The Lean Construction in Europe is a series that features Lean practitioners working in Europe. In this series, William Power interviews lean leaders and shares lessons learned. This series highlights how people are currently applying Lean in their projects and how they are progressing on their lean journey. The goal of this series is to connect people with the lean practices that they are currently using. We want to share stories about what they are learning and how they are improving their practice.
1. Hello Manuel. Can you tell us about yourself and the projects on which you are currently
I am passionate about innovation and optimization in project management through Lean Construction (LC).
Trained in both America and Europe in 7 universities and 3 business schools, I have a PhD in Construction Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Barcelona, Spain), a Master’s in Project Management with the certification of Project Management Professional (PMP) by the PMI from the USA, Master’s in Construction Management, Master’s in Real Estate Investments and MBA.
I have more than 10 years of experience as a Lean Project and Program Manager from the client's side. As a result, I have successfully managed more than 60 building projects in 11 countries worth €100m.
I have also had experience teaching as a University Professor, and as an International Speaker at entities such as the LC Institute (LCI), the International Group for LC (IGLC), the European LC Congress or the University of California (Berkeley) among others.
2. How did you first encounter Lean Construction and how did it change your approach to
I first came across LC 11 years ago when I was conducting a master’s in construction management in Valencia, Spain. I had always thought that there is big room for improvement in construction and when I heard about Lean I said… “this is the way.”
3. Why did you conduct your PhD in Lean Construction? What did you find out?
I carried out an industrial PhD in Lean Construction (LC) and Project Management (PM) because I am passionate about those areas and they relate to my everyday duties, both as a project manager at Cognita and as a university professor in Barcelona. Thanks to this research I developed a Project Management Guideline bespoke to Cognita to improve our construction project performance, using a Lean approach.
In addition, the relationship between LC and PM has not been researched extensively and the benefits of each one has been mostly analyzed from a qualitative point of view. Because of this, I decided to develop a theoretical framework for identifying how much some Lean tools could improve quantitatively PM performance.
You can find the main part of this work in my recent publication for the Lean Construction Journal ‘A Theoretical Framework Based on a Quantitative Assessment of the Interaction Between Commonly Used Lean Construction Tools and Techniques Through the Project Management Knowledge Areas.’ Free access link.
The use of the proposed framework will enable construction project managers and other professionals to understand the benefits of the interaction between LCTTs through the different PMKAs. From a practical perspective, this study could allow them to select the most suitable LCTTs for each PMKA depending on each need.
Based on this investigation and the analysis developed, it was found that the six LCTTs studied improve a certain level of the twelve construction PM areas. Additionally, it has been demonstrated that the individual Lean tools and techniques were not only affecting specific PM areas, but several. For instance, although LPS® is applied during schedule management and its main benefits come from this, it has an important positive impact on the rest of the PMKAs, especially in the scope, resource, and communication management.
As a result, this study shows that several PM areas could also be improved at the same time, even when only one lean tool is implemented. Regarding the PM areas, the LC tools that have the most impact are cost, schedule, and scope (34%) and traditionally have been called the iron triangle, which is essentially the core of PM and key to project success.
4. Do you feel that working on the Client’s side assists in influencing greater adoption of Lean Construction (LC) practices on a project?
Yes, especially promoting the use of Integrated Project Delivery from the beginning of the project.
5. What are the most used Lean methodologies you encounter and how do these enhance performance?
As was demonstrated in the paper, IPD and LPS were the tools with the highest impact on the PM knowledge areas. In other words, IPD and LPS provide 63% of the total benefits of all the tools analyzed.
6. Do Spanish contractors possess good LC knowledge and are they accepting of different
ways of working?
LC in Spain is seeing an increase in interest. In fact, some public governments e.g., here in Barcelona, promote the use of LC in public construction works like hospitals. During the tendering process, if you demonstrate experience in LC, it could give you 25% of the total score in the tender.
Having said that, most of the stakeholders who participate in construction work do not have knowledge of LC and they normally refuse to adopt new ways of working. Changing their mindset is the most difficult part.
7. As a client project manager, list your top three main benefits of LC.
- Align objectives between the key stakeholders and create a common goal.
- Reduce variability which has a positive impact on the performance.
- Improve most of PM knowledge areas, especially the Iron Triangle (cost, schedule, and scope).
8. As a client project manager, list your top three main challenges of LC.
- Changing the “status quo” mindset of some stakeholders, especially the ones with more experience.
- Implementing LC properly takes some time because of the meetings and preparation of documentation. Sometimes I have had to contract new resources for that, which means an extra cost.
- The stakeholders’ commitment to attending meetings and being actively involved in the Lean implementation.