Agile project management frameworks have gained popularity in the software development industry in recent years, and other industries, including construction, are keen to utilize them to their advantage, too. For example, in construction projects, agile project management methodologies can help teams deliver high-quality projects faster, be more responsive to changes, and improve communication and collaboration among team members.
Like other capital projects, construction projects face a range of different risks and challenges. Before agile project management, these risks and challenges are dealt with using control mechanisms and protocols that require rigorous deliberations before implementation. As a result, new and often unnecessary tasks are added to the schedule, complicating construction project management and delaying the project’s progress.
Thanks to agile project management methodology, many of the delay-causing steps can be smoothed out and core processes streamlined. This article will cover the basics of agile project management systems, how they can be applied to construction projects and some best practices for implementing agile project management in construction.
What are agile project management frameworks?
Agile project management frameworks are principles and practices that aim to deliver high-quality products faster by emphasizing rapid iteration, flexibility, and collaboration. The Agile Manifesto, a set of values and guidelines for agile project management development, was developed in 2001 by a group of software developers looking for a better way to build software.
The agile project management manifesto values:
- individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- working products over comprehensive documentation
- customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- responding to change over following a plan
Several agile project management frameworks have been developed based on the agile project management manifesto, including Scrum, Kanban, and Lean.
- Scrum is a framework for managing complex projects. It involves short cycles of work, called sprints, where a cross-functional team works on a specific set of tasks. At the end of each sprint, the team reviews and adjusts its plan based on what they have learned.
- Kanban is a method for visualizing work and managing workflow. It involves creating a visual representation of the work, called a Kanban board, and using it to track the progress of tasks through different stages of development.
- Lean is a methodology that aims to maximize value and minimize waste. It involves identifying and eliminating waste in the development process, such as unnecessary steps, defects, and delays.
How can agile project management be applied to construction management?
Construction projects are typically large and complex, with many stakeholders and a high level of uncertainty. agile project management methodologies can help teams in the construction industry deliver high-quality projects faster by providing a framework for rapid iteration, flexibility, and collaboration. Agile project management methodologies can be applied to construction projects in several ways:
- Hybrid approach – a construction team can use a hybrid approach that combines elements of different agile project management frameworks, such as Scrum and Kanban. For example, they can use Scrum to manage the overall project and Kanban to visualize and manage the workflow of tasks.
- Lean principles – construction teams can apply Lean principles to identify and eliminate waste in the construction process. This can involve using lean tools, such as value stream mapping and 5S, to identify and eliminate waste and improve efficiency.
- Agile project management software – aeveral agile project management software tools can help construction teams manage their projects using agile project management methodologies. These tools can create and track tasks, manage project resources, and communicate with team members.
- Collaborative approach – agile project management methodologies emphasize collaboration and communication, so construction teams can apply this approach by having regular meetings, such as daily stand-ups, to discuss progress, challenges, and solutions. They can also encourage team members to collaborate and share ideas to improve the project.
The role of digital technology in agile project management implementation
Agile project management is inherently digital, considering it was first used in the software development industry. However, its application in other sectors is primarily philosophical. Many construction companies have already made the step to digitize construction management processes as part of agile project management adoption. But this isn’t enough. Digital solutions, such as construction management software, are necessary to scale what’s already working.
Construction project management software can provide a platform for collaboration and communication among team members, allowing them to respond quickly to changes and identify problems as they arise. They can also help with task management, document control, and project scheduling, allowing teams to stay organized and on track even in fast-paced environments. Some specific ways that construction management software can support agile project management methodologies include:
- Real-time collaboration – construction management software can provide a central platform for team members to share information, collaborate on tasks, and communicate. This can help teams respond quickly to changes and identify problems as they arise.
- Improved visibility – with this technology, it is easier for team members to see what tasks are ongoing, who is responsible for them, and when they are due. This can help teams stay organized and on track.
- Increased flexibility – agile project management methodologies rely on adapting to change quickly. Construction management software can help teams do this by providing an easy way to modify project plans and schedules in response to changes.
- Enhanced communication – construction management software can help teams stay connected and informed, even when working remotely or on different shifts. This can be especially when working on multiple projects at various locations.
Best practices for implementing agile project management in construction
Agile project management has proven effective in boosting construction project adaptability. Drastic changes in scope, schedule, and budget usually cause things to slow down, but agile project management enables a construction company to keep pace while adjusting. It helps the team stay on track and meet deadlines by breaking work down into smaller, more manageable chunks and continuously reassessing the schedule as the project progresses. It also involves regular review of the budget, allowing for easier adjustments when the scope changes. With new technology further scaling the capabilities of this approach, fast deliver of high-quality construction projects has never been more attainable.
Behind the above-discussed technology is a culture of quality based upon agile project management’s full implementation. However, let’s not forget that this approach is new to most industries, including construction. So, it will take some time for it to be completely entrenched in the construction processes. Therefore, constant reminders and evaluation of best practices are essential in maximizing the potential of agile project management for construction projects. Here are some of the best practices for implementing this methodology in construction.
- Involve the right people. Identify the individuals with essential roles in the project—project manager, administrative staff, construction workers, subcontractors, and stakeholders.
- Define the scope. Agile project management methodologies are all about flexibility and responding to change. However, it is still important to define the coverage of the project to provide a clear direction for the team.
- Set clear and realistic goals. Agile project management is goal-oriented, so it is vital to set clear goals for the project. This can involve defining the desired outcomes, deliverables, and acceptance criteria.
- Use visual management tools. Visual management tools, such as Kanban boards and task boards, can help teams in construction better understand and manage their work.
- Communicate regularly. Agile project management frameworks emphasize collaboration and communication, so it is essential to have regular meetings, such as daily stand-ups, to discuss progress, challenges, and solutions.
- Be flexible. Agile project management frameworks are all about being flexible and responsive to change, so it is essential to be open to making changes to the plan as needed.
- Continuous improvement. Agile project management systems encourage continuous improvement, so it is essential to regularly review and adjust the project plan based on what has been learned.
- Empower team members. Agile project management methodologies emphasize empowering team members to take ownership of their work, so it is essential to give team members the authority and responsibility to make decisions and solve problems.
Agile project management in construction is beneficial for a myriad of reasons. It facilitates more frequent and meaningful communication between stakeholders, enabling better collaboration, trust-building, and decision-making. Agile projects also increase transparency, allowing all parties to have insight into the progress of each project stage. This helps prevent costly delays due to miscommunication or unclear expectations. Additionally, agile project management allows for changes to be implemented quickly and with minimal disruption, thus driving greater efficiency throughout the entire process.
Finally, an agile project management system provides increased visibility over financials by allowing teams to easily track costs in real time—ensuring that budgets remain on track while still meeting client needs. These benefits make agile project management an invaluable tool in the world of construction today.
Those implementing agile projects should invest in construction project management software to make the most out of it; a digital platform for communication and collaboration can significantly speed up what’s already a fast process. To learn more about PlanRadar, start your 30-day free trial or contact us today.