Webinar 1: What does a Lean Construction Project Delivery System look like? with Mr. Paul Ebbs

Webinar Title: “What does a Lean Construction Project Delivery System look like?”
Speaker: Paul Ebbs
Organisation: Nottingham Trent University
Date: June 2016

What does a Lean Construction Project Delivery System look like with Mr. Paul Ebbs

Wednesday 28th of June 2016, 15:00 – 16:00 GMT– 16:00 GMT

Paul Ebbs has 20 years’ experience in the construction industry in various roles at trade, project management, and consultancy levels. He has a 1st Class BSc. (Honours) in Construction Management from Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland. His Master Degree focused on Lean Project Delivery Theory and Practice in Ireland.  He is an editor and contributor to the Lean Construction Blog. At present he is a Research Fellow and Knowledge Development Associate for The Centre for Lean Projects at Nottingham Trent University. He is currently working with Professor Christine Pasquire and a company in the UK nuclear sector to develop a Lean Project Delivery System to improve the schedule performance of projects. The Last Planner® System is a part of this new project delivery system. Paul was a co-founder of LCI Ireland in 2014, and was on the Core Group until March 2015. He spent ten months in 2015 working with and learning from David Umstot and Dan Fauchier from Umstot Project and Facility Solutions and The ReAlignment Group of California, two of the leading Lean Project Delivery coaching and consultancy firms in the Western United States, helping teams deliver better projects, performance and results.

Lean Project Delivery

What does a Lean Project Delivery System look like?

How does Lean Project Delivery differ from traditional practice?

What are the Key Success Factors?

Paul brings his experience of lean theory and practice from his experiences coaching teams on Lean Project Delivery in Western United States and the UK. Topics covered included the importance of systems thinking and project first thinking, aligning project teams to project goals, creating a shared lean mind-set, and a brief overview of some key lean tools used by teams. Paul also shared lots more from his broad experience on projects from both his project management and his lean coaching experiences

There were some questions that we could not answer during the webinar, so Paul Ebbs has kindly agreed to answer them offline, and we have provided the answers here:

Question 1 from Greg M:

Paul, to what degree is lean becoming embedded in Irish construction? For example, will lean construction principles be used in the development of the new Irish national children’s hospital?

Greg, I will answer your first question and bear in mind I have not lived at home for 18 months. Over the last two or three years I have seen some pockets of excellence for lean in Ireland pop-up and lots of larger companies using lean tools. Many of these companies and organisations have presented at previous LCI events and they range from large Owners, Designers and Contractors. From what I can gather from industry colleagues is that there is definitely huge appetite for lean at present but I would also say we have a long way to go (and I would also say that about California and it is really starting to take off there).

I also believe that at this moment in time a huge opportunity exists for industry wide change and transformation. We are a small nation and work with a relatively small labour pool (designers/contractors etc). Getting better as an industry (training together) can expedite lean becoming the business strategy for more and more companies which will in turn increase our capacity to win FDI and expand the GNP contribution of the industry. I caution using the word “implementing” because this implies that it is always known what to do. The truth is that there is lots of inventing and adapting required along the way to “True North”. Lean is a lifelong journey (of learning and improving) and must be the operational and business strategy for a company – not a bolt-on package.

Re: your second question: I cannot intelligently comment on this really as I have been out of the country so long now. One would hope that they would be looking at a lean approach. However, I will say that depending on what designer/contractor is being appointed they may already be using lean as their own business strategies so this will automatically be incorporated into the project. What I noticed is that once people start to see the benefit of thinking and working in a lean way, they don’t want to go back…

Question 2 from Greg M:

Are there any (construction) lean assessment tools for projects to benchmark, to provoke thinking about the practices, thinking they employ?

Greg, I believe benchmarking for lean construction must be done internally against yourself. To measure progress you must know where you are so benchmarking metrics on SHEQ, rework, how long documents are on peoples desk, % of time people spend in meetings etc. etc. People should benchmark items that they choose and are relative to their job so they have autonomy in their quest for mastery (the want to get better).

So, for lean assessment look at the soft “invisible” side. This is the toughest to measure but it is what underpins a successful Lean Project Delevery System. Look at Claus Nesensohn’s Lean Construction Maturity Model. http://www.iglc.net/Papers/Details/1166

There are also other maturity and measurement models like Shingo and Halmat (Highways England) that you can search for but the shift is to measure soft skills, attitudes and behaviours rather than hard metrics.

Question 3 from Patrick K:

Can you give an example of a last planner delivered project and the benefits that were identified from its use? Was it budget objectives, time, standards improvement or a combination of these?

Hi Patrick, I have seen the Last Planner(R) System used on many different types of projects. One was a high-school renovation project that could only take 8 weeks. The main contractor seen so much value in the process that they paid overtime premium so the trade partners (where they needed to increase resources to meet milestones) could work out of sequence to benefit the schedule. The project finished on time and the contractor has won lots more work with school districts in San Diego. I did not know about budget performance (I will ask them) but I did receive a message from one of the project managers from that project recently. She said:

“… I am working on another project now but still for the same District. This newer project is a two story classroom building right in the middle of an existing school campus. The tools we learned during the pull planning sessions with you have been instrumental in keeping the multiple primes in line. Not sure how we ever survived using JUST CPM scheduling!! :)”

For more benefits please see a factsheet at this link. They are well document in IGLC papers http://www.umstotsolutions.com/presentations/the-benefits-of-using-the-last-planner-system/

By having a more reliable schedule and high PPC (Percentage of Promise Completed) contractors benefit through improved productivity which returns better profits through less waste and rework. Industry average PPC is 54%. Typical Last Planner teams have PPC in high 80%. PPC really is the measure of how well the team is working and it is not a metric to be used as a stick or on individuals. Higher PPC can also be used as a measure for quality because the work being handed off is 100% complete and defect free. Otherwise it does not get handed off.

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