Agile project management in the construction industry is a process of performing tasks in an orderly and agile manner to ensure proper time management and cost control on ongoing projects.
It breaks down large projects into smaller tasks and focuses on continuous communication and collaboration between teams such as contractors, stakeholders, workers, suppliers, and consultants.
This agile methodology helps mitigate risks associated with contract negotiations, schedule delays, changes in project scope, and more through shortened, iterative development cycles while being flexible enough to adapt to changes that occur as the project progresses.
Agile project management in construction allows you to quickly assess potential issues before they arise and adjust workflows accordingly without sacrificing productivity or quality.
A construction project is generally managed in a sequential manner. The typical life cycle of a construction project typically goes through the following phases:
- Post-Construction & Operation
Before the design phase can begin, there is usually a shorter conceptual design phase where the requirements for the project are gathered.
The entire process is linear, meaning that one phase must be completed before the next begins. In common parlance, these phases in a project plan are called phase gates.
Agile project management can be applied in the planning phase, which consists of design and pre-construction. Here, the focus of Agile construction teams is to create an iterative work process, often delivering value as they adapt to change. Using sketches, site plans, and so on, they try to gather initial customer feedback as quickly as possible to ensure that requirements have been properly communicated.
This allows them to adapt to changes early on, which is an industry like construction that is much more cost-effective than reworking later.
The benefits of agile management in the design phase of a construction project can be summarised in the following points
Higher product quality:
Continuous updates to plans and designs result in higher design quality. Through continuous iterations and sprints, a design is conceptualised quickly. This also improves the process and work.
Eliminating low transparency:
One challenge that construction companies often face is the inability to properly track their processes from concept to execution, resulting in a chaotic environment. To solve this problem, Agile preaches visualisation at every step of the workflow.
In practice, this can be achieved by integrating Kanban boards where Agile builds teams can visualise the phases (and subphases) of their work process. Over time, these boards become value stream maps that enable teams to quickly identify constraints, eliminate waste, and respond promptly to issues as they arise.
Eliminating communication errors:
Incorporating regular feedback loops to synchronise progress and discuss issues is Agile’s way of addressing this problem. For example, Agile design teams hold daily meetings where they outline what work has been completed, and what they have left to do, and discuss anything that is getting in their way.
This keeps everyone on the same page and ensures that any obstacles are uncovered as quickly as possible.
Improving project delays:
Most construction project delays are due to inaccurate contractor estimates, inadequate risk management, inaccurate designs, and a lack of understanding of needs. With regular meetings and sprints, the team can eliminate these issues as much as possible. It also holds stakeholders accountable for their needs and decisions.
Higher customer satisfaction:
Agile incorporates customer feedback and ensures that customers are constantly involved from the beginning of product development and throughout the development process.
For some medium to small build projects, the build plan can be broken down into smaller sprints so that the customer can see the benefits relatively quickly, rather than waiting for the entire project to end and then evaluating it. This gives the customer the flexibility to make changes to the design in the next sprints and so on.
Try Agile Project Management today
Agile project management brings useful tools and techniques, like the Earned Value Management system, that should be used by the construction project management industry. The time is now to embrace agile principles and practices in order to cope with the changing needs and expectations of the market, reduce risks and uncertainties, and increase efficiency and quality.