The Most Effective Project Management Methodology for Construction

most effective project management methodology

Choosing the most effective project management methodology depends on several factors.

  • Project scope
  • Size and complexity
  • Available resources
  • The project goals
  • Skills and experience of the project team
  • Project delivery method
  • Project environment

For instance, if you’re building a house with a small framing crew, a finish carpenter, and a few subcontractors, you need a simple methodology that’s fast and efficient.

However, suppose you’re building a skyscraper or constructing a large capital project with a multi-year timeline and collaborating with over thirty subcontractors, suppliers, and specialty contractors. In that case, you’ll need a very structured and controlled methodology.

What is a project management methodology?

Project management methodology is a framework construction project managers use to plan, execute, monitor, and control the outcomes of construction projects.

There are many different project management methodologies, possibly thousands. And each methodology has its strengths and weaknesses.

The most popular project management methodologies for construction include

Some methods work best for small teams, while others are better suited for larger teams with more experience working together.

Additionally, some methodologies are better suited for fixed-price contracts, while others are best for negotiated agreements where price adjustments may occur during the execution phase of the contract.

A good project manager will be familiar with multiple project management methodologies and be able to adapt to the changing demands of an ever-evolving construction industry.


Project management methodology vs. project delivery method: What’s the difference?

Project management methodology is the framework that guides how a project is planned, initiated, executed, monitored, and controlled. Project delivery methods are the specific contractual model owners, and developers use to organize, finance, and execute their built assets’ design, construction, and maintenance services.

Typical project delivery methods include

  • Design-Bid-Build,
  • Design-Build,
  • Construction Manager at Risk
  • Construction Management Multi-Prime,
  • Job Order Contracting (JOC), also known as IDIQ, and finally
  • Integrated Project Delivery.

Most project management methods can accommodate most delivery methods but not always.

The best project management approach depends on the nature of the project, the preferences of the client/owner, the contractual model, and the experience of the project team.

Ultimately, what matters most is that the chosen methodology and delivery method are well-suited to each other and the specific needs of the construction project.

The most effective project management methodology for construction

Of the many different project management methodologies suitable for construction work, these six have proven the most effective.

But before selecting a method, construction managers must carefully consider their project’s environment, the skills and experience of their project team, and the project’s deliverables, budget, and timeline.

What is Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) methodology? 

AWP is a collaborative system combining engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC). 

In AWP, the engineering teams work with procurement and contracting teams to decompose their projects during the design phase. The teams break down each task into tightly defined work areas and work packages within those work areas. 

These engineered work packages (EWPs) include detailed plans and specs for each construction discipline assigned to the work area, from foundations through finishes.

CWPs, or Construction Work Packages, build on the EWPs by calculating the budget, schedule, resources, tools, and safety constraints required to complete the work within each package.

Installation Work Packages, or IWPs, represent blocks of 500 to 1,000 hours of total labor time. Each block of time in an IWP is discipline-specific and includes documentation and sequencing that guides, supports, and directs the work teams in the field during their assigned blocks of time.  

But what makes AWP so effective is that instead of breaking down the work after the project has been let as traditional project management methods often do, the work breakdown process begins with the design phase.

The results of the Advanced Work Packaging project management methodology 

Advanced Work Packaging has proven successful in mega-projects, industrial projects, and large-scale capital projects. Still, it isn’t used widely in other sectors, which is unfortunate.

The Advanced Work Packaging methodology can increase productivity by up to 25%, reduce project delivery costs by 10%, and reduce job-related injuries by 88% or more.

Learn more about Advanced Work Packaging

The Construction Industry Institute (CII) is the creative force behind the Advanced Work Packaging system and provides resources, training, and support.

Many of the Construction Industry Institute’s resources are free, but membership offers further training and advanced business and professional development opportunities.

What is the Critical Path Method (CPM)?

The Critical Path Method (CPM) is a robust project management methodology for analyzing, planning, and scheduling large, complex projects. 

The Critical Path Method (CPM) ‘s basic philosophy is that all project tasks are interdependent, but some are critical and must follow a specific sequence to complete the project on time. 

CPM provides a framework to determine which of the project’s interdependent tasks are “critical” in their effect on total project time and how best to schedule those tasks to meet a target date while minimizing cost.

The critical path method (CPM) is often used in conjunction with other methodologies because it helps project managers create an actionable schedule that identifies the sequence of critical tasks and milestones.

By completing critical tasks and milestones in series, project managers increase the likelihood of finishing their projects on time.

