Process Improvement

How Agile Construction Management Can be the Key to Speeding Up a Construction Project

Written By: Joe Demski
July 18, 2022
10 min read

Construction industry business owners and management teams have struggled in recent decades to match the year over year (YoY) labor productivity growth of the total world economy (2.8%) or other industry sectors such as the manufacturing industry (3.6%)—yet there is every reason for construction contractors to want to improve performance and speed-up production output—according to the the McKinsey Global Institute, if the construction industry were able to match the pace of the world economy, it would generate an additional $1.6 trillion in value on an annual basis.

Slow and inefficient construction projects with unnecessary delays destroy profit margins and threaten the ability for contractors to continue to secure lucrative and high-paying jobs. Management teams across the industry have a vested interest in optimizing construction projects to deliver ahead of schedule and under budget. For many of the most successful construction managers, the answer to resolving these issues is implementing agile construction processes.

The agile approach is quickly becoming the most innovative project management approach for project managers. In this article, learn more about why agile construction processes can be a valuable tool for contractors looking to speed up construction projects, reduce costs, and generate higher revenues.

Four Key Elements of Agile Construction Project Management

There are four key elements to agile project management in construction.

  1. Prioritizing communication and collaboration between all construction project stakeholders
  2. Removing complex manual processes and using construction management software to improve performance and quality management
  3. Focusing on constant communication and feedback with key construction project stakeholders over the limitations of contractual obligations
  4. Adapting to the challenges and opportunities of the moment to deliver the best possible results today and a culture of continual improvement to optimize performance down the line

Challenges to Construction Project Completion Time

Speeding up construction industry projects requires contractors finding creative project management strategies for resolving the following enduring challenges felt across the industry:

  • Labor shortages
  • Supply chain challenges and materials shortages
  • Inaccurate calculations or imprecise renderings in planning activities
  • Insufficient employee training leading to unsafe and inefficient machinery operation
  • Disjointed organizational communication between jobsite and management
  • Poor visibility into job site resource data including materials, human capital, technology, and more

Advantages of Agile Construction Management

Agile construction is a dynamic and integrated system of philosophies, practices, and technology-driven construction project management techniques to deliver optimal results across project job sites. Construction owners and management teams can dramatically improve the efficiency and productivity of their projects by implementing agile project management methods, processes, and technologies.

Agile project management was originally developed by software manufacturers before being implemented across the automotive and other industries to great success.

Today, the agile approach is a very popular construction project delivery approach in the construction industry that offers some major advantages over the waterfall project management approach.

Project segmentation

One of the main hallmarks of the agile construction method involves breaking down larger construction project phases into smaller and more manageable pieces. This project segmentation also involves placing specific construction team stakeholders in supervisory roles to ensure the execution of the tasks connected to their areas of responsibility.

Parameter acceptance

This project management style involves setting very mission-critical acceptance criteria for each phase of the project from conceptualization through construction and facilities management services. In this way, the agile approach is organized to deliver a constant culture of evaluation that promotes continuous improvement.

Constant validation

The agile methodology for construction management ensures that project teams are in constant contact with owners and clients. Validation processes from clients serve as a vital supplement to parameter acceptance to ensure that all project stakeholders are on the same page as each phase of the segmented construction project is completed optimally.

Feedback loops

It could be said that the feedback loops are what ensure the segmented phases, acceptance, and validation proceedings generate a culture of accountability rooted in the pursuit of greater efficiencies. Agile teams become very comfortable with feedback processes and see them as a major opportunity for ensuring continued performance improvements.

Culture of communication

Communication between construction project teams, across managerial hierarchies, and between internal and external project stakeholders are all huge focus points of agile project management. In this way, agile organizations seek to remove limits to fruitful communication to ensure information flows freely between all parties connected to the success of a construction project.

Accelerated development life cycle

The agile project management approach for construction is hinged on an accelerated development timeline. This approach is very much solutions-orientated and delivers the means construction business owners need to ensure their projects are executed quicker.

Using Agile Construction Management to Speed Up Construction Projects

Agile construction delivers the agility construction service providers need to pivot more quickly and respond to change as needed. In today’s fast paced business environment, it's easy to understand why any business unit would want to be more adaptable to change.

Over the last two years, a culture of uncertainty has pervaded the business landscape and made it much harder for contractors to maintain control of global supply chain dynamics, labor shortages, rising costs, and the need to try to push forward towards project goals when so many conditions, regulations, and compliance demands have been changing on a monthly and quarterly basis.

