The typical construction project follows a plain and very basic procedure or lifecycle. The project owner or client plans and determines the scope of the project based on his budget and on the identified project needs and preferences. He then invites bids from prospective contractors and all other building and construction professionals like architects and engineers. The owner vets and proceeds to choose a viable contractor to handle the project. The project design and building plans are laid out, money changes hands for materials, labor and other expenses, and then the construction process begins. The contractor may get additional help from subcontractors. No problem. Provided that at the end of the agreed period the client is handed over the desired structure or infrastructure and then the contract is closed.
This sounds quite straightforward with no room for errors, delays or any imaginable problems. Well, the truth is that in the real world, things do not run like a clock. Derailing factors, hitches, unforeseen delays, and many other impediments are much more common than the planned activities. And this happens in all types of undertakings. Whether it’s a modest Greenwood asphalt striping contract or a large-scale government-funded infrastructural installation, problems can arise.
To counter these unforeseen but expected operational setbacks, building and construction professionals have come up with some dynamic project management methodologies. Matter-of-factly, these processes are not exclusively used in construction work alone. They are versatile approaches that can be modified and customized for application in a myriad of industries. All the same, they are featured here contextually.
Lean Construction Management
Under this approach, everyone involved in the project contributes all his mental resources to the project management process. Hierarchies are broken down and teamwork encouraged across the board such that all essential players collaborate to optimize value delivery and reduce resource wastage over time. The emphasis here is on process optimization rather than schedules and dates and everyone is held accountable for the success or failure of the project.
Systemic and systematic process management tools like the work breakdown structure (WBS) are used to standardize workflow. All participants are equally rewarded or punished at the end of the project. Lean construction management just like lean manufacturing is very effective when the project is facing financial constraints or otherwise.
Agile Construction Management
This is another dynamic approach to project management. It is used to adapt the project at any development or implementation stage or phase to suit changing client demands. The project contractor or manager is expected to improvise and create time critical solutions to solve all kinds of unprecedented alterations or adjustments. Effective time management is very vital in order to ensure optimal productivity and profitability as the project progresses. To achieve this, construction managers are forced to team up with the whole crew to brainstorm cheaper and faster ways of fulfilling the client’s demands.
This is also called the traditional project management approach because it is the oldest and most commonly used. It features a comprehensive planning and scheduling phase where all the project milestones are determined and clearly defined. The project implementation process is strictly managed according to set schedules and expected deliverables. Everything is organized systematically and the whole process runs sequentially according to a clearly defined timeline in line with the client’s demands.
Critical Path Method (CPM)
The critical path methodology starts with the establishment of the shortest possible timeline for completing the project. Also called the critical chain method, this approach is suitable for solving resource constraint issues. Instead of focusing on schedules and tasks to realize project success like the waterfall method, the CPM factors in all possible hitches that might cause resource constraints and all these are factored in the calculation for the shortest or minimum timeline possible. It comes across as the most realistic and feasible project management methodology.