Are there any limitations to using the critical path?

The critical path method (CPM) can be challenging to set up and requires diligence to manage and maintain. 

Furthermore, if the CPM schedule has inaccurate task and time estimates, the CPM schedule will not be accurate either. And the CPM cannot account for the impact of changes such as RFIs, RFPs, design changes, change orders, labor disputes, and instances when tasks take longer than anticipated.

What are the benefits of the Critical Path project methodology?

Delays are inevitable, but a well-structured  CPM schedule gives project managers clear insight into where the project schedule can flex or be accelerated when delays occur.

By shifting resources from non-critical work to critical tasks, project managers can accelerate work to compensate for lost time. 

CPM is a highly visual approach to project management that relies on several visual performance management (VPM) tools. 

VPM tools have proven invaluable for analyzing project performance and giving stakeholders the insight required to address issues and potential problems quickly and efficiently. 

  1. CPM creates a clear visual representation of the project schedule and helps stakeholders better understand the timeline and workflow of the project.
  2. It helps to identify potential issues early, which can help to keep the project on track and within budget.
  3. CPM enables project managers to focus time and resources on essential tasks to ensure critical on-time task completion.
  4. The Critical Path Methodology provides a solid framework for monitoring and reporting progress to stakeholders.
  5. It simplifies the communication process between project team members by providing clear direction and purpose, which project stakeholders can easily understand.

Identifying critical activities is vital to project success because they directly affect the project schedule. Any delay in critical activities also delays the schedule.

For those reasons, the Critical Path Method is a highly effective project management methodology.


What is the Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) method?

The Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) methodology focuses on efficiently using resources to complete a project on time. 

CCPM relies on the theory of constraints, which states that the weakest link of any system limits the system. To overcome this limitation, CCPM uses buffer management and resource leveling to complete more projects on time.

What are the key concepts of CCPM?

Buffer Management

Buffer management is a key concept in CCPM.

Buffers protect against unexpected events that could cause a delay in the project.

There are three types of buffers used in CCPM:

  • Project buffer: protects against unexpected events that could cause the project to be delayed
  • Feeding buffer: protects against delays in upstream tasks that could cause the downstream tasks to be delayed
  • Resource buffer: protects against unexpected resource delays that could stall the project

Task Dependencies

CCPM identifies task dependencies with a precedence diagram, just like the network diagram in the CPM methodology.

Resource Leveling

Resource leveling ensures that resources are allocated efficiently for each task and project in the company’s portfolio.

Benefits of the Critical Chain Project Management methodology

The benefits of CCPM include improved deliverables, reduced risk, and improved project management. 

CCPM can lead to enhanced project deliverables by reducing waste and rework. It can also help to ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget.

Additionally, CCPM helps to minimize the risk associated with a project by mitigating risks related to unexpected events.

What is the Lean project management method?

Lean project management emphasizes the continuous improvement of processes to increase efficiency and reduce waste. 

Various industries have successfully applied Lean principles, including construction, healthcare, and manufacturing. In the construction industry, Lean focuses on streamlining work processes, reducing waste, and increasing efficiency.

What’s the difference between Lean, Six Sigma, and Agile approaches?

Lean project management is often confused with other approaches, such as Six Sigma and Agile. While these methods share some similarities, they are significant differences. 

Here are some critical distinctions between Lean, Six Sigma, and Agile:

  • Lean: The focus is on increasing efficiency and reducing waste. The goal is to deliver maximum value to customers through continuous improvement.
  • Six Sigma: The focus is on reducing defects. The goal is to achieve near-perfection in all aspects of the project.
  • Agile: The focus is on flexibility and responding to change. The goal is to deliver the product incrementally in short cycles.

Each of these approaches has its unique advantages and disadvantages. Construction project managers should understand each approach to choose the best methodology for each project.

The philosophy of continuous improvement

Continuous improvement is central to the Lean process. 

Continuous improvement means making small, incremental changes to improve quality and efficiency. The goal is to identify problems early and make corrections before they cause significant issues.

Lean project management tools and techniques

Lean project management relies on various tools and techniques, such as value stream mapping, 5S audits, and Kaizen events. 

These visual process management tools help construction project managers streamline processes, reduce waste, and increase efficiency.

Streamlining project phases

One of the benefits of Lean project management is that it streamlines project phases. 

Traditional project management focuses on completing project phases sequentially. However, in Lean project management, project teams look for opportunities to work on activities in parallel to save time. 

Reducing waste

Another benefit of Lean project management is that it focuses on waste reduction. 