Agile project management creates the perfect organizational framework for supporting cooperation and leveraging work flows that allow different teams to operate together towards shared goals with greater efficiency. This construction project management approach is inherently client-focused and ensures that construction contractors are focusing their attention and organizational resources to address the issues that matter most to clients and owners, helping to ensure that overall customer satisfaction and project efficiency remain key focus areas.

Agile methods allow construction teams to respond to changes in a much more quick and dynamic way without getting side tracked by the bureaucracy that can be so prevalent in large projects involving multiple stakeholders. When agile construction teams run into production setbacks, they adjust into sprint mode to address their backlogs and get back on track without compromising other areas of project success.

Agile teams are self-organizing and allow different individual stakeholders and business units to take ownership over the phases they are responsible for delivering. This allows teams to stay in their lanes and focus on the things they need to achieve to generate results in the quickest possible way. This helps to ensure that teams are involved with developing and executing the activities that they need to do to achieve the best results for everyone.

Using the agile project management approach, communication between construction teams and project owners is a major focus area. This creates dynamic feedback loops and a culture of accountability that ensures production moves forward according to plan and in line with evolving needs of all stakeholders.

Tips to Speed Up a Construction Project

Construction is a very time intensive and demanding profession that challenges professionals to deliver results without compromising profit margins. While every project is unique, the following strategies should help just about every contractor to speed up their construction projects.

In order to speed up completion time for construction projects, builders can adopt a number of strategies including using high-quality materials, simplifying the home layout, using digital technology, working closely with the client, incorporating a design engineer, increasing manpower, and pay close attention to the schedule.

Use high-quality materials

You will be much less likely to need to revise your designs when you invest in high-quality building materials from the start. Sometimes the best way to speed things along is to ensure that you do not waste valuable resources using materials that will not hold up to task.

Simplify the construction layout

Few decisions will expedite a construction project like removing some of the more challenging and time consuming phases to the project execution. You may find that project owners are more than happy to work with you if it means they will save time and money as well.

Adopt construction management software

All construction businesses can be run more efficiently by using the right software solutions. Make sure to implement a software solution that delivers the visibility needed to really lead to better results.

Work with the client

One of the foundational elements of the agile approach is the premium it places on communication between construction service providers and project owners. Communication helps to resolve a vast majority of setbacks.

Incorporate a design engineer

Your design engineer is a vital role that many construction companies overlook. While it can at times feel daunting to bring another overseer on site, design engineers play a vital role in speeding up construction projects by ensuring that all design elements can be incorporated together in a seamless way.

Increase manpower

At the end of the day, it’s tough achieve more with less. That is why many construction projects can be completed much faster by making investments in the workforce. More talented workers on the jobsite will not only help projects get finished quicker, but with higher quality results.

Pay attention to the schedule

Time management is essential to achieving success in the construction industry. Your organization has a vested interest in ensuring that your teams are able to successfully complete all project milestones on time.

FAQs

How can I increase my construction speed?

Most construction projects can increase speed by implementing agile methods. Agile practices revolve around focusing attention on the construction process that is of the highest priority. In addition, adopting enterprise construction project management software is one of the most effective ways for contractors to improve the efficiency of their construction process project execution.

How do you speed up a project?

Construction firms can overcome production delays by using lean construction and agile approaches as new tools to resolve the ineffective communication between project stakeholders that often leads to cost overruns and project delays.

How do you fix a construction delay?

Delays occur on construction job sites for a large number of reasons. Agile project management allows construction teams to communicate and collaborate more effectively. By improving construction project performance, contractors can overcome delays and uncertainty more easily. The agile approach is a very valuable new tool for improving construction efficiency.

What is agile project management in construction?

Agile is a set of processes, philosophies, and project management tools used to drive a culture of continuous improvement and adaptation by allowing changes to be made at every stage of a project’s execution as conditions change and situations evolve.

How agile is used in construction?

Agile project management creates the perfect organizational framework for supporting cooperation and leveraging work flows that allow different teams to operate together towards shared goals with greater efficiency. This construction project management approach is inherently client-focused and ensures that construction contractors are focusing their attention and organizational resources to address the issues that matter most to clients and owners, helping to ensure that overall customer satisfaction and project efficiency remain key focus areas.

Are construction projects waterfall or agile?

Both the agile and waterfall project management approaches have been used by construction contractors. The waterfall method is considered the older and more traditional approach.

How is scrum used in construction?

Scrum is an end-to-end agile team framework that allows construction projects to be broken down into segmented pieces with different teams responsible for executing different phases. Scrum is perfectly suited for the construction industry and is a powerful organizational method for generating collaboration between different types of contractors and business units.

Written By: Joe Demski

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