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

This is an extensive article to discuss all agile approaches in both the software and construction industry. Agile has a proven record in software development, but it is yet to mark its significance in Capital Construction. 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 agile concepts 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 it is getting hype in the construction industry nowadays. In this article, we will try to cover both the Software and Construction Industry.

The agile strategy is compelling since regular appraisals enable the client to analyze the product while still emerging. Agile popularity over the more traditional Project Management – Waterfall Method is due, at least in part, to the client’s ability 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 are usable and add value. Be careful. It’s not like WBS, where you can not hand over that part to the customer.
  • Product Approval: The customer is involved when implementing this strategy and is aligned throughout the production phase. Hence, final acceptance is straightforward when it comes to Agile.
  • Client Involvement: As the Customer is there to buy in, clarity is for an end product. This definitely adds more value to reduced workload and a product that is more analogous to their overall specifications.
  • Continuous Feedback: Continuous improvement as Agile is very adaptive, which will surely increase the team’s overall productivity.
  • Team Building Approach: This is a great way of team development as an individual is not under stress for a long time as the client approves or suggests any improvement.
  • Fast Project Deployment: Consistent reviews and planning allow this strategy to speed up productivity and minimize 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 a lack of planning 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, you may not need an Agile strategy. This is mainly for the long-term and complex projects to avoid workload and efficiently shorten the time frame. 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 more efficiently by defining employee tasks clearly about 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 projects, the change of design is very costly in the later stage of the project. As in construction, all the tasks are done after one and the other or linearly. Hence you need to roll back all to make any change. This may lead to disaster in terms of cost, time, etc.

How to Use Agile | Construction Industry

As discussed earlier, the 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 of room to utilize this in Construction like below;

Agile in Pre-Design and Design Phases

  • Always welcome customers or clients 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 change this part, but the Agile strategy will still help divide the project into simpler chunks and invite buy-in from the client.

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

Agile Strategy in Construction | Pitfalls

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

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


It’s quite clear that implementing the exact “Agile” in Construction Industry as per definition is not logical as you can not hand over 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! Video


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

and Read What PMI® says about Agile Approach


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2 thoughts 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.

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