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Project management is one of the most important functions in the construction industry. Whether you are building a large skyscraper or a modest residential unit, any construction project involves many moving parts. As a result, successful completion often depends on the contractor’s project management capacity.
With many project management methodologies, it’s important to choose the right for the construction business. This article will review three popular methodologies and analyze their suitability for the industry.
The Project Management Needs within the Construction Industry:
Before analyzing the methodologies, it is important first to understand the construction industry’s unique needs. Any construction project involves multiple factors that have to be taken into consideration. This includes estimating the project costs and the overall budget. An accurate timeline needs to be created for each activity, and a workable project timetable must be drafted. Personnel needs must be estimated, and worker contracts need to be negotiated.
Multiple stakeholders need to be considered, and numerous regulatory agencies are often involved. In addition, the project has to be successfully executed from the planning stage to the construction stage. Finally, you also have to consider the complicated supply chain that comes from dealing with an impressively diverse set of suppliers.
A successful project management methodology has to be robust enough to accommodate all of these challenging factors. After all, success in project management is measured in delivering a completed project.
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The Waterfall Methodology is considered to be one of the ‘traditional’ project management frameworks. It has been used for many decades, especially in the construction industry. The waterfall system creates a linear and sequential project completion timeline.
It is considered to be rigid due to how inflexible it is when it comes to accommodating changes to the project. Under the Waterfall Framework, once the project planning phase is complete, there is very little room for changes. A task is only executed once the previous task has been completed. This is why it is known as the ‘waterfall.’
Each task has predefined milestones and a list of deliverables to assess its completion.
Why the Waterfall Methodology is Suited for Construction:
For starters, it was created specifically for the manufacturing and construction industries. Since changes to a construction project are expensive and often impractical, a rigid framework is preferred. Construction also favors the sequential design as many tasks are dependent on the completion of previous tasks. For example, roofing requires other aspects of construction to be completed.
The Lean Framework:
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This framework is as old as the assembly line, having been practiced during the manufacture of the Model T Ford. It was popularized, however, by Toyota and other Japanese manufacturers. The philosophy behind the Lean Framework is waste reduction.
This includes resource wastage, time wastage, and effort wastage. Once wastage is removed, processes become more efficient, and both productivity and profitability are maximized.
Common tasks required by the Lean Framework include cutting down on overproduction and overprocessing. It also mandates that the right tools should be used for each task. Communication for effective collaboration is another key tenet of the framework.
Why the Lean Methodology is Suited for Construction:
Waste is costly in the construction industry, especially for larger projects. There are also many moving parts in personnel and processes, and the Lean Framework is well suited for facilitating collaboration and efficiency.
The Critical Path Framework:
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The Critical Path Methodology is all about finding the right set of steps that need to be taken for a project to be completed successfully. To find this ‘critical path,’ the project is first broken down into its constituent tasks. Each task is then assessed regarding its resource needs, prerequisites, timelines, and personnel needs. Any dependencies and relationships between tasks also need to be established.
The Critical Path is then determined by finding the path that includes all the tasks required from the project’s start until its successful completion.
Resources and time are then allocated for each phase of the project. The cost estimate and timelines are then adjusted with any changes or challenges met during the project implementation.
Why the Critical Path Methodology is Suited for Construction:
It is the perfect framework for construction companies dealing with multiple concurrent projects as it excels in resource and personnel allocation. In addition, it includes some flexibility when it comes to responding to challenges.
The construction industry is very demanding when it comes to project management. Therefore, any methodology needs to accommodate multiple complex tasks, many of which are occurring concurrently. The Waterfall Methodology is well-suited because it was designed for the industry. The Lean Methodology is perfect for cutting down on wastage, and the Critical Path Framework is designed for construction companies that handle multiple concurrent projects.
Author Bio: Martin O’Callaghan wrote this article. He is with Wood Flooring Ireland. Martin has over two decades of experience in project management within the construction sector.