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Architecture and extreme project management – a match made by design

Last year when I was researching my blog post about extreme project management I discovered that it is a methodology often used in architecture. Since then, I’ve been really interested in the way project management is applied by architects as it wasn’t something that I thought would need project management – oh, how wrong was I?

Architectural project managers are normally found in larger practices, as in smaller organisations the tasks are generally incorporated into the project architect’s job. The project managers are involved in every facet of an architectural practice’s work and at all levels of the business. As well as the usual project management tasks like scheduling, budgeting and reporting architectural project managers typically:

  • Manage project, programme and construction risks
  • Manage the entire process from end to end, including design, planning, construction, handover and defect resolution
  • Engage and supervise vendors and contractors
  • Make recommendations on the award of contracts
  • Manage materials
  • Help the project team solve site issues
  • Work with planning departments
  • Write reports on project progress
  • Monitor master programmes to ensure there are no delays

Most have at least a degree in architecture as well as project management qualifications as it is a role that requires immense industry knowledge.

Some project managers confuse extreme programming with extreme project management and then wonder how that could possibly be used in the construction industry. After all, you can’t build a quarter of a building in a “sprint” and then stop the project. Although extreme project management borrows some of its principles from extreme programming, it is a very different beast.

Extreme project management is particularly useful in architecture because projects tend to follow the same, or similar, paths – after all there are only so many ways to create buildings.

Key components that lend themselves to the extreme methodology are:

  • Tasks can be re-used over and over again on multiple projects
  • Sponsors and customers are very heavily involved in all aspects of the projects, right from the beginning
  • Collective ownership of documents is encouraged, e.g. every team member is encouraged to change any aspect of project documentation
  • Prototypes are used to check consistency and adherence to standards

These components may well add value to your next project or you may even be doing some of this already. So have another look at extreme project management and you may just be pleasantly surprised.

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