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Adopting agile processes for major infrastructure project delivery

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

Infrastructure project environments are both dynamic and complex-staying competitive in today’s global economy means infrastructure policy makers must deliver right infrastructure projects. Senior infrastructure project practitioners face changing project requirements, as well as tight budgets and fast turnaround demands from governments. Therefore, it is essential to optimise every aspect of an infrastructure project life cycle.

Traditional project delivery is a task driven and predictive; in other words, it assumes that circumstances affecting an infrastructure project are predictable. Agile project delivery, on the other hand, operates in a more fluid, more adaptive environment. Whilst the agile approach focusses on client value by improving processes to reduce waste and eliminate inefficiencies.

The application of agile principles can be used to drive out waste on major infrastructure projects. In order for agile principles to take root, senior infrastructure policy makers and project practitioners must first work to create a project culture that is receptive to agile thinking. Although infrastructure project delivery differs in many ways from manufacturing, there are also surprising similarities: teams must rely on multiple, complex processes to accomplish their tasks and provide value to the client.

Choosing the correct agile techniques ensures major infrastructure projects are well defined and structured. Choosing the wrong techniques, creates poor team integration, tension between project team members and allows inefficient project practices to flourish and reduces productivity. It is worth noting that through a constant cycle of learning and adaption of agile project team can produce value to the client, and learns to do so more and more effectively at each iteration.

Agile methodologies will challenge project practitioner’s assumptions about uncertainty and encourage them to embrace change and manage risk in an efficient way. Agile introduces an entirely new methodology for planning major infrastructure projects and introduces new ways of managing scope, schedule and cost. In the face of uncertainty, alliance between countries, acceleration and collaborative-style leadership have become significant new skills that will help policy makers and project practitioners deliver greater value to their nations.

By Edward O’Chieng

Author of the book “Major Infrastructure Projects: Planning for Delivery” (Red Globe Press, 2017)

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