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A3 Report/process/Quality story

A problem solving, validation, decision-making, teambuilding and personal development tool. A3 supports working in a group and helps to create robust proposals, continual improvement, decisions, problem solving. A3 contributes to transparency of decision-making process that involves thorough information analysis as well as allows documentation of analysis and learning. A3 serves for rationalisation of choice and reduces communication in group problem.


A design-work sequencing tool based on the Design Structure Matrix
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Benefit: helps clarify when it is important to collocate all or part of a
design team so that critical inter-dependent decisions can be made. 

Building Information Model

A digital 3D/4D representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility which serves as a shared resource for information about that facility.  The model is collaboratively produced by the design team who share a single model. Most full BIM software incorporates clash detection.  By incorporating time in the model (4D) it is possible to test constructability (= virtual design & construction VDC).  2D and axonometic drawings can be output from the model for fabrication; some constructors are making the model available at the workface allowing operatives to look at the model from a variety of viewpoints during construction.  Clients are increasingly asking for BIM to simplify cost modelling (5D) and facilities maintenance (fm) (6D) during the operational life of the facility.

Benefit: significantly reduces errors in design; easy to check as built against the model; reduces design time; 

Choosing by Advantages

A system and a set of processes for making decisions that focuses only on the valued advantages of the alternatives.  It can help individuals and teams to improve quality of decisions.  When documented on an A3 there is a full audit trail for the decision.

Benefit: improves the understanding of the decision, the criteria used to arrive at it and the quality of the implementation.

Concurrent Engineering CE, Design for Construction and Maintenance

Designing the production system while designing the product or facility itself.  CE ensures that the design can be constructed.  CE requires early involvement of constructors and fm.

Benefit: improved constructability, fm; reduced cost

Design Structure Matrix - see also ADePT

Benefit: helps clarify when it is important to collocate all or part of a design team so that critical inter-dependent decisions can be made.


Designing the work for the worker.  Ensuring that the work is within the physiological limits of the worker and that tools, materials, etc are to hand when required so as to reduce damaging twisting, reaching, bending, etc.

Evidence-based design EBD

Exists to help designers make a connection between design and the outcomes that owners want from their buildings. Drawing on a growing research base EBD seeks to increase the chances that designs deliver what the customer wants. Still in its infancy, EBD is most fully developed in healthcare where evidence from clinicians is available.

Benefit: more productive facilities

Improvement kata

A systematic improvement/kaizen process developed within Toyota and first.  The improvement kata is supported by a coaching kata designed to support those learning the improvement kata.  Both are described in Mike Rother (2010) Toyota Kata McGraw-Hill.

Benefit: systematic and shared approach to solving problems within the business

Integrated Project Delivery IPD, Alliancing

Procurement strategies that enable early involvement of constructors and designers joined in a multi-party relational agreement that encourages application of Last Planner, TVD, concurrent engineering, to design and construct a facility.  Alliancing has its origins on the BP Andrew Project in the UK and was further developed in Australian and Finnish Public Sector projects.  IPD has evolved in the US beginning in 2004 in California. 

Benefit: reduces legal and insurance costs, increases value to owner at reduced cost.

Last Planner® System LPS

Developed specifically for construction, LPS establishes a systematic commitment-based process of production planning and control that is focused on improving workflow reliability.  Reliability is improved by enabling "last planners" (trade foreman and design team leaders) to make decisions about what work to commit to delivering within a given timeframe and within the context of higher-level plans that they have contributed to.  LPS is a flexible system that absorbs uncertainty inherent in the construction processes. LPS uses Percentage of Promises Complete (PPC) as the principal metric to measure the quality of planning and studying reasons for late delivery and activities that went better than expected to learn how to plan better. Longer description at

Benefit: more reliable and predictable production; uses social pressure rather than command and control; clear audit trail for commitments; manages in real time rather than after the event.

Last responsible moment

A point in time beyond which a decision will result in a delay in the overall project delivery date.  Borrowed from software engineering the easiest way to establish it is in the context of collaborative planning - see Last Planner.

Benefit: focuses the mind  in both design and construction; can be useful if you need to remind the client that s/he is about the delay the whole process.

Lean accounting An approach to management accounting that is designed to support and encourage continual improvement in lean operations by providing simple, visual, and low-waste information that helps management control, decision-making, understanding customer value, correctly assessing the financial impact of lean improvement.

Benefit: encourages continual improvement; supports lean operations

Long-term partnering

A business strategy that supports long term relationships with customers and suppliers  Not to be confused with IPD, Alliancing, or Relational contracting.

Benefit: it is much easier to keep a customer than to win one.

Off-site Manufacturing/Fabrication

Using the advantages of factory based production to reduce the amount of detailed work done on site à site as a simple assembly area where fabrications are assembled and connected.

Benefit: improved safety, improved speed, improved quality

PDCA Plan-Do-Check-Act

A four-step problem-solving process also known as the Deming cycle - though Deming referred to it as the Shewhart cycle. The four steps are: Plan - investigate the cause of a troublesome condition and create a proposal for its modification or resolution; Do - perform a test implementation of the plan; Check (or Study) - assess the results of the test for effectiveness; Adjust - if the results are unsatisfactory, modify the original condition or define a new standard procedure. If the results are not satisfactory, refine the plan and repeat the cycle until satisfactory results are achieved.

Benefit: basis for systematic, rigorous processes

Relational contracting/Alliancing/IPD

Multi-party design and construction contracts that focus on
communications and relationships between the parties as well as their specific
rights, obligations and deliverables. 
The starting points for these agreements are that the parties are to be
trusted and that we are agreed that the best way to do the work is by
collaborating.  [These are different from traditional, bi-lateral, transactional contracts that start with the assumption that the parties are not to be trusted.]

Benefit: facilitate lean and collaborative working easier; experience suggests projects are more likely to be delivered on time and within budget with the full scope agreed with the client - often more; makes it easier to do set-based design, TVD, CE, BIM

Set-based design SBD/set-based concurrent engineering

Set-based thinking develops sets of possible potential solutions far
into the design process only narrowing choices at the last responsible moment (c.f. point-based design that quickly chooses and develops a single solution to the point where it is no longer
workable - then moves to a new point). It requires comprehensive research and
thorough documentation so ideas which are not chosen for this project can be
recycled for use in future projects.  Choosing By Advantages is a good way to chose between alternatives.

Benefit: faster design process (this is counter-intuitive for many); allows
consideration of a wider range of options and enables synthesis of ideas to meet
customer requirements more effectively.


Standard work/standardized work/standard operating procedure SOP

Standard work is a documented description of current good practice - the
best, safest most reliable way we know to do a particular task. Standard work
forms the baseline for continual improvement; measures of standard work enable those engaged in improving current standard work to answer the question "is this change an improvement?" As the standard is improved, the new standard becomes the baseline for further improvement, and so on. Improving standardized work is a never-ending process.

Benefit: standard work à predictable results; basis for improvement


Target Value Design TVD

Project delivery method that shares methods with Target Costing and Value Engineering, but is performed within the context of lean construction and IPD. TVD has generated first cost savings of approximately 20% on case-study projects.  Starting with the project business case, the method establishes early scope (i.e. value) and a linked cost target for the project.  Design proceeds on the basis of increasingly detailed and accurate cost estimates for delivering the required scope. 

TVD is integral to Integrated Project Delivery and requires concurrent engineering.  For more information read Zimina, Daria, Christine Pasquire & Glenn Ballard (2012) Target Value Design; Construction Management and Economics 30:5, 383-398

Benefit:  increased cost and time certainty; reduced cost; improved buildability.