Agile prototyping in construction and project management

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Written by Mohamed Filali Yachou, s212771, Msc Architectural Engineering



The Agile Prototyping model represents a new approach and tool for Project, Program, and Portfolio Management (PPM) within the Agile Project Management. Using agile methodologies such as prototyping can help project teams to identify potential issues and make changes early in the process, improving project outcomes. Agile prototyping involves creating a functional prototype or model of the project in an iterative and incremental way, allowing the team to test and refine the design before construction begins. This article aims to explore the benefits and challenges of using agile prototyping in construction especially for project managers.

The primary objective of the agile prototyping model is to enable companies to provide value to their clients more frequently, respond to changes, and ultimately enhance their business performance. This methodology is useful for breaking down complex projects into manageable tasks and completing them in short iterations throughout the project life cycle, which encompasses all phases from the initiation to the completion of the project.

Agile prototyping model is flexible and adaptable to most projects. It is common for companies to resort to predictive models when dealing with projects that involve high levels of design complexity and big scale. Architecture and building construction companies frequently utilize this model to significantly enhance and improve the quality, durability and uniqueness of their designs [1].


The agile prototyping tool is part of the agile model. A model with a project management approach focused on adaptability and customer satisfaction. The Agile model emphasizes short-term planning and uses iterations or sprints to divide the project life cycle into manageable tasks. This model can be applied to almost any project, but it is particularly useful for complex projects where flexibility is crucial.

It was created in 2001 with the launching of the Agile Manifesto [2]. 17 professionals in the scope of software developping gathered together and drafted the Agile Manifesto . They stated 4 principles for agile management to assist companies in creating better software: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation and responding to change over following a plan.

Agile model

The agile model consist of sprints or iterations with the following stages in the depicted order:

1 - Planning.

2 - Design.

3 - Testing.

4 - Realease.

If the result is not the expected as the main goal, the process stages will start over again (unlimited amount of sprints), until achieve the final product result aimed.

The agile methods satisfy high product quality, customer satisfaction, reduce risks and better and faster ROI (Return on Investment). [3]

Principle for successful Agile Project Management to consider

- Customer is satisfied.

- Shortening time between planning and delivery.

- Managements and developers work together for better understanding.

- Accepting stakeholders changes, even late in the development phase.

- Better cordination with team members.

- Monitoring of project progress at each iteration and finding solutions wherever needed.

- Trust and support the team to complete project objectives.

- Efficient and effective method of conveying information within development team (face to face conversation)

- Simplicity is essential for maximizing output.

- The final product should be used as the primary metric to measure progress.

Agile Prototyping

Having provided a brief overview of the Agile Model, the Agile Prototyping tool is utilized within the Agile Model to create and test prototypes of a product or service, resulting in multiple advantages and positive outcomes.

The following are the steps for sprints and iterations involved in Agile Prototyping:

1. Identify the user requirements: The first step in Agile Prototyping is to identify the user requirements for the product or service being developed. This involves gathering information from the client on what they expect from the final product.

2. Create a prototype: Once the user requirements have been identified, the next step is to create a prototype. This prototype should be a working model of the product or service, which can be used to test and refine the design.

3. Test the prototype: After the prototype has been created, it is important to test it. Testing involves evaluating the prototype's performance against the user requirements identified in step 1. Any discrepancies between the prototype and user requirements are noted and used to improve the design.

4. Refine the prototype: Based on the feedback from the testing, the prototype is refined. The refinement process involves making changes to the design to ensure that it meets the user requirements identified in step 1.

5. Repeat the process: The process of creating, testing, and refining the prototype is repeated until the final product is developed. This process can be repeated several times until the design meets the user requirements and is deemed acceptable.

The above steps can be repeated in short iterations until the final product is developed. This approach allows for the rapid development and testing of prototypes, resulting in a final product that meets the user requirements and is delivered in a timely and efficient manner.

