Construction projects are becoming more complex, making delivering them on time and to budget much tougher. Project management discipline is evolving to meet these challenges, taking on new methods and exploring how technology can help.
We’ve picked out five trends project managers will have to adapt to, if they want to stay ahead of the industry’s growing complexity.
Agile is a project management method that shows just how influential the technology sector has become. Born out of software development, the Agile approach accepts things change and focuses efforts on finding a way to move a project forward successfully. Its advocates say it is not about being systematic anymore, it’s about being dynamic. Plenty of education will be needed for the new approach to gain acceptance in the industry, but the benefits – saving time and money – could be worth it. According to those who’ve tried it, a crucial step is encouraging all team members to put ideas forward. The result can unleash innovative ideas right at the time when a project needs them most.
2. Digitisation and the road to Construction 4.0
Construction, a bit unfairly, can be accused of lagging behind other industries in adopting new technology. But as margins get smaller, it will take innovative thinking to make a profit from limited project budgets. This could push construction businesses to turn to technology to run projects more efficiently and with less labour.
Making the move to digital technologies will take serious expertise. This is especially true for successful implementation, but there are other risks too. A shift to more digital workflows will expose construction businesses to the cyber security risks currently worrying banks, retailers and social media firms. A good understanding of all the issues will be vital before taking the first steps.
3. Internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) combine
The convergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) in small devices could change the life of a project manager. Project managers need to be prepping for when each piece of equipment on site will report direct to them. Some plug-in tech may be applied to existing assets, others may work with bolt-on solutions. Either way, more data will be heading to project managers soon. If they can analyse it effectively with AI, they’ll cut the capital costs of their company’s asset base. They’ll also bring new levels of precision to the operation of those same assets.
4. Risk management analysis
With improved information from a project site comes the opportunity to make detailed risk assessments and spot potential problems early. The hard part will be analysing all the information quickly enough to use in effective decision making.
The use of so-called big-data techniques is relatively new, especially in the construction sector. Consequently, there is plenty of work to be done in figuring out how to bring the different elements together into one effective method. The firms that get it right first can expect to see significant benefits, which hinge around their potential to deliver cost savings.
5. Real-time project management
When all the potential of technology is brought together, the possibility of achieving real time project management emerges. This means knowing every detail of each moving part, fixed asset, batch of materials and even the teams doing the work.
Real time project management can be achieved by using fixed cameras, or drones, to provide the images needed to connect with the data and pinpoint where everything is. The results of this real-time input could update plans and details as projects progress, create regular reports to keep people informed of progress and help manage site schedules. The cost-saving potential of the technology makes real-time project management a future people are ready to see now.
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