Waste can take many forms in a construction project, including material waste, motion waste, waiting time, and overproduction. Lean project management helps to identify and eliminate waste to improve time and resource management.

Increasing efficiency

A final benefit of Lean project management is that it can help to increase efficiency. 

By streamlining processes and eliminating waste, Lean project management can reduce wasted movement, resources, and effort, increasing efficiency.

Learn more about Lean project management methodology

The Lean Construction Institute (LCI) provides tested and reliable guidance for learning and implementing lean project management principles on the construction site.

LCI’s Last Planner System® (LPS®) encompasses the entire project, from the Master Schedule down to project commissioning and final handoff. See for more information.

Is the PMBOK Guide a project management methodology?

The Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a trusted and reliable industry resource, but it is not a project management methodology.

Instead, the PMBOK is a set of guidelines, standards, process groups, and knowledge areas written by certified and established project managers from various industries and published by the Project Management Institute (PMI). 

The PMBOK Guide and its supplemental materials provide project managers with a knowledge base and actionable framework to organize and manage their work to ensure successful project outcomes. 

The PMBOK methodology focuses on ten knowledge areas and five process groups.

What are the 10 PMBOK knowledge areas?

Each of the 10 PMBOK knowledge areas contains several processes. These processes guide one or more of the five process groups (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing).

  1. Project Integration Management
  2. Scope Management
  3. Time Management
  4. Cost Management
  5. Quality Management
  6. Procurement Management
  7. Human Resource Management
  8. Communication Management
  9. Risk Management
  10. Stakeholder Management

The ten knowledge areas and five process groups provide a strong matrix structure that guides and informs project management teams in project management best practices.  

What are the five project management process groups?

  1. Initiating: Set the project’s objectives, define the project’s scope, and obtain resources. 
  2. Planning: Develop the project plan, budget, schedule, quality plan, risk management plan, and organizational structure
  3. Executing: Manage the resources and work activities to complete the project plan.
  4. Monitoring and controlling: Track progress and make adjustments as needed.
  5. Closing: Initiate, test, and commission all project systems and formally hand over the asset.

These five process groups are the basis for all project management activities. And each process group has a set of processes describing the actions necessary to complete a project successfully. 

The PMBOK serves as the standard for project management excellence and is the primary resource for Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and Project Management Professional (PMP) certifications.


What is The Waterfall Method?

The Waterfall Method is a linear, sequential approach to planning, scheduling, and project execution and may be the most common project management strategy for construction projects. 

The Waterfall Method gets its name from how each project phase cascades into the next. Waterfall methodology works best for projects with a fixed, finished product built from detailed plans requiring a single timeline. 

What are the tools used in the waterfall project management methodology?

The Waterfall Method relies on Gantt charts, network diagrams, and Critical Path Schedules to visually represent the project timeline and to track progress. 

These tools also help identify dependencies between tasks and resources and provide insight into potential risks and areas of improvement.

Changes are costly and discouraged in construction, so the Waterfall Method relies on strict project deadlines and achieving sequential milestones to keep the project on track.

What are the benefits of The Waterfall Method?

One of the many benefits of the Waterfall Method is that it follows an established, predictable, and repeatable process.

That means templated processes from one project can be used on similar projects in the future.

  • Structured planning: The waterfall method provides a step-by-step structure for project planning and execution. 
  • Risk management: The waterfall approach helps identify and plan for potential risks before work begins. 
  • Cost control: Project managers can keep a tight rein on their budgets by clearly specifying tasks and associated costs in the project plan.
  • Effective communication: The waterfall method enables project managers to communicate project plans, goals, and tasks to other teams through a documented communication plan. 
  • Detailed documentation: The waterfall methodology encourages detailed project plans and process documentation. 
  • Efficient project management: With well-defined steps, the waterfall approach discourages adjustments.
  • Easy to understand: The simple steps in the waterfall methodology make it easy to understand and explain to others.

Which project management methodology is best for construction?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question–it depends on the specific project and what will work best for the team.

  • Contractual requirements
  • Project complexity
  • Project duration
  • Team size and experience

Construction Project Management Software for the Construction Industry

Successful construction professionals stay on top of every aspect of their projects, from initiation through closeout. 

Construction project management software streamlines these complex processes, manages task-based workflows, and allows seamless communication for a successful project. 

Get a custom demonstration of the Linarc construction management system today—the intelligent, intuitive, easy-to-use tool that simplifies the complexity of today’s projects.

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