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A construction project involves several contractors and service providers, which results in inevitable complexities throughout the project. With that many elements and variables coming together, it is crucial to have a well-orchestrated plan in place to bind the different aspects of the project. This is where project management comes into the picture.

Project management is one of the aspects of construction that is often overlooked and underestimated. Construction project management is the process of managing construction projects; it is at the crux for ensuring the smooth flow of a construction project.

It not only deals with the technical facets of estimation and execution but also requires a people component so that the project managers can work with the individual needs of the builders, stakeholders, and community.

However, construction project management is not based on a constant formula that would apply to all projects. Managers and supervisors choose the best practices for a project based on a specific job site.

We have narrowed down the most popular project management approaches in the construction industry that continue to be favorites regardless of time, distance, or requirements.

1. Waterfall Project Management

Also known as traditional project management, the waterfall is the most common form of construction project management techniques. This technique involves setting clear milestones between each task, with set due dates, deliverables, and client expectations organized on a clear timeline.

It is based on the concept that the process should flow like an actual waterfall, i.e., each stage or phase should be completed in its entirety before moving on to the next one. For instance, all the requirements for a building must be completed first before beginning its design phase.

Aspects of Waterfall Project Management
Waterfall Project Management
Image Courtesy: Smartsheet

This technique allows the team to focus on each aspect of the project with their undivided attention, allowing developers to ensure high-quality work at each stage and can ensure compatibility during implementation.
One drawback of this methodology is that it keeps the entire team occupied on a single task at a time, which could extend deadlines if used excessively. It can also inhibit customer input and feedback throughout the completion process.

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2. Agile Project Management

Agile project management focuses on adaptability and flexibility. It may incorporate learnings of other management approaches, but agile projects are open to shifting from one management style to another if that’s what it takes to get the job done. Agile construction management applies the flexibility of agile software development to construction.

Agile development cycle
Agile Management Cycle
Image Courtesy: Smartsheet

The characteristics of agile construction management include:

  • Dividing the project into smaller and more manageable segments to ensure better management and tracking of different phases.
  • Working with a focus on time management and investing in frequent reviews for better financial management, especially for improving productivity and profitability.
  • Being open to continuous improvement by encouraging employees to work together and forwarding their inputs and suggestions to construction managers.

The agile technique can be seen as a multiple waterfall method of development, which allows one to be both active and reactive in the development methods. It allows the team to develop what the client wants and, at the same time, also working on the next step of development, all while receiving constant feedback to ensure a quality product.

3. Lean Project Management

Lean project management emphasizes on arranging the supply chain in a way to prevent any hiccups mid-way when working on production. It focuses on improving the process of the entire project instead of looking at a job microscopically to identify waste areas.

Aspects of lean project management

The construction managers balance the stipulations of the project based on its demands. All aspects of the project are monitored, analyzed, and enhanced. The managers encourage frequent face-to-face communication for improved communication within the teams. When determining the specifics of a job, they respect the customer’s perspective and take an iterative approach to their work processes to continually eliminate waste.

Though lean project management comes with its own set of benefits, it could also be problematic in some ways. As it is not the most straightforward management approach, it demands a lot of time and patience, and sometimes a rather significant investment of both money and training time to get it off the ground.

4. Critical Path Project Management

This style of project management recognizes significant tasks as part of a larger chain. The project manager can tell which works need to be completed, and by what time, and what all hurdles are anticipated during completion.

The system makes it easier to guarantee productivity and efficiency. However, a downside of the technique is that it imitates the chain mentioned above. If one link of the chain falls, the rest of the chain is bound to collapse. Therefore, it lacks the flexibility and adaptability of some of the other project management approaches discussed above.

Which Project Management Approach is Right for You?

Every construction project is unique and distinct, and no two projects will be alike even if they come from the same blueprint. Therefore, each project should be evaluated by construction management supervisors to determine the best approach to tackle the anticipated problems.


Certain projects which are likely to experience last-minute changes will work best under an agile approach, but the key is to ensure that you the right team with the required expertise. Jobs that give a higher priority to quality over deadlines will benefit from a lean model, while the ones regarding construction efficiency as the most crucial component will thrive under the waterfall or critical path systems.

Santoshi M

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