production control method on site.  Unfortunately, much too often, these weekly plans do not match any schedule and can use completely different location names and task names.  Subcontractors tend to follow these weekly plans and ignore the higher level LBMS (or CPM) plans.


Ideally LBMS goes to a “Phase Scheduling” level of detail.  Adding all the individual assignments to the LBMS schedule is not a good idea because it would hide the big picture and result in a huge additional administrative workload.  Weekly workplans are a valuable tool to get to this level.  However, they must be connected to the master plan or otherwise it can be said that there is no master plan that is being followed. We recommend that each weekly workplan item should be related to an LBMS task and location.


For example, an LBMS forecast for the week (after control actions) could have 2,000 sf/day of drywall framing on floor 1, zone B.  The total production target for the week is 10,000 sf.  Weekly workplans should go to the detailed level of selecting the individual walls which are ready or can be made ready to be framed next week. The total of walls selected for framing should be close to 10,000 sf to achieve the master plan forecast. Weekly workplans can also include less significant items which may not be included in the schedule such as detailed scheduling of deliveries, any minor rework, or punchlist items, or crane pick scheduling.


Production Controller has a look-ahead report which can be the starting point of weekly planning.  The report shows for each task what should be accomplished over the next week, next month, or any other time period. The forecast should be used as the starting point of the weekly planning after it has been adjusted with any control actions.  In look-ahead planning, each task in the look-ahead horizon (typically 3-6 weeks) should be exploded to smaller assignments which are then made ready before they can show up on weekly plans.  This way weekly planning and LBMS schedule work together to achieve the same goal: minimum project duration with maximum productivity for all parties. 


look ahead report as the starting point for weekly planning 

Figure 1: Look-ahead report as a starting point for weekly planning


For more best practices with Production Controller and LBMS, please review the other articles in this series:

Part 1: Beyond Start Dates

Part 2: Get the Subs Involved

Part 3: Manpower and Suspensions

Part 4: Control Actions

Part 5: Planning the LBS

Part 6: Clarifying Scope


Also consider working through the Video Training Series for Production Control.  The videos contain helpful tips and tricks, as well as a complete overview for using production control techniques on the jobsite.


And since look-ahead planning with the subs is very collaborative and social, please read more recommendations in the whitepaper, The Combination of Last Planner System and Location-Based Management System.

Tags: lbms, construction schedule forecasts, look-ahead reports, production control, weekly construction site planning