Marc Roberts explores collaborative planning, and how cutting-edge digital tools can replace traditional methods to ramp up productivity.

Construction projects are collaborative exercises which from the very start need collaborative planning. A Lack of cohesion leads to mistakes and delays, both of which cost money.

Collaboration is key

Collaborative planning is all about coordination, commitment, and control. In essence, it means working with everyone in an organisation to minimise disruption, making sure all activities flow smoothly and on time.

From the start, it’s crucial to tease out ‘the art of the possible’ – assessing your skills and capabilities as a team to see what you can achieve and drawing on the experience of the people you’re working with to help the project excel.

The best way to set the project up for success is to run a large collaborative planning session for each phase of works. This brings together all the key people working on a project and directly involves the knowledge holders to deliver the plan and make the project a success. From here, you can collectively work out the best way to deliver by exposing the previous lessons learned, exploiting the latest advancements and utilising the combined talent in the room.

Additionally, identify your strategy and tactics and clearly define the optimum sequence of works with the key enablers to make it happen. It’s also crucial, at this stage, to agree the behaviours for success and the systematic routines needed to catch, drive and deliver the plan.

Developing a gameplan which inspires confidence in the team and shifting the focus will keep the plan on track and ensure teams feel fully supported. The most effective way to do this is scheduling weekly look-ahead sessions, that make sure your team are thinking at least six weeks in advance and have all make-ready needs in place to drive certainty.

Other tactics include creating a weekly work plan, which divides the week’s activities into daily task lists, so each team member is clear on what they’re responsible for and when. This level of planning will then feed into daily reviews which all align with the programme.

Delving into this daily detail allows teams to effectively measure whether they achieved what they set out to do, and, if not, identify any issues – or see if there’s scope to claw things back.

At BBI Services, we believe regular reviews, supported with the right performance dialogue, are vital for driving improvement. Don’t review enough and issues won’t be identified as quickly, which equals longer delays and more scope for things to go wrong.

Taking a systematic approach and deploying everything above provides a meaningful programme. With a fully committed team, you’re also more likely to tackle potential problems before they impact the project.

The evolution of collaboration

Traditionally, collaborative planning would involve getting everyone together in one large room. Using hundreds of post-it notes, each person would map out their part of the programme and stick them to a wall. However, now struggling to decipher handwritten post-it are a thing of the past with the implementation of digital solutions. At BBI, we’ve found people equally engage when these sessions are facilitated virtually. Using collaborative platforms, like Miro, teams can work together far easier and achieve a much better output.

One big consideration is which digital collaboration system to use. It’s important to not get carried away with how slick or aesthetically pleasing a product is. Focus on functionality, and what will give you and your team the best value.

Additionally, no one size fits all. Each platform has different benefits and advantages depending on the project. A good way to test if the system is right for your business is by checking it’s simple, intuitive, engaging and effective. If it can tick these boxes, it’s sure to drive improvement throughout the programme.

Remember, it’s not all about the software. It’s about the team dynamic, relentlessly challenging the status quo and finding the best way to foster the right behaviours across your projects, supply chain and throughout your business.  Here at BBI, we help teams adopt a performance mindset to become masters of collaboration where best practice turns to common practice.

In need of support on your collaborative planning journey? Contact one of the BBI team today: