Sweeny &Co, a leading architectural firm in Canada, use Kanbans to manage critical processes.
In this post we will look at how they are using Kanbans for Architects – Contract Administration for a large 70+ story project in downtown Toronto. The Sweeny &Co team consists of a Senior Project Manager along with 4 to 5 other architects. The role of the architectural team in co-ordinating between Owner, Architect and Contractor (OAC) is critical to the successful construction of the building.
The Contractor uses a Construction Management application to manage the delivery of the building. The Toronto based architectural firm uses Kanbans to drive their internal processes to respond quickly and accurately to the numerous requests, such as RFIs and Submittals, received during construction. Kanbans give everyone on the team a clear overall picture of what needs to be worked on, what’s currently being worked on and what’s done. The entire team loves using Kanbans. It is easy to use and helps the team get work done. Team members can easily click a button and see all the items assigned to them. The Senior Project Manager loves using Kanbans because his team loves to use it. Everything is stored in a single location and he can monitor the progress of the team.
Configuration of the Kanban
The team uses a Kanban specifically configured for Contracts Administration with 6 columns and 4 color tags. The Kanban can be modified to more closely mirror your own internal processes. The columns that represent the flow of the Kanbans along with color tags are described below.
- Information – Items in the information column don’t require any action, but rather track conversations around the project. For example if the owner is considering adding more office space a card would be added here.
- Backlog – Owner requested changes, co-ordination items and other types of items are added here. As the priority of these items rise, they are moved to the To Do column.
- ToDo – This column contains the higher priority items that the team needs to work on. Items at the top of the list are more important then items at the bottom.
- RFIs & Submittals – These items have their own column because of their importance and the time frames associated with each one. RFIs must be responded to in 3 days and Submittals in 2 weeks. Due dates are assigned to ensure they are addressed within the appropriate timeframe.
- InProgress – Items that are currently being worked on. All items in the in-progress column are assigned to users.
- Completed – Items that are completed.
Card tags are used to show what type of task the card represents:
- Submittals – Blue
- RFIs – Green
- Owner Requested Change – Yellow
- Co-ordination Item – Red
How the Kanban is used
Kanbans are used to manage the team’s work. This typically begins during the team meetings that are held every Monday. During this meeting:
- New items on the Kanban are discussed and prioritized.
- Cards are assigned to team members and mutually agreed to completion dates are added to time sensitive items.
- Other cards are updated and re-assigned as required.
Tasks are reviewed to ensure the workload is evenly distributed among team members.
Following the meeting, team members can add checklists and attach documents to the cards assigned to them to help breakdown the tasks and show incremental progress. Many team members are driven by moving items to the Done status and checking off checklist items.
Anyone on the team that has any communication that requires an action can add cards to the Kanban. Items such as RFIs and Submittals are added when they are received. Items from informal discussions or phone conversations are added as soon as possible. The team avoids writing things on paper and puts everything in a single location.
The Senior Project Manager also uses the Kanban during the OAC meeting which is hosted by the contractor every 2 weeks. During this meeting:
- Open items are discussed with the owner and contractor.
- Information items are also reviewed to see if there are any changes in status.
Following the OAC meeting, all new action items are added to the Kanbans with each card representing a task. Existing items are updated as required. These items are reviewed at the next team meeting.
The Project Manager says that “After moving to Kanbans the team is more focused, organized and motivated than ever before. I feel more confident about the status of the project. Any team of architects would benefit from using Kanbans”. He also notices that crossing items off a list is a big motivator for many team members.
About Sweeny & Co
Established by Dermot Sweeny in 1988, Sweeny &Co Architects Inc. is a multidisciplinary practice whose work centres on driving demand through the creation and execution of highly desirable developments. Sweeny & Co partners with our clients to solidify their success. Through rigorous research and innovative design solutions, we collaborate to reinvent the way that they work, live and operate. Their projects aim to break down internal barriers, foster collaboration, and increase productivity in measurably better environments.
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