FlintCo

Using SmartPM, Scheduling at Flintco Has Become a Team Effort

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FlintCo

THE CHALLENGE

 

Some construction companies use dedicated schedulers to produce project schedules, a practice that can exclude the perspective of those in the field responsible for delivering the project. Flintco, a full-service construction company, does things a bit differently. Nearly all of Flintco’s project teams develop their project schedules with input from everyone involved on the job.

Being out at the job site, the project team is in a far better position than anyone to understand all the nuances of a project, as well as the risks and challenges,” said Melanie Gilbertson, Director of Production Support at Flintco. “These are the people responsible every day for what’s going to be constructed. Consequently, they bring certain insights to the job that no one else can.

However, as one might expect, skill levels vary between project teams when it comes to schedule development. The need for consistent, company-wide schedule quality convinced Flintco’s Innovation Committee – an internal organization that researches and recommends new technology – to examine the available tools for schedule analysis.

In 2017, the company adopted a platform to handle this function, but it required extensive manual data entry and provided almost no trend analysis for any of the data. Flintco continued looking for ways to enhance analysis and speed up the extraction of data from the schedule.

 

THE SMART SOLUTION

 

The committee got wind of a program called SmartPM, a cloud-based platform for analyzing schedule data and producing reports that identifies potential delays, overruns, missing logic ties, and overoptimistic milestones.

What truly piqued Gilbertson’s interest was SmartPM’s ability to compile deep insights about the project schedule without resorting to a very technical, hard-to-use program. Flintco began a trial using SmartPM on three or four projects for a six-week period at the end of 2022; the platform’s features, including its intuitive interface and ease of use, convinced them to move forward with a 10-project pilot.

After just six months of use on those 10 projects, SmartPM noticeably enhanced Flintco’s ability to monitor schedule data while saving time and reducing manual data input. Since some of Flintco’s project schedules contain 5,000 or more line items, the time savings were dramatic; subsequently, the decision was made to implement the platform company-wide.

While Flintco embraces all of SmartPM’s functionality, they find the Quality Checker to be a particularly appealing feature. It provides a fast, accurate snapshot of the initial project schedule based on standard practices and guidelines established by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). The report generated from the Quality Checker highlights activities that can potentially cause problems and assigns a letter grade to the schedule. So team members not only find out immediately how sound their schedule is, but they also know exactly what they need to do to improve their grade.

The user-friendly and easily readable presentation format offered by the SmartPM platform also enables senior operations leaders to quickly review the key metrics and immediately see what has changed since the last update instead of endlessly scrolling through lines of information that are not relevant to them.

 

THE OUTCOME

 

Once an initial schedule is created, it is fed into SmartPM for rapid evaluation. The team relies on the platform to generate updates on a weekly basis, a timeline that is now more realistic. Meeting the goal of producing weekly updates is also critical because Flintco’s policy calls for the use of data that is a maximum of seven days old; making the weekly reports a consistent practice ensures that this policy is maintained.

What’s more, current data and timely updates are required elements of Flintco’s Lean2.0® program, the company’s signature approach to Lean construction that supports on-time completion.

Accountability is another positive byproduct of the platform. Flintco can now track trade partner performance to ensure they’re doing precisely what they’re supposed to be doing. And if a difficult conversation occurs, senior leaders have complete data to back up their position. It also works the other way.

We’ve had instances of clients who had an owner’s representative or a third-party scheduler using a similar program to backcheck our schedules,” Gilbertson explained. “Using SmartPM levels the playing field and enables our teams to feel prepared going into a discussion about their project schedule. They know exactly what to expect.

"SmartPM has something that no other company could provide:"

About Flintco

Flintco was founded in 1908 and maintains eight full-service offices throughout the South and Southwest U.S. The company offers preconstruction, construction management, design-build, project and program management with the capability to self-perform inclusive of concrete, miscellaneous steel, and excavations for foundations. Flintco applies lean principles and practices to improve historically low labor productivity rates in construction. The adoption of an enterprise initiative called Flintco 4 LIFE – Live Incident Free Everyday – informs the company’s approach to safety and its culture.

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