Agile Project Management for Architecture and Engineering: Creating Alignment

About the author: Don Archibeque is a Project Executive with Planifi, bringing more than 25 years of experience in construction and A/E (architecture and engineering) Project Management, as well as associated professional managerial services.

Across the Architecture and Engineering (A/E) industry, effective project management is a proven element for firm-wide efficiency and profitability. Architecture and Engineering firms that implement agile project management practices consistently realize higher profits and deliver more successful projects. Project management professionals define successful project delivery as both completing the project on time and within budget, but also satisfying client expectations.

First, what is “Agile?”

Agile started in the software development world in the 1990s. This was in response to rapidly changing technological capabilities and ensuing disruptions to project delivery. (Sound familiar?) Over the past 25 years, Agile has become the method for managing software development teams. With the success of this approach in tech, Agile has steadily found adoption in other industries as well.

So, how can your firm implement agile project management and start delivering more successful projects?

Start off by aligning to crystal clear expectations with the client. Ask three simple questions:

  1. What is the scope of work?
  2. What did we propose?
  3. What are the time constraints?

Creating alignment in a fast-paced and dynamic project environment — often with geographically dispersed, culturally diverse teams – can be challenging. However, when leaders and team members work together, you can create alignment and start on the path to more successful projects!

Communication

First, you must create an environment that encourages quality communication and being open to new ideas.

Project Managers handle many diverse and ever-changing variables in today’s project environment. Project teams, culture, and the projects themselves are evolving. Today’s project teams, in particular, are better served by more facilitation, coaching, and mentoring—behavior that supports the attributes necessary for Agile.

Solid principles to consider:

  1. Consistent traceability of practice to purpose. This assures integrity of your words and actions.  
  2. Accountability to each other and your teams. Set goals and achieve them 1-by-1. You wouldn’t let your team down.
  3. Practice what you preach and preach what you value. Teams observe their leaders and follow accordingly.

Alignment

Alignment (between project team and client) is critical to consistent, successful project delivery. By answering the three questions above, you should have a clear understanding of:

  1. What did the client buy?
  2. What is your team expected to produce, when?

Alignment on these two factors serves as the foundation for successful project delivery. Accountability, communication, and implementation are the pillars built upon that foundation. Clarity of project definition, absolute clarity of purpose is what holds it all together. If you can’t answer the “why,” then you shouldn’t be doing the project.

Wrap-up

Let’s bring it all together. First, “Agile” is a project delivery method designed to work in a dynamic, fast-changing environment. For Agile to work in A/E, we must answer three questions to work towards Alignment between project team and client. Lastly, Alignment requires an environment that prioritizes quality communication and clarity of purpose.

Set a calendar reminder for TWO WEEKS and come back for our next article on Agile in A/E. We’ll take a deep dive into the differences between Traditional Project Delivery and Agile Project Delivery in A/E.

Learn how Planifi can help your firm with consistent, project delivery – schedule a call.

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