scheduling software,

Lovell Partnerships uses scheduling software Powerproject by Elecosoft to construct a template for industry-leading success

An industry-leading company does more than buy hi-tech software. It refines the way it uses that software to strengthen performance with every new project.

UK construction firm Lovell Partnerships recently delivered the first phase of a 1,000 new home Major Housing Partnership with the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, using Powerproject by Elecosoft.

So impressive was the project performance that construction manager Michael Saunders clinched a Gold Medal at the 2020 UK Construction Manager of the Year Awards. But Lovell isn’t stopping at this success.

Its East Anglia team is now learning from the first scheme to refine its strategy for the remaining sites in the Major Housing Partnership. Tightening templates, enhancing communications and bolstering its supply chain to deliver cost-effective quality for its clients.

Meeting tight budgets with agile techniques

Lovell Partnerships, part of Morgan Sindall Group, has been building high quality apartments, townhouses and family homes across the UK for 50 years.

Its success is driven by a strong network of regional construction managers – including East Anglia’s Michael Saunders, whose innovative work in King’s Lynn secured him a Gold Medal at the 2020 CIOB Construction Manager of the Year Awards.

Saunders used agile planning techniques to work to a tight budget when delivering Orchard Place, the first site in the Major Housing Partnership. And key to this success was Powerproject project management and scheduling software.

“The challenge with any project is working to the client’s budget – and that means getting our timings right,” he explains. “With Powerproject, we can put an accurate timeline together at preplanning stage, even without final site information. We then monitor that timeline closely to minimise slippage.”

To ensure speed and consistency, Saunders and his team set up standardised templates for each size and format of Lovell Homes property used on the site. These templates form the basis of project plans, which can be adapted for each client’s requirements and finishing touches.

Seeing the impact of changes – immediately

The Orchard Place team’s ability to stay on schedule was severely tested during the construction, as work was hit by a number of unpredictable setbacks.

High water table, tidal deposits and rich soil threatened a costly earthworks operation, while operations were interrupted by both 2018’s “Beast from the East” snowfall and the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. But Powerproject enabled Lovell Partnerships to recoup lost time.

“We can look at the whole project on screen and discuss what resourcing we needed to get back on track,” Saunders acknowledges. “With Powerproject, you see the impact of changes immediately, which helps you stay focused.

“For example, once we knew the cost and duration of groundworks, we updated the delivery sequence and looked at where we could pick up time. This motivated us to bring in precast ground beams, rather than building them on site.”

Powerproject also promoted joined-up thinking and dynamic scheduling. Covid-19 regulations mean Lovell Partnerships has to do a detailed on-site clean three times per day at the moment. This has been built into the programme templates and can easily be taken out in future phases when additional cleaning is no longer required.

Building a true partnership

In addition to internal planning, the team also uses Powerproject to share schedules with the customer, for complete confidence in the delivery timeline.

“At least once a month we look at the project in detail, plot by plot, analysing our progress right down to the day. Then we’ll extract that data from Powerproject and share it,” Saunders says.

“This way, we can show the client the exact resources we need to make the project work. And the data can be easily understood by someone who isn’t familiar with the labour-intensive process and procedures involved in modern construction.

“It’s easy to have a partnering contract that’s not a partnership. But with Powerproject we can work as a unit with our clients, getting complete buy-in and developing solutions as a team.”

Learning to work differently

Lovell Partnerships is a company that continually strives for excellence, so the team is already seeking strategic lessons from its award-winning first site. Saunders wants to use Powerproject to drive future efficiencies on the remaining sites in the Major Housing Partnership.

“We need to understand how many people we’re using at any one time, to set the programme pace,” he says. “And where things haven’t run to plan, we need to improve our templates. We can only learn by doing things differently.”

One key innovation area will be supply chain engagement, as Lovell Partnerships wants to show contractors exactly what is required of them from the start. Through Powerproject, they can filter requirements for each contractor and share the relevant data, so subcontractors can accurately plan resources based on what needs to happen and when.

The East Anglia team is also demonstrating to future prospects how they’ve run seamless programmes using project management and scheduling software.

“As a business, we’ve got some very happy clients and we want to continue those successful partnerships while winning similar projects. Powerproject is ingrained in our team. And we’re still only using the tip of the iceberg!”

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