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Evaluating the Impact of Using Agile Methodologies in Heavy-Civil Construction Open Access

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Due to a lack of actual data-based research, industry-wide implementation of agile methodologies on heavy-civil construction projects is lacking, leading to management and performance issues that cause inefficient project delivery. As acknowledged by F. Ribeiro (2010), “Despite the amount of research work on agile concepts and the methods proposed by several authors, there is a striking absence of real applications of those concepts and models in the construction industry. Most of the publications highlight the theoretical aspects of agility without relating to specific real-world organizational environments.” (p. 167).Heavy-Civil Construction focuses on highways, roads, bridges, tunnels, underground utilities, and other large public works projects. Such work can be new construction, replacement, maintenance, repair, and improvements for use by the general public. With this comes a set of unique challenges, requiring an extremely focused and skilled management team. Issues involving cost, schedule, quality, and safety are most important and steps are typically taken to minimize problems relating to these using a waterfall management approach to build the job. The common theory is that the introduction of agile methodologies would have a positive effect on the efficiency of these projects for all involved (Mendez, 2018).Various references believe that by implementing agile methodologies on heavy-civil construction projects, the construction team has a better chance for a successful build by minimizing issues relating to the Key Performance Indicators of cost, schedule, quality, and safety (Owen & Koskela, 2007). The following quote by F. Ribeiro (2010) also sums the beliefs referenced; “It is assessed that agile methods offer considerable potential for application in construction and that there are significant hurdles to its adoption in the actual phase. Should these be overcome, agile methods offer benefits well beyond any individual company.” (p.174). After reviewing cost and incident data for 40 projects that utilized the waterfall approach of project management and comparing them to 40 projects that implemented agile methodologies, there is evidence to support a sound conclusion. This study shows both quantitatively and qualitatively that there is an improvement in project performance and overall success on those projects analyzed herein that utilized agile methods, thus presenting evidence to support the existing theories.

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