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The Power of Planning

A couple of years ago I was at a presentation by the Construction Owners Association of Alberta (COAA). These are the guys that do the major projects in Alberta. At that time skilled workers were still scarce although things were getting better. The COAA was taking a serious look at productivity as they were forecasting the number of workers that would be required as they looked into the future. They believed that planning, specifically workface planning could increase tool time by as much as 25%. Workface planning is having the right people in the right place at the right time with the right tools and materials. I don’t believe there is any extra cost associated with that. Imagine the savings in time and labour costs and that is something that can be applied to more than just construction.

There was an article online on Engineering News-Record in June of 2011 that dealt with this same issue. The article referred to a study that showed that prep work and time on task was rarely over 50% for the skilled workers in a typical day. The workers were actually asked what the issue was and things like no forklift to move material, no clear direction or unclear plans or specifications, and looking for tools were among the replies.

Does that apply to your workplace as well? Do you always have the right tools or clear direction (from management or customers) on what needs to be done? And if not does the job then take more time than necessary to complete?

How important is planning? When you can increase your productivity by up to 25% I would say it is very important. So why don’t we do it? I think it’s as simple as we don’t want to pay people when they are doing nothing! For the most part you can’t see someone planning. If they are just sitting there thinking, in our get it done society, they aren’t really doing anything and if they aren’t doing anything there is no value in that. It has been my experience that we apply that to ourselves as well so next time you are just sitting there planning understand that is just as important as the doing.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at