Managing construction projects can be a little tricky and complicated, even if you have been in the industry for a while now. There are a variety of plans, approaches, and strategies that you can try out when it comes to handling your projects but selecting the best construction project management methodology is the first step to ensure a successful outcome. Choosing the best project management approach that fits your company’s needs and requirements is crucial to ensure smooth construction progress and complete each project on time and within budget.
Though there is no perfect and error-free way to manage a project, you can choose an efficient technique to fulfill your project’s objectives and how you want it to progress. Choosing a project management methodology to work with can either make or break your project. There are some benefits to defining your management style at the start of each project. For one, it can give you a consistent framework and guide to help your team to define and manage project-related vital aspects such as resources, money, team members, timelines, and stakeholders. It can also help you get higher visibility from within your processes, giving you valuable data and insights to manage and organize the project efficiently and effectively.
With so many options to choose from, it is no wonder that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to project management for construction. It may be overwhelming to the right one. This article discusses the various types of construction project management methodologies and how to choose one that is suitable for you and your company.
The Various Types of Construction Project Management Methodologies
There is no perfect approach to construction project management. Business owners or project managers can switch up their approaches and adapt their methods to fit the needs of each unique project and job site. This section has listed four of the most common construction project management methodologies.
Waterfall Project Management
First on our list is Waterfall project management, also known as traditional project management. This technique is the most straightforward way to manage a project, which involves laying out clear milestones and deadlines for each task to create a clear construction timeline. It takes a systematic approach to your projects by emphasizing the relationship of one phase to another, with each new phase starting only when the preceding one is completed. The workflow process will flow downhill towards completion, much like a waterfall. The team must first finish, review, and approve the previous job before moving on to the next. This approach was developed in industries where change is too expensive or time-consuming to implement, one of which is the construction industry. Thus, the Waterfall methodology gives these projects a rigid structure to achieve maximum efficiency.
This method often translates to effective project task management in construction, which starts with identifying and planning the goals and creating comprehensive work breakdown structures. During the implementation, you will need to assign the right team for specific tasks, track progress to know when to proceed to the next phase, identify challenges, and develop strategies to overcome them.
One of the critical advantages of waterfall project management is that it allows the team to ensure high-quality development in every aspect of the project. It enables the project manager to keep a meticulous eye on every intricate detail of the project to avoid compatibility difficulties later on in the process. However, since each step is preplanned in a linear sequence, this strategy is relatively inflexible, which can lengthen the completion process by blocking builders from going forward on specific items while waiting for the completion of other, unrelated ones. So, any change in stakeholder priorities or needs will disrupt the order and require a revision or possibly an entirely new blueprint.
Agile Project Management
Agile project management is increasingly gaining attention in various industries, including construction. It is a project management method that divides a large project into several smaller segments and depends on the continuous cooperation and collaboration between stakeholders to improve and iterate a project at each step. This method is based on a cyclic, ongoing process that emphasizes experimentation, flexibility, and adaptability. The owner, general contractor, subcontractor, and other trade partners work hand-in-hand to deliver projects that meet the client’s demands while maintaining superior quality.
This method of breaking down a project into manageable parts ensures that it is delivered on time and within budget with consistent quality. It allows you to structure any project that can quickly adapt to changes. As an example, let us say that a two-story custom home will take about six months to complete. You can split the project into monthly sprints that consist of different project milestones and targets. In this way, the project remains flexible to unanticipated circumstances such as a sudden snowstorm, material stockouts, or change orders by planning and focusing on one sprint at a time.
Lean Project Management
Lean project management decreases waste and boosts the efficiency of your construction processes to save time and money. It is an approach that helps you manage construction projects by focusing on the end product rather than making difficult time, money, or quality choices. It allows you to eliminate all inefficiencies that can sabotage a project’s success by optimizing the processes within your organization.
Identifying the task and the program value is the first step in lean construction management. Understanding and knowing the client’s needs, wants, and goals for the project allows you to strategize and create plans or processes that deliver spaces that meet their demands and expectations. It enables you to strive for continuous learning and improvement to perfect your processes and ensure that each work steps flow smoothly from one to the next.
Lean project management requires companies to foster strong relationships to create a more collaborative working environment. One significant advantage of using this method is faster completion times. It allows teams to complete projects faster with a few personnel on-site by eliminating inefficiencies. This is especially enticing given the manpower crisis in the construction business, which makes meeting deadlines more difficult.
Critical Path Methodology
The critical path methodology (CPM) is a technique many project managers use to work out the optimum steps to accomplish a job efficiently, frequently in conjunction with construction scheduling management software. The “critical route,” or the longest sequence of tasks required to finish a project, is the first step in this methodology. The tasks in the critical route are referred to as necessary activities because if they are not completed on time, the entire project would be delayed.
Projects are made up of numerous tasks that must follow a set of instructions and sequences to reach a deadline. It may appear straightforward, but your project can go quickly out of control if you do not lay out the proper workflows. When managing a project, the critical path approach is useful since it highlights all of the tasks required to finish the project, the jobs that must be completed on time, and those that may be postponed if necessary.
The critical path method provides valuable insights into project planning, task scheduling, and resource allocation. It can assist job prioritization by providing teams with a better understanding of how and where to deploy resources and avoid unpredictable bottlenecks that can cause you to lose crucial time. It helps you strategize and plan accordingly.
Selecting The Best Construction Project Management Methodology for Your Next Project
Even if the plans, drawings, or materials are the same, no two construction projects will ever be the same. As a result, every project requires a unique and personalized approach to ensure its success. Projects managers must assess each project to identify its scope and requirements in order to select the appropriate method for the job.
Projects prone to frequent last-minute changes may benefit from an agile strategy. When quality takes precedence over timelines, a lean technique may work the best. If you want to prioritize construction efficiency, you can use the waterfall or critical path systems. The key factor in determining the right methodology is reviewing and evaluating your project’s demands. With so many frameworks and approaches to choose from, it is vital to focus on the following critical areas:
- Project Size, Scope, Complexity, and Requirements
- Customer Needs, Goals, and Level of Involvement
- Schedule Flexibility and Time Constraints
- Allocated Budget and Restrictions
- Number of Ongoing Projects
- Construction Workforce
- Inventory and Resources
- Your Organization’s Flexibility to Change
After considering these project components, the next step is to determine which project management strategy is ideal for you. Here are seven steps to do so:
1. Assess your project’s needs and determine the variables that can significantly affect its outcome.
2. Determine which criteria the methodology will have an impact on. Do you want to focus on flexibility or eliminate inefficiencies?
3. Examine all the methodologies and choose the most applicable ones to your project.
4. With your project, weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each proposed technique.
5. Examine which technique will contribute the most to your project’s success and efficiency, as well as which methodology will pose the greatest risk.
6. Collaborate with other members of your team to consider the options.
7. Document the methods used, apply the technique to the project and track its development to ensure success.