Welcome to NCC’s project studio

Hi blog readers! Right now I’m doing a management rotation in the project planning team. At NCC, this means working on coordinating and managing the planning of projects. It’s a really fun, challenging and learning experience – in this post, I hope to teach you more about project planning and project studios!

What is project planning?

In this context, project planning refers to the process in which we produce documents, for example a system document or a construction document.

System document: All of the project’s systems are set out in the System documentation stage and checked to ensure that they work together. Examples of system issues that need to be resolved are:

  • Which framing system is best?
  • Which installation systems should we use?
  • What heating method is required to meet energy requirements?
  • Are the right spaces in place for this? (fan room, electrical room, shaft)

Construction document: The Construction document stage involves refining the system document produced and making it buildable. With all the main choices done, it is now time to draw the structural details and draw in and coordinate all the installations so they don’t clash. This is the document by which the building will be constructed.

Planning in the NCC Project Studio

Project planning for NCC projects is carried out using the project studio method. This means that the planning is centered around a project studio one day a week – usually a physical studio, but it may also be a digital forum. On the studio day, all the project planners/disciplines are expected to participate actively in work meetings and project-related matters. Examples of the different disciplines involved in planning a project include Architect, Designer, Electrical designer, HVAC designer, etc. as well as internal resources such as NCC Purchasing, Costing and Production.

During a project studio day, the people involved in the project are expected to participate in the start-up briefing and the concluding discussion, and to take part in the work meetings to which they are invited. Work meetings could concern anything relating to the building, and they vary depending on how far the project planning has progressed and the type of document that is being produced. A work meeting may, for example, deal with shaft positions, coordinating utilities, incoming services, lighting, door specifications or fire cell design.

NCC’s project studio uses Pull planning, which comes from the Lean production ideology. Simply described, it is a “post-it note” concept containing questions and deliveries. In the example below, NCC has posted a gray note (NCC's color) with a question to Arkitekten (placed on the Arkitekten row). In this example, Arkitekten needs to answer the question no later than week 40 (the note was placed in the week 40 column). The principle is to place the delivery/question at the latest date possible, i.e. the very latest date you need an answer to your question/receive a delivery. We do this out of respect for each other’s time and to create a better working climate. Suppose you are NCC in the note below and that you will not actually use the information from the note before week 42 – in this case, does Arkitekten really have to deliver the information as early as week 40 or can you postpone the delivery?

An example of "pull planning" at NCC.

During the planning phase we have one project studio day a week. In my department (Residential Construction Stockholm), project planning usually lasts a total of 16 weeks, with approx. 12–13 weeks of project studios and 3–4 weeks of review of the produced document before its final delivery. Naturally, this may vary depending on the department and size of the project, but since our department’s product is generally always an apartment building, project planning usually takes about the same amount of time regardless of project.

We hope you found this post interesting and that you learned something new about project planning and NCC’s project studio.

See you around!