Communicating Visually to Simplify Scheduling

November 4, 2021

We’ve got best practices thanks to 57 years in business, but Brasfield & Gorrie doesn’t stop there. We encourage our teams to constantly seek better ways of doing things. Our Lean efforts are no exception.

Traditional methods of viewing the project schedule, look ahead plan, and weekly work plan can be overwhelming, so we developed ways to communicate more effectively using visuals. At the 2021 Lean Construction in the Field conference, Senior Lean Manager Houston Brown explained how we use visual tools to simplify scheduling and communication between our project teams and trade contractors. Read on for his insight into the path we took to streamline our scheduling processes.

A Sticky Situation

Detailed construction project schedule with tasks, dates, and progress indicators simplified through scheduling software.

Last Planner System® is an industry standard that has served us faithfully for years, but the numerous sticky notes present their own challenges. The sticky notes allow us to work with our trade contractors to document and arrange tasks collaboratively. But we found ourselves repeatedly running into the same roadblock: how do we quickly and effectively share the information on each sticky note when they’re stuck to a whiteboard? To answer that question, we began documenting our look ahead plans using P6 Scheduling Software, which provided an organized set of reference documents. The printouts were precise, but the reports weren’t always easy to read.

A Colorful Key Plan

Project management plans and schedules with a color-coded floor map, gantt charts, and visual communication for simplified scheduling.

To resolve that issue, we tested color-coding each work location so upcoming dates for each area of focus were easier to read. This made identifying potential constraints easier, which allowed us to plan around any challenges for the next week’s work. However, this method still relied heavily on text instead of visuals, so we pivoted to our current visual management process—a calendar view.

This bold, highly visible format gives us a six-week look ahead so we can view sequencing information at a glance. It cross-references upcoming dates with each trade contractor’s name, work packages, and locations, and the colors that coordinate with those in the key plan. Our crews can quickly assess exactly which tasks each trade contractor should be performing and where, as well as how the completion of these tasks affects the overall project schedule. This helps our superintendents create solutions when weekly goals are not met and resequence work if tasks are completed early.

Gantt chart simplifying weekly project scheduling, with tasks color-coded by company responsibility and dates spanning Monday through Friday for efficient visual communication.

The calendar isn’t just limited to overviews. Daily breakdowns for each trade contractor provide granular information related to each day’s responsibilities, which can then be added to weekly planning boards. This empowers our superintendents to establish project trends and enables our trade contractors to efficiently assign manpower to daily tasks. The result is reliable completion dates and unity between our crews and our trade contractors, both of which are key in maintaining project schedules.

Brasfield & Gorrie works hard to create a worry-free process for our clients, and that includes using innovative approaches to help our project teams work efficiently and effectively. We continuously refine our processes to uphold our commitment to providing a streamlined, seamless construction experience.