The Last Planner System: From Pull Planning to Weekly Work Planning

The Last Planner System® (LPS®)

Introduction to the Last Planner System®

In traditional design and construction projects, the level of follow-through on commitments made is unfortunately low. On average, only 54% of work planned for a given week is completed within the allotted schedule. As a result, the vast majority of projects are delivered late and over-budget, stakeholders end up not being satisfied with the end result, and workers suffer injuries on the job.

last planner system in the pdca cycle graphic with overlapping circles

What is the Last Planner System?

The Last Planner System is a system for project production that promotes the creation of a predictable workflow among various parties so that it achieves reliable results. The LPS® allows potential hurdles to be found and addressed before they slow down the flow.

LCI’s Tenets

The primary goal of Lean in design and construction is to deliver maximum value to the customer or stakeholder without all of the waste that traditionally comes with projects. The Lean Construction Institute has identified six core tenets that any Lean enterprise should abide by. Those tenets are:

  1. Respect for People
  2. Removal of Waste
  3. Focus on Process & Flow
  4. Generation of Value
  5. Continuous Improvement
  6. Optimize the Whole

Enhancing Process and Flow

Let’s examine how the Last Planner System helps teams focus on process and flow – although LPS really helps teams align with all six tenets.

The Last Planner System focuses on generating and maintaining flow in work processes by promoting conversations between construction team members so they can identify problems before those issues interrupt the flow of work. This is done through pull planning.

What is Pull-Planning?

Pull planning is a method in which personnel, materials, information, equipment, and the like only arrive at the time and place in which they are needed to maintain the flow of the production process.

Daily Huddles and Weekly Work Planning

Flow can also be enhanced through daily huddles, construction planning meetings that allow team members to regularly meet and set expectations for each day’s work. Daily huddles also help teams complete a higher percentage of the task list outlined in the Weekly Work Plan.

Who is the Last Planner?

The last planner is the person closest to the work with authority to make decisions regarding the schedule and to make reliable commitments to complete the work of their discipline.

Benefits to Using the Last Planner System

The Last Planner System greatly enhances the flow of a project through collaborative planning, which allows workers on the job to plan their work together, rather than by a few in a vacuum and address issues together before they become so onerous that they inhibit the natural flow of work. 

In reality though, LPS enhances all of the six tenets: respect is increased when team members collaborate to solve problems, waste is removed when work is done correctly the first time, flow is enhanced through careful planning, value increases as more time and resources are allocated towards value-adding procedures, continuous improvement occurs when the team learns from each breakdown in a cycle of planning, and the whole is optimized with better outcomes.

Additionally, innovation increases when lookahead planning allows team members to contribute unique countermeasures in real time.

Levels of the Last Planner System (5 Conversations)

The Last Planner System focuses on five conversations around which all planning occurs: should, can, will, did, learn.

  1. Pull-planning establishes what should be done.
  2. Make-ready planning gets the upcoming work in a condition so that it can be done.
  3. Weekly work planning establishes the set of promises from specific people for the work that will be done.
  4. Daily commitment management supports the last planners in staying on track with their promises so that the work did get done.

At least weekly, the last planners take time to learn from their performance.

8 Key Elements of the Last Planner System

There are eight key elements of the Last Planner System which align with the five types of conversations teams have.

1. Milestone Planning

Conduct milestone planning by setting incremental goals that fit within the Master Schedule. (Should)

2. Pull Planning

Specify and plan handoffs within the project structure to determine what steps will “trigger” the next steps in the flow. Well-executed pull planning allows for easier structuring of Weekly Work Plans. (Should)

3. Make-Ready Planning

Ensure the work that is planned will be able to happen by removing constraints ahead of time. (Can)

4. Weekly Work Planning

Make weekly promises and generate specific plans to ensure that the work will get done as promised. This requires complete collaboration between team members to plan. (Will)

5. Constraint Management

Execute roadblock removal by identifying potential disruptions in the flow of the various project phases. (Will)

6. Daily Huddles

Break down the work week into smaller chunks through daily huddles, a management tool that allows team members to stay on track and renew their commitment to the Weekly Work Plan. (Did)

7. Percent Plan Complete

Determine how many of the team’s weekly tasks were completed on time. (Did)

8. Reasons for Variance

Use the data from the project’s completion to identify areas for improvement for the next project (or the next phase of the project). (Learn)

Principles of the Last Planner System

As outlined above, the Last Planner System allows design and construction management teams to plan in a more granular fashion as the team gets closer to the execution of the plan. The goal of LPS is not only to complete more of the weekly schedule’s task list, but to ensure that each week’s work is providing value to the end product.

Try the Last Planner System to discover how your team can enhance the flow of your work and produce plans collaboratively with those who are actually doing the work.

