What is an Agile Approach, Agile Pitfalls in Construction Industry?

This is an extensive article to discuss all agile approach in both software and construction industry. Agile has a proven record in software development kind project but in Capital Construction it yet to mark its significance. Let’s together review what is the Agile fuss is all about.

What is an Agile Project Strategy?

According to PMI®, one of the major concepts of agile is to deliver “usable” outputs from each sprint, providing a return of investment to the organization and the customer.

A sprint is a time period when performance is appraised and a single project has several discrete periods. A sprint is usually allowed in one to four weeks.

Now make sure, it’s usable output not to confuse with WBS – Work breakdown structure in a capital construction industry where you divide a project into small “chunks”.

Agile was very successful in software type products but nowadays it is getting hype in the construction industry as well. In this article, we will try to cover both Software and Construction Industry.

The agile strategy is very powerful since regular appraisals enable the client to analyze the product while it is still emerging. Agile popularity over the more traditional Project Management – Waterfall Method is due, at least in part, to the ability of the client to participate in product creation.

You can Read more about Lean Project Management

Key Features of Agile

Here are some basics of Agile Project Management that need to be clarified before dig-in further;

  • A base of Agile: Project is always broken down into chunks that is usable and add value. Be careful it’s not like WBS where you can not hand over that part to the customer.
  • Product Approval: Customer is much involved when implementing this strategy and is aligned throughout the production phase. Hence, final acceptance is very easy when it comes to Agile.
  • Client Involvement: As Customer is there to buy-in, hence clarity is for an end product. This definitely adds more value in the form of reduced workload and a product which is more analogous to their specifications overall.
  • Continuous Feedback: Continuous improvement as Agile is very adaptive in a term that will surely increase the overall productivity of the team.
  • Team Building Approach: Great way of team development as an individual is not under stress for a long time as client approves or suggest any improvement on time.
  • Fast Project Deployment: Consistent reviews and planning allows this strategy to speed-up productivity and minimizes the number of revisions. The Agile project management strategy always results in a shorter deployment timescale, fewer errors, fewer revisions, and higher customer satisfaction.

Customers are quite clear nowadays about the product they want but there is always lack to plan in advance everything if the project is a bit complex and hence the traditional methods may end up in an undesired result. However, if the scope document for a small & simple project is already nicely done then you may not need Agile strategy this is mainly for a long term and complex projects to avoid workload and shorten the time frame in an efficient manner. However, this approach often results in problems as a client is unlikely to have been able to foresee every detail of what is essentially an extremely complex process even for a small project.

The agile strategy allows an organization to perform in a more efficient manner by defining employee tasks quite clearly in relation to a customer changing project provisions. Therefore, it avoids missed deadlines, unnecessary workload, these factors can paralyze an organization.

The significance of Agile on Construction Projects

On capital construction project the change of design or any kind is very costly in the later stage of the project. As in construction, all the tasks are done after one and other or in a linear manner, hence you need to roll-back all to make any change. This may lead to disaster in term of cost, time, etc.

How to Use Agile | Construction Industry

As discussed earlier, Agile strategy is basically done and dusted in a software development project where to change or roll-back any part is through coding and decoding only. In this perspective, we have a bit room to utilize this in Construction like below;

Agile in Pre-Design and Design Phases

  • Always welcome customer or client to buy-in during this phase if you wish to apply Agile or not. Here, you can apply all the Agile sprints that will help you go through successfully.
  • It will ultimately help to estimate costs, time ineffective and confident manner.
  • Pilot units may be visualized to get more ideas and have input from all the stakeholders.

Agile in Execution Phase

This is really tough to make any change in this part but still, the Agile strategy will help to divide the project into more simpler chunks and invite the buy-in from the client.

The agile strategy will help for continual improvement making things easy to complete faster and efficient.

Agile Strategy in Construction | Pitfalls

Agile scope in Construction management is not that brilliant as in a software development project but still, it helps wherever applicable. Following are major issues needs to be addressed while thinking in Agile strategy on a capital construction project.

  1. Not as adaptive to change during execution phase – as cost changes exponentially as project progress
  2. Integrated meetings are required rather than sharing data electronically as in Software development Project.
  3. A core principle of Agile is not piece by piece but it is incremental pieces that add value to the customer and is released from contractor to customer.
  4. Labour cost increases always from the baseline plan whenever delays occur. They say – It needs the right peoples, at the right location, with the right material, equipment and tools, and with right instructions.


It’s quite clear that to implement exact “Agile” in Construction Industry as per definition is not logical as you can not handover chunks to a customer. But the Agile approach is somewhat helpful. Waterfall management is also adaptive but not as iterative as a software development project.

Thanks for visiting and Comment below your thoughts.

More Thoughts!

Before you go make sure to listen to this Young man Agile in Construction Management 

and Read What PMI® says about Agile Approach

1 thought on “What is an Agile Approach, Agile Pitfalls in Construction Industry?”

  1. Agile is not easy to understand for me but you literally nailed it. Thank you & much-appreciated mate.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *