Agile project management in the design stage – Construction projects possibilities to apply agile methods

University essay from KTH/Fastigheter och byggande; KTH/Fastigheter och byggande

Abstract:

The construction industry has a clear process it follows therefore the working method within it also has become rigid. Through long time the stage-gate model has been used by the project management. Construction projects are often complex, have long stages and long decisions routes. When a stage is completed questions have been raised and lead to that change is needed to be made before moving on to next stage. This takes time, costs more than calculated and the function gets compromised. The purpose with this thesis is to investigate if the current project management approach can be performed more efficiently by applying agile project management to the design stage.

This thesis is performed with a qualitative research approach. It started with a thoroughly literature review of relevant topics such as agile project management, the construction process and change management. When a solid base of knowledge was gathered about the research area an interview study was conducted and a survey was sent out. The findings are a result from the interview study and the survey. The interview questions and findings are divided into four focus areas of agile project management which are project planning, meeting structure, group collaboration and communication. The discussion connects the literature with the information from the interviews and the discussion is presented with the reflections from the authors. The conclusions present the answers on the research questions. The final chapter about further research is presenting perspectives that have not been answered in this thesis.

The thesis concludes that project management methods within construction projects are not as rigid as it is described in the literature. The lack of knowledge and awareness of other working methods creates a culture of "this is how it always has been done" within the four focus areas of agile project management. All of the reference projects were time pressured and it was in those situations where ii

most tendencies to adjust management method was shown. The studied projects had fixed meeting structures and when emergency occurred, extra meetings were held. The project management teams had good collaboration due to that they were co-located and not too big groups. The co-location also facilitated the communication which was compared to team members that were not co-located and struggled with the communication. The communication generally worked well vertically and was struggling horizontally.

Agile project management cannot be achieved to 100% and it is difficult to apply all of its characteristics on the construction industry since it was developed from the software industry which has other traits than construction. On the other hand, agile project management is a mindset of continuously improvement and flexibility of the used working methods which can be used by the construction industry. The construction industry has to follow some specific processes such as applying for building permits and is affected by political decisions. Therefore the current project management methods are restricted to follow certain frameworks. The framework is hard to change though it leaves space for changed methods and attitudes within the framework and the design stage. All types of construction projects can use the agile mindset and it is important that the whole organization relates to the agile mindset to achieve greatest outcome. Steps towards agile can be done in current projects by emphasis more on reconciliations and let the projects progression decide the meeting structure.

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