Workflow planning makes any project more manageable. NASA uses this
process and it will work for you, too.
Photos by the author
Defining the project’s goals answers the “whats, whys,
and hows” of the project. What should this model do—fly
Aerobatics or compete in Scale events? How big should it be?
What flying conditions is it meant for? How many hours and
dollars will be needed?
I often bounce back and forth between options during this
part of the process, but when my mind is set, it’s easier to see
the job through to completion when I feel that I’ve made the
Thinking the project through brings up the next set of
questions. What critical parts and materials are needed? Does
your local hobby shop stock the needed items? If not, can you
order them or do you need to do so online? Do you have all of
the tools that you need? Will you need to learn a new skill?
Satisfying these requirements before they are needed keeps
the project from stalling.
This last phase is where the real planning begins. Imagine
how the project will proceed from start to finish. Start from
a high level and then add details as you go. Incorporate any
instructions that are on the plans.
The purpose of the project breakdown is threefold. First,
separate the project into manageable pieces. Building a flying
model can be a challenge, but building a wing is not. Treating
the build as a collection of subprojects makes it much easier to
43 Model Aviation JUNE 2015 www.ModelAviation.com
by Paul Kohlmann
In previous installments of the “MA Construction Series,” I’ve covered basic toolbox supplies, the vocabulary that modelers use, and a bit about reading plans. I’ve
received great suggestions from Model Aviation readers
along the way, and one of these ideas resonated with me.
Bern Heimos suggested that what many builders need is
information about workflow planning.
Workflow planning is simply a way to outline how a
project will unfold. When done thoroughly, the planner
can identify materials, skills, and equipment needed for
the project. Stopping a project in midstream for lack of
critical parts can be frustrating. And learning a new skill
might be more beneficial if done ahead of a critical need
rather than in the heat of the moment.
A schedule and budget can be created through
workflow planning. This might sound as though we
are turning our hobby into work, but that isn’t the
intent. Mapping out the cost in time and money before
engaging a project can mean the difference between a
project that flies and one that lies shamefully dormant
after the interest and investment have run out.
There are a number of ways to approach workflow
planning. Here is one simple method broken into three