Last edited 08 Apr 2021

Agile construction

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In general, the term ‘agile’ means the ability to move swiftly and with ease. In construction, it can be used to describe items of plant that are specified for certain tasks due to being particularly capable of operating quickly and easily.

It can also be used in relation to agile infrastructure, which is infrastructure that is responsive and can adapt to the changing needs of the user.

More specifically though, agile can relate to a method of project management, often known as ‘Agile construction’. This is a process developed from agile manufacturing and project management, particularly that developed by the Toyota Production System, and applied to construction with the intention of dividing tasks and activities into short work phases, allowing productivity to be measured and improved. Agile construction techniques include prefabrication and supply chain management.

Agile construction utilises real-time input from the source of the work information to measure productivity and provide feedback. This allows for changes to be made each time the process is repeated to improve upon it and remove the elements that are inefficient, unproductive or wasteful. This means that a contractor is able to rapidly adapt to changes both on- and off-site, increase accuracy, and ultimately provide better value to the client.

Agile thinking tends to be innovative, responsive and flexible and focusses on delivering value. It is a positive mindset that does not condemn failure but uses it to generate feedback.

NB Inclusive design in essential services. A practical guide for firms and suppliers, written by Bailey Kursar for the Money Advice Trust and Fair By Design and published in 2021, suggests: ‘The concept of Agile development encompasses an adaptable, collaborative and iterative way of planning, developing and delivering work. It was popularised by the Manifesto for Agile Software Development

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