Nowadays the number of organizations that use the integral planning is increasing enormously. Companies which are involved in more than one discipline in their daily operations need to consider the interfaces between different disciplines to be able to manage the processes and deliver the end product on time and within predefined budget. Integral planning is an important tool to link different departments within an organization and to summarize the needs and interests of different parties involved in a project.
But what is an integral planning?
In short, an integral planning is to make a project plan which contains the activities of different parties involved in the project while these activities have been linked to each other in a way that the relationships between the activities have been considered and a change in delivery time of an activity affects the following successor activities. In fact, using one project plan instead of using different plans for each department.
Let’s describe this with a simple example. Assume a company which builds residential buildings in the form of EPC projects. To implement a building project at least three different disciplines are involved in an EPC project:
- Design or Engineering (E)
- Supply chain management or Procurement (P)
- Production or Construction (C)
The engineering team starts with the design of the building, on the basis of the design outcomes the procurement team purchases the required materials and finally the production team begins the construction of the building when they receive the material.
Each of these departments have their own planning and constraints; for example:
- Engineering have limited capacity, sometimes needs information from external parties , is involved in different projects and needs to prioritize the deliveries.
- Procurement should have enough time to purchase and deliver the material because the suppliers have certain lead-times for delivery of materials. Indeed, they need to receive the design outcomes and drawings on time.
- Production has certain durations for realization of different construction activities, they need to receive the material on time to be able to finish the job within the deadlines.
As you look at the above mentioned constraints, you see that specific milestones should be created for each of the disciplines in one integral project plan. A simple integral project plan for this example can be seen below:
As you see some specific milestones have been created in this project schedule:
- Delivery Drawings by Engineering: the actual delivery date of the drawings by engineering to procurement
- Requested Delivery Drawings: the requested delivery date by procurement for the drawings (to be able to start the purchase on time)
- Delivery Materials by Procurement: the actual delivery date of the materials by procurement to production
- Requested Delivery Materials: the requested delivery date by production for the materials (to be able to start construction on time)
In the perfect world these milestones would be feasible for different parties. But what happens in reality is sometime like below:
Due to some unfortunate circumstances, engineering takes longer than planned and the actual delivery date of drawings will be later than requested by procurement. Because of this delay and some other problems in procurement process, the actual delivery date of material is later than what is asked by the production team. This in total leads to delay in the whole project delivery date.
But why using such an integral planning for the project?
By using the integral planning you would be able to link the activities in a way that the inter-related activities (successors and predecessors) would be linked to each other for different disciplines. The possible effects of delays in one phase of work is now visible and you can see what is the effect of delays on other department’s work and on project in total. For example the production team would be able to re-plan the activities on the basis of actual delivery date of the materials and adjust the planning in a way that they still meet the project finish date.
In short, some advantages of the integral planning are as below:
- Working in one schedule instead of different project plans for different disciplines / parties
- Getting a better insight of the inter-related effects and relations of the activities for different parties involved in a project
- Making specific milestones and agreements in advance to meet project deadlines and deliver the required information or services on time
- Reducing project costs and delivering the project on time by recognizing possible delays in early stages of the project
- Re-planning the project plan easier on the basis of the up-to-date and correct information of the predecessor activities
- It is easier to make mitigation plans as soon as an undesired delay happens in the project
To sum up, using integral planning will enhance the process management by creating a complete picture of the whole project instead of focusing on different processes separately.