You are measuring Percent Plan Complete (PPC) on your Last Planner® project, satisfied that the team is trending upward and that you are learning from plan failures. Is it possible to have 90%, and even 100%, PPC and still be falling behind?
Yes, if the project team is not also focused on making work ready. The purpose of the six to twelve-week lookahead review is to begin the process of making work ready. That includes identifying and removing constraints, breaking down and refining the phase plan tasks, and designing the operations required by those tasks. We look six weeks ahead of when the work is to be done because it can take four to five weeks to remove some constraints.
What should not happen if a task planned for next week is not ready because it still has constraints? The work should not go on the weekly work plan as a commitment, as it cannot be accomplished.
Here is an example of how that can play out on a project. Suppose the phase planning and subsequent make ready planning identified ten tasks that should be done next week, but five of those tasks still have constraints. The team should only commit to doing the five constraint-free tasks on their weekly work plan. At the end of the week they succeed in completing all five tasks, and therefore achieve a 100% PPC. But five other tasks that should have been done were not accomplished. Repeat this several weeks in a row and it is clear delivering work due by the next project milestone is in jeopardy.
That is where the Tasks Made Ready (TMR) metric is helpful. Similar to PPC, TMR is an easy calculation to make. In the example above, only five of the ten tasks due to start that week were ready. The TMR for the week is 50%.
What do you do with this information? Just as you assess the reasons for plan failure when studying the PPC metric, do the same for TMR failures. Why wasn’t a task ready? Don’t settle for the first answer. Do a Good 5-WhyTM analysis. Are causes common across many of the tasks? What steps does the team need to take to improve the percentage of tasks made ready?
Making work ready can often be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful project. Take advantage of using the TMR metric to learn how to improve this vital part of planning and managing the work.