Agile Prototyping in Building construction, Architecture Project Managers

Agile prototyping has been increasingly used in architecture and construction as a way to improve the design and construction process, resulting in more efficient and effective projects. By using the agile prototyping approach, architects and construction professionals can collaborate more closely with clients and stakeholders, incorporate feedback and make changes throughout the project lifecycle.

One way in which agile prototyping is used in architecture is by creating physical or digital models of the building design early in the process. These prototypes can help architects and clients visualize and refine the design before the construction process begins. The prototypes can be used to test different design options, experiment with materials and lighting, and identify potential issues before construction begins.

In the construction process, agile prototyping is used to develop and test building systems and materials. For example, 3D printing can be used to create prototypes of building components, such as wall systems or mechanical systems, allowing for testing and refinement before final construction.

Agile prototyping has also helped in streamlining the construction process by enabling faster decision-making and problem-solving. By using agile prototyping, construction teams can identify issues earlier in the project, allowing for quicker resolution and reducing the likelihood of costly delays.

Agile Prototyping for Project Managers in building construction and architecture scope: [1] [5]

Agile prototyping can help project managers in architecture firms in a few different ways. First, it allows for more frequent feedback and collaboration between the project team, stakeholders, and clients. This can lead to a better understanding of the project goals and requirements, as well as identifying potential issues early on in the process.

Additionally, agile prototyping can help project managers to manage risk by allowing for incremental progress and adjustment along the way, rather than waiting until the end of the project to identify and address issues. This can help to ensure that the project stays on track and within budget.

Furthermore, agile prototyping can help project managers to more effectively manage complex projects, as it provides a clear framework for breaking down the project into smaller, more manageable tasks. This can help to improve communication, reduce misunderstandings, and increase efficiency throughout the project.

Pros and Cons of Agile Prototyping

Some of the positive points of using Agile Prototyping are:

- Early feedback: Agile Prototyping allows for early user feedback and involvement, which helps to identify potential issues early on in the development process.

- Improved accuracy: By using prototyping, developers can ensure that the final product meets the requirements and needs of the end-users, thus improving the accuracy of the final product.

- Reduced development time: Agile Prototyping involves iterative development, which can help to reduce the overall development time.

- Cost-effective: It is more cost-effective to identify and correct issues during the prototyping phase than to make changes to a product after it has been fully developed.

However, it is important to acknowledge the following negative aspects of the tool:

- Requires additional resources: Agile Prototyping requires additional resources, such as time and workers, to create and test multiple prototypes.

- Potential scope creep: Without proper management, Agile Prototyping can lead to challenging , where additional features or requirements are added to the project, increasing its complexity.

- Perhaps not working for all projects: Agile Prototyping may not be suitable for all types of projects, especially those with rigid requirements.

- Sometimes difficult to manage: Managing multiple prototypes can be difficult, especially when it comes to tracking changes and ensuring that all feedback is addressed.


In conclusion, the use of Agile prototyping in construction can improve project success by providing a flexible and iterative approach to design and construction. Project managers can leverage this approach to enhance collaboration, reduce rework, and deliver projects that meet customer needs and expectations. As the construction industry continues to evolve, Agile prototyping provides a promising approach for project managers to remain competitive and deliver successful projects.


[1] Agile Prototyping course 41938, Msc Architectural Engineering, DTU (Technical University of Denmark), proffesor Tim Pat McGinley.

[2]. A brief history of the agile methodology. Inforworld, United States.

[3] Post Graduate Program In Project Management, Simplilearn.

[4] Core Values, Steps and Principles of Agile Project Management, Sean Thomas.

[5] Advanced Building Design course 41936, Msc Architectural Engineering, DTU (Technical University of Denmark), Tim Pat McGinley, C A Hviid,L Giuliani,M B Rasmussen,V Zania,P Weitzmann, M Baagøe Rasmussen, A S Dederichs, J Karlshøj.

[6] "Agile Project Management in the construction industry" thesis, Mattias Yllén Johansson. KTH (Royal Institute of Technology), Stockholm, Sweden

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