Pull Planning and Lean Design Management

What Does BIM + Lean Equal?


We applied Lean concepts to the BIM Management workflow to enable a Smart Lean BIM approach.

Here we share The 4 Simple Steps that we implemented:

  1. Visual BIM Scoping
  2. Visual Pull Planning Stickies
  3. In-person Pull Planning
  4. Collaborative BIM Task Flow
Lean Design Management


We found that the Lean Design Management process gets started the right way by first defining a visual BIM scope.

This process using a visual scoping grid is actually quite enjoyable!

The team can simply click on the elements that are required to visually build up their project specific BIM requirements.

This example shows turning on the elements for the domestic water system – then making our selections – do we need the water tanks, their clearances, zones for piping, the actual piping…?:

BIM LOD Matrix

These BIM requirements must be aligned with the agreed project BIM Uses / Phases / Stages (the columns in the grid above).

BIM Uses should also include what is important to the Owner – coordination, visualization, 4D-5D, layout, etc? – more on a simple approach to do this here: Top 3 BIM Steps To Please Your Owner

After defining the BIM scope you can quickly print the BIM agreement if it’s needed for a contract:

BIM Contract


After agreeing on the BIM scope we then turn to project execution.

Here we will use a technique called Pull Planning.

For Pull Planning we use stickies to collaboratively define the planned task sequence.

Usually the stickies would be blank post-it-notes and not very useful until someone writes their scope onto the notes:

In our workflow below we see that the scope automatically creates a set of pull planning tasks with assignments and also shows the visual BIM elements so that team members instantly understand the scope being discussed:

Pull Planning Stickies
Printed Pull Planning Cards

These Pull Planning cards are easily filtered, printed, cut and ready to start the pull planning session.


The actual Pull Planning session is all about collaboration – driving great conversations as teams define their workflows on the wall.

It is essential for this process to conducted in-person – hence why we physically print the visual Pull Planning cards.

There are other digital tools to support this process however we found that 86% of the teams we studied preferred to run all of their Pull Planning in person.

Here are some guidelines to get you started with your Pull Planning sessions:

  • Ensure that a knowledgeable representative responsible for delivering each part of the scope is present.
  • Agree on a “destination” for the Project Milestone you are about to plan out.
  • Make sure that everyone in the meeting understands what “complete” looks like for this destination. Confirm again!
  • STARTING AT THE END (on the right) each team then begins to sequence their scope on the board.
  • Rich conversations between teams should be promoted.
  • There are no bad suggestions.
  • Discussions about what constraints need to be removed should be documented on the cards.
  • Once all cards are on the wall ask each team to individually present their scope (a “walk-through”) to all other teams and collaboratively agree on sequences and dependencies.
  • Divide the timeline into manageable bite-sized slices – usually weekly chunks work best but this will depend on your management preferences.
Pull Planning Session
Pull Planning Example


After the pull planning session you will now have smaller steps planned out in the correct sequence along with all of the check list items required from all parties to finish their work.

If all teams are in the same location you can simply use the cards on the wall as your plan (this is usually the most collaborative approach) however if you work in different locations you will need to digitize the results.

Pull Planning Results

This set of tasks are then simply managed in the Kanban board below – checking off tasks and moving the cards to update their status:

Pull Planning Software

This simple 4 step workflow (Visual BIM Scope, Print Cards, Pull Plan, Task Flow) helps ensure that the right team members have their valuable input included early in the project planning phase and the connected workflow streamlines the management of those tasks. 

We have seen this workflow save a project 16.5% in duration of the design process – the results are available here: Saving 16.5% On Design Timeline

Video extract from a recent free BIM webinar discussing The 4 Steps To SmartLeanBIM:

Three modules:

BIM Execution Plan


Visual LOD Matrix

BIM Scope

BIM Management

BIM Track

Create your Free BIM Execution Plan now:

BIM Blogs:

What is BIM?

What is BIM?

A “What Is BIM” explanation that even your Grandma would understand!

Recorded BIM Webinars:


Create your BIM Execution Plan:

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