A/E Agile Project Manifesto

Posted on: 06/05/19
Written by: Don Archibeque

Agile3_052819If you’re part of an architecture or engineering (A/E) firm leadership team, we need to talk for a second. Whether you want to or not, you own the critical responsibility of developing your firm’s next generation of leaders and project managers.

Effective A/E project management is a great way to start preparing younger architects and engineers for tomorrow’s leadership challenges. Today’s teams are better served by more facilitation, coaching, and mentoring—behavior that supports all the attributes necessary for Agile A/E Project Management.

Today’s environment is defined by the rapid pace of change in design technology, firm growth, geographically dispersed teams, and evolving cultural values. With so much change, we can only begin to imagine what challenges tomorrow will bring. However, regardless of industry, the following values help A/E firms thrive:

  1. Goals and Purpose over rules and processes

  2. Utilize Human Potential over conformity to preconceived outcomes

  3. Compassionate Courage over convenient complacency

  4. Practice and Progress over preaching perfection

  5. Focus on the Environment over controlling behaviors

  6. Recognize the uncertain nature of the environment in which we lead. Adapt to change while maintaining the goal.

  7. Encourage curious exploration and reflective experience that enables teams to leverage possibilities

  8. Approach new challenges with a sense of adventure and hope.

  9. Respect your employees. Help them build self-esteem and respectful self-confidence.

  10. Create an environment that fosters open and honest communication.

These ten principles will help your firm increase profitability, deliver more successful projects, and encourage your employees to develop innovative solutions to tough problems. Most importantly, though, they will help your teams better serve your clients.

Trust & Self-Directed Work Teams
Your architects and engineers want to do good work. When set to a task and given the freedom to deliver a solution, they will come up with ideas that will save your firm money and distinguish you from competition. Now, that doesn’t mean blind faith. You need to provide guidance and stay within the bounds of the project scope and budget. However, enabling and trusting your project team is better than micromanaging ten times out of ten.

How do you, as a member of leadership, provide guidance to every project team while still getting work done?

Data. Accessible and accurate data is required for successful self-directed work teams. Senior leadership can’t micromanage anymore, there simply isn’t enough time in the day. With agile A/E project management, you rely on a burndown chart. This provides everyone with a single source for performance and says, “we need to deliver a solution, here’s what we have left to make that happen.” Data helps leadership and project teams alike prioritize tasks and deliver better work.

A quick aside – Planifi’s Visual Planning tools help firms align to exactly this with real-time project actuals brought in from Deltek Vision. Learn more on our products page!

Courage, Respect, and Communication
Your firm must be an environment where open, respectful communication is prioritized. This will give your people the courage to present new approaches and solutions without fear of reprisal. And, in the end, this will help you deliver more successful projects.

Communication starts by aligning to crystal clear expectations with the client. Then, maintain client participation throughout the project lifecycle; incorporating feedback and constantly re-aligning to goals and deliverables. This approach will reduce waste and improve client satisfaction, but also comes with the responsibility to be courageous and speak your mind at difficult moments. You and your team need to be willing to go against the grain. When you or a team member keep a new idea to yourself, it does no good. It doesn’t help the team, the project, or the client.

Agile enables you to proactively manage reasonable asks/changes and always deliver to client expectations.

Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders
Some leadership qualities are timeless. Certain skills such as communicating a clear vision, possessing deep character, and utilizing a solid strategy were needed a century ago—and are still needed today. While the eternal skills of leaders remain, however, the style is always changing; and perhaps never faster than in the world we live in today.

Perhaps the most important reality we must recognize is that established leaders are losing control. The more they attempt to seize control, the more a generation of “free agents” eludes a tightening grasp and choose to follow someone else. Our best leaders inspire their teams to do great work. I encourage you to consider these ten principles and embrace change to inspire your teams.

Interested in learning how Planifi software can help your firm implement Agile project management? Improve client satisfaction, decrease overhead, and achieve higher profitability by scheduling a call today!

About the author: Don Archibeque is a Project Executive with Planifi, bringing more than 25 years of experience in construction and A/E (architecture and engineering) Project Management, as well as associated professional managerial services.


PSMJ is always looking to publish diverse views on issues and trends in the architecture and engineering (A/E) industry. We invite you to submit a 500-word post on any industry-related topic. We look forward to hearing from you.

 Guest Blogging
April 21, 2022

8 Questions to Ask When Looking for Software to Manage Your A/E Firm

You have many options if you’re an architecture or engineering (A/E) firm decision-maker and are looking for software to help you manage your organization. Systems run the gamut..

Read More
April 15, 2022

Why Strategic Plans Languish and Fail

There’s no question that strategic planning is essential for firm success. Yet despite this, the vast majority of strategic plans fail or fail to be fully or successfully..

Read More
February 24, 2022

It’s Time for AEC Firms to Get Serious About Agile Project Management

As smoothly as many architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms have adapted to the realities of doing business during a pandemic, and as plentiful as the..

Read More