25,000 activities – 250 pages in Gantt – even the best planner can't handle that.
"It is increasingly rare for an NCC construction project not to be delivered on time, and good planning is the key!"
That's how Henrik Lindberg, Design Manager, NCC Building DK, begins our conversation about location-based scheduling. Henrik has worked at NCC for the past 7 years, striving to implement the method. And he succeeded!
Nicolinehus in Aarhus
The latest example is the residential development 'Nikolinehus' in Aarhus. A sizeable new story on Aarhus Ø covering 65,000m2 at around 1 billion DKK. This was delivered on time, and according to Henrik, the client Martin Busk from Brix Group is very satisfied.
Tommy Brun Rasmussen, Project Manager and Structural Engineer at NCC for the Nikolinehus project, shares:
"As I see it, location-based scheduling is the only right way to plan, especially with a billion-dollar project like Nikolinehus. You cannot achieve clarity in any other way on such large constructions. For example, it wouldn't be possible with Gantt charts. In Nikolinehus, our entire schedule was on one A0 sheet. In Gantt, it would fill 50 A0 sheets. The ability to coordinate all trades and locations visually makes all the difference. With all activities, we know exactly where we need to be – and when."
Tommy has just attended a course in general project management, where the discussion focused on handling milestones, among other things.
"With location-based scheduling, you are given milestones as a gift because activities are distributed across locations. At the same time, you can follow up at the location, and for that, we have used the Exicute app. Here, we monitor the status and progress and can precisely document how far we have come for supervisor and construction meetings. We often experience that foremen say they have completed XYZ. Then, we can immediately check the app to see if it's correct. If not, we can document the opposite and discuss it.
Previously, I did city registration in Excel. One of the challenges was that from the moment I registered a location and walked towards the trailer to enter it on my PC, I was stopped by 4-5 people, each with important and urgent questions. By the time I reached the trailer, I had almost forgotten that I was in the middle of registering a location.
Everyone agrees that progress reporting is important, but it's a big task with the 'old' method like Excel. With the app, you get it done!"
250 pages in Gantt = 1 page in LBS
Henrik Lindberg goes on to discuss some of the advantages of the method.
"The schedule I have now contains 25,000 activities. In Gantt, it fills 250 pages. The same schedule takes only ONE page in the Location-based Schedule. And on that one page, I have a visual overview of my entire schedule."
Risk analyses and transparency
Henrik continues: "With this method, I get an overview of where the challenges in my schedule lie. That is the most crucial advantage.
In practice, it means that when I use the method, I simultaneously receive a continuous risk analysis of my schedule.
As I plan, I immediately get an overview of the schedule's challenges. And because the method is so visual and easy to adjust, it's easy to address those challenges continuously."
There is a typical reservation regarding the method, which we confront Henrik with:
"Is it true that Location-based Scheduling only works when there are many repetitions?"
Henrik replies: "No, that's not true. Whether it's a residential construction with 500 identical units or a complex project with many diverse locations, the point of Location-based Scheduling is entirely different. The key is to get a visual overview of where the challenges in the schedule lie. With the method, you are given a risk analysis of your schedule, and you don't get that with Gantt.
I would actually prefer to say that it's the opposite. A simple commercial building—you can easily manage that with Gantt. But a complex construction, you have to do that with LBS to be able to oversee it. It will still be a complex construction, but with LBS, you can manage it!"
Good advice for implementation
Henrik and his team have managed to implement Location-based Scheduling in one of Denmark's largest construction companies. It has taken years, but now it's running. He has developed a methodology and has found that it works.
Here are the three most important keys in that methodology:
- Wait with nails and screws.
When the first sketch of a master schedule is being made, wait with nails and screws. Understood in the sense that you should start at the right level. Get into the helicopter and place the critical tasks. Only create main tasks and the critical path. There is no need to complicate the schedule and drown in details and detailed planning. Details should be added at the right time and at the proper levels.
- Champions pass on the relay
Focus on identifying the right key employees. Skilled individuals who have experienced how the method works. Key employees who share their positive experiences and can teach new interested construction managers and implement the method there. It's about inspiring and motivating—not imposing new methods on new construction managers. That won't lead to anything good.
- Structure, Structure, Structure
To exaggerate a bit, it should be such that if I get run over by a bus this afternoon, someone else should be able to slide in and take over the schedule for my construction project tomorrow morning—without any problems. Therefore, it's crucial that the structure is in order. Be systematic regarding date indications, naming, and history, and make sure there is a backup of your data. Nothing should fall through the cracks.
Henrik concludes: "Years ago, not many could read the slanted lines (cyclograms), but we rarely encounter construction managers like that today. Location-based Scheduling provides a transparency in the schedule that is hard to achieve with Gantt, and more and more people are realizing that."
On the project, NCC used the Schedule Planner program for Location-based Scheduling. Schedule Planner has since been discontinued and replaced by Tactplan, which is based on the same robust method. Learn more about Location-based Scheduling with Tactplan. here.