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"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."
- Winston Churchill -

Planning is a teamsport

Thijs van der Schaaf, head technical at shipyard Slob, tells about the success and profit of the renewed planning process. The red line is the involvement of management and the workplace; a collective team with a winning mentality.

Slob shipyard, started decades ago as a yard  to complete repairs on dredgers, is now evolved into a specialized company that builds large yachts. Besides these enormous steel constructions Slob also takes care of the equipment and large parts. After this the yacht is transferred to Shipyard de Vries, who completes the yacht construction. Don’t think of a yacht that floats in the Dutch inlands but  thinks about a yacht of average 80 meters long, with everything in and on it.

We are talking with Thijs about project management. According to Thijs project management is a good preparation for the work; to determine the sequence and to hold on to this sequence. ‘It’s like keeping a distant train on the tracks and when it is necessary resolving problems on our way’. A good planning is necessary to be able to do this. Until recently the planning was just a large piece of paper hanging on the wall on which the activities were graphically shown in colored bars. When management wanted to be informed about the progress, then the progress was estimated and the colored bars were shifted. For the project management  the planning was more a management communication medium  instead of a tool which you can use to steer.

In the meantime the planning process has completely changed. With regard to the planning Slob choose to use an innovative working method.  The planning used to be just a tool for management and project leaders, now the planning also lives on the work floor. All production departments are cooperating to have a transparent planning based on the reality. Before the progress is put in the planning, production fills out the progress forms. During the weekly sessions in the ‘war room’ all department heads and project management come together to discuss the progress. During this meeting we look back on the passed week and we look at the new 3-week-ahead forecast, that is based on the actual situation. The critical path is projected on a large screen, for possible concerns new scenario’s are simulated right there. Result is a new transparent planning. Advantage of this approach is that everything gets visible and transparent. Everybody knows where they stand. Exactly this visibility provides team spirit. The work floor monitor themselves what the effect is on the scenario of a problem. This creates a proud feeling when it actually works.

In the meantime this new approach has been fruitful; less delays and an increase of the efficiency. Also the communication with other partners runs better because Slob can adamantly provide the urgency and consequences of not delivering the information in time.

In the beginning the new planning process needed to get accustomed.  There was some resistance to open all kitchens and to show all work/jobs and progress at all departments. This fear was rapidly taken away by the advantages of transparency. Problems to which department heads ran into were suddenly visible and confirmed.

According Thijs the success of the implementation lies in the fact that management, the department heads and the work floor are really involved and committed. Independent of the beaten tracks Slob has set up a new structure and working method for the planning, supported by BlueSky.

In short: a success story, that is worth a party!

Text: Mariecken Groeneveld