Learn The LPS

The Lean Construction Institute is committed to transforming the design and construction industry by providing Lean educational resources, conducting field research, and facilitating local and national Lean events. Explore the supplementary resources below to further your understanding of The Last Planner System. 

Resources

eLearning Courses
Introduction to the Last Planner System®
This course will allow you to gain in-depth insight to the practical application of the Last Planner® System (LPS) through multimedia, hands-on interactions, diagrams, worksheets, and more. The key achievable goal of this course is to learn how to engage at all five levels of LPS effectively on a day-to-day basis with a team implementing the system.
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Introduction to Lean Project Delivery
Gain insight to Lean Project Delivery (LPD) by understanding how the Lean System connects People, Principles, and Practices to optimize results by shifting both mindset and behaviors. The key achievable goal of this course is to prepare and enable team members with a foundational understanding of Lean approaches for daily use within a project environment.
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Effective Big Room
Gain a foundational understanding of the concept of a Big Room by learning the benefits, purpose, and implementation considerations. Understanding how to improve collaboration and drive transparency within your team. Identifying venue types, set up, and activities that work best for your projects. Learning how to effectively advance work and learning to support the success of future projects.
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Lean In The Design Phase
Gain insight to Lean approaches and tools relative to the design phase of project delivery to optimize team communication, collaboration and results. Understand how a Lean strategy can drive innovative solutions by connecting People, Principles and Practices. The key achievable goal of this course is to prepare and enable team members with a foundational understanding of Lean approaches for daily use within the design phase of a project.
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Last Planner System® In Design
Gain a foundational understanding of implementing Last Planner System® (LPS®) during the design (pre-construction) phases of a project. Identify the essential foundational principles of the five conversations of LPS, gain practical application insight for each, and access key action guidelines.
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Target Value Delivery
Gain an understanding of Target Value Delivery (TVD) by identifying the different phases and components that make up the delivery approach. Discover how the Lean components interact together to improve the process and outcome of the project.
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LCI Publications
Transforming Design and Construction: A Framework for Change

William R. (Bill) Seed, Executive Editor

A diverse set of practitioners collaborated to create the Transforming Design and Construction: A Framework for Change book based on the transformative projects and experiences of their Lean practices. The papers, presented in short chapter format, are intended to encourage discussion, learning and experimentation individually or with a team. Read the first and most popular book in LCI’s Transforming Design and Construction series to gain a high-level understanding of various Lean principles, strategies and methods.
Purchase
Target Value Delivery: Practitioner Guidebook to Implementation

Executive Editors: Kristin Hill, Katherine Copeland and Christian Pikel

Target Value Delivery: Practitioner Guidebook to Implementation was collaboratively written by a team of more than 20 Target Value Delivery (TVD) practitioners to provide current state practical guidance to implementing TVD with a project team. This guidebook portrays TVD as an umbrella over Target Value Production for construction and Target Value Design by taking a broader approach rather than focusing only on the design phase. Read LCI’s second book in the Transforming Design and Construction series to gain practical insight to current practices for implementing Target Value Delivery on any project.
Purchase
Downloads
a preview of the last planner system workbook guide pdf
Last Planner System Workbook
As a comprehensive guide to LPS, this workbook introduces the Last Planner, a system of lean construction principles that help increase the reliability of a planning system and thereby significantly improve performance.
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preview of last planner system chapter
The Last Planner System® of Production Control
The Last Planner System® brings stability to the project by giving attention to flow while reducing variation in the hand-off of work between the specialists in a continuously improving situation. Download this free chapter to learn more.
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phase scheduling in the last planner system pdf preview
Phase Scheduling
A presentation given during a Last Planner System research workshop. Download this free resource to gain a better understanding of LPS to further your lean journey.
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Rethinking Lookahead Planning to Optimize Construction Workflow
The study presents to industry practitioners applying the Last Planner System a standardized framework for implementing lookahead planning on construction projects. Download the paper to learn more.
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a preview of the last planner system and location-based-management system white paper
Last Planner System & Location-based Management System
The Last Planner System (LPS) and Location-based Management System (LBMS) aim to achieve Lean goals. Download this free resource to learn how LBMS can be integrated with LPS.
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preview of a last planner system and lean construction case study
Alliance Lean Design and Construct on a Small High Tech Project
This project case study showcases the answers to a number of previously untested theses. Download the paper to learn more.
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preview of the schedule forecasting white paper pdf download
Reliable Schedule Forecasting in Federal Design-Build Facility Procurement
This paper documents how initial project schedules fail to sufficiently forecast and provide reliable baseline for total cost, final duration, and activity count for three design-build projects. Download to see the research findings.
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a preview of a construction management and last planner system case study pdf
Revolutionizing Construction Management with Lean and Last Planner
Download this presentation to learn how an owner applied Lean Methods and Practices to redesign healthcare operations within a facility to improve the delivery of patient care with improved work flow and facility operations.
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