Insights and best practices for construction management technology and project delivery

Combining Lean Construction and CPM Scheduling for Greater Efficiency

In the following interview, Mark Jenkins, director of product strategy for Oracle Construction and Engineering, discusses the benefits to construction firms of using a combination of critical path method (CPM) scheduling and Lean Construction techniques, and he explores how Oracle is enabling organizations to fully integrate these approaches.

Q: What's behind the growing interest in Lean construction methods?

A: Lean construction offers methods for significantly increasing efficiency in building activities through what I would term "high-frequency collaboration." It also provides the level of detail that construction workers in the field need for near-term production planning. Unfortunately, Lean Construction processes have historically been highly manual—post-it notes on a whiteboard—and have been disconnected from the master schedule created by CPM, the traditional approach to creating and managing schedules.

Q: Given that disconnect, do construction companies typically opt for one or the other?

A: Ideally, companies will embrace both approaches, because CPM and Lean Construction entail different levels of detail and benefit different communities in different ways. Professional planners and schedulers use CPM to create a long-term view. By contrast, Lean Construction is intended to bring predictability and agility to what's happening short term in the field. Both are important, but historically they haven't been integrated.

Q: What's been the challenge in bringing these two approaches together?

A: Innovative companies have been trying to run both approaches in parallel for years, but they've struggled in integrating the unique process and data aspects of each. This has prevented organizations from breaking down project overview summaries into finer and finer levels of detail. Ultimately, that requires an integrated data set.

Q: What's Oracle's answer to this challenge?

A: Oracle has created Oracle Prime Lean Scheduling, a cloud-based solution that's engineered to bring together the processes and data associated with lean and CPM, respectively. Oracle Prime Lean Scheduling works directly with Oracle's Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management. Existing Primavera P6 customers can use Oracle Prime Lean Scheduling to easily create an integrated lean construction and CPM platform. No other tool does that today.

Q: What benefits do construction companies see from combining these two solutions?

A: Blending these approaches gives them the best of both worlds: the predictive, long-view analytics that show when projects will be completed, along with the detailed, production planning perspective that field teams need to get there—all in one place.

To learn more about the benefits of integrating Lean Construction practices and CPM scheduling, visit https://www.oracle.com/applications/primavera/solutions/lean-scheduling/index.html.

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