Historically, the greatest challenges in the construction industry are cost and schedule deviations that stem mainly from alterations in the sequence of activities, inefficient scheduling, and high waste rates of operational time, materials and operational efficiency.
Therefore, the implementation of tools that allow control and management of activities in dynamic and collaborative cycles are alternatives that bring significant results to civil construction. The processes defined by the Last Planner System (LPS) of Lean Construction and agile methodologies (Scrum) fit very well with management of construction sites.
Lean-LPS and Agile-Scrum in the construction industry
In the 1990s, the Last Planner System (LPS) emerged from Lean Construction as an alternative to traditional planning and production control systems . LPS is a comprehensive and integrated system for production planning and control and is the planning methodology that has demonstrated significant results reducing costs and improving productivity in construction sites.
In the latest LPS process benchmark, Ballard and Tommelein  proposed to analyze Scrum to explore which elements of this Agile framework can be used to improve LPS. In the Agile domain, the most commonly used methodology is SCRUM. This framework has been widely implemented in software and hardware development, but has not been fully explored in the construction industry yet.
Until now, few cases of studies have documented the use of SCRUM in the construction industry. Lia et al. combined ideas from Last Planner System, SCRUM, and Critical Chain to optimize predictability in the delivery of complex engineering projects . Kalsaas et al. proposed SCRUM to establish short milestones and iterations to proactively address changes that occur during the design phase . Demir and Theis presented a combination of SCRUM in an Agile design model to increase coordination, interface management, collaboration, and transparency during project design . The case study by Streule et al. investigated the implementation of Scrum during the project definition phases with a focus on profitability optimization and cost optimization .
SCRUM is an agile framework used to manage complex projects with high unpredictability due to uncertainties in requirements and technology. SCRUM was developed using an iterative and incremental approach to optimize predictability and manage project risks . In SCRUM, the management of a project is divided into Sprints, which are short iterative cycles that can range from 1 to 4 weeks, and consists of SCRUM teams associated with roles (Product Owner, SCRUM Master, and SCRUM Team); events (Product Planning, Sprint Planning, Daily SCRUM, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective); and artifacts (Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, and Increment). SCRUM ensures transparency in communication between teams, creates an environment of collective responsibility and people development by continuous learning .
Poudel et. al. (2020) compared LPS and SCRUM on eight different dimensions across: 1) origins, 2) main purpose, 3) overall system / process framework, 4) tools or artifacts maintained by the team, 5) team composition and key roles, 6) regular events or team meetings, 7) metrics/ Dashboard, and 8) approach to learning. A summary of the comparison is provided in the following table:
Table 1: Comparison between LPS and Scrum on the 8 dimensions
Source: Poudel, Roshan & García de Soto, Borja & Martinez, Eder. (2020)
Synergy between Last Planner System and SCRUM
In general, LPS and SCRUM share several principles related to how teams collaborate to organize work and increase the value delivered to the customer. This combination enables a balance between flexibility and predictability, mitigating risk and enhancing innovation. Poudel et al.  identified four main elements of SCRUM that can be leveraged to improve the LPS benchmark, these are:
- Tools or artifacts maintained by the team: explore the use of SCRUM's increment concept in project design. This can help address the increased uncertainty, speed, and complexity inherent in the iterative design process.
- Team composition and key roles: improve job description and add SCRUM Master. Having a SCRUM Master equivalent as a designated "rule keeper" in the LPS may help address some challenges and planning responsibilities.
- Regular events or team meetings: explore working with decentralized teams and Scaled Agile. This can help find ways to incorporate remote or external teams into the LPS.
- Metrics / Dashboards: explore the use of SCRUM story points in existing LPS metrics. This can complement current LPS metrics in terms of consistency and correlation to overall team and project performance.
In conclusion, SCRUM can be applied to all types of projects in the AEC industry, by dividing the planning scope into sprints of 1 to 4 weeks with the definition of deliverables and priority tasks. Through daily meetings, it is possible not only to understand the impact that the work of each collaborator has on the project, but also to identify and correct possible route deviations in a more agile way. Agile methodologies offer real benefits to organizations that thrive on change and promote a culture where workers can contribute to organizational learning.
1. Ballard G (2000). The Last Planner System of Production Control. Dissertation for the Doctoral Degree. Birmingham: University of Birmingham
2. Ballard G, Tommelein I D (2016). Current process benchmark for the last planner system. Lean Construction Journal, 89: 57–89
3. Demir S. T., Theis P (2016). Agile design management—The application of Scrum in the design phase of construction projects. In: Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Boston, MA, 13–22
4. Kalsaas B T, Bonnier K E, Ose A O (2016). Towards a model for planning and controlling ETO design projects. In: Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC). Boston, MA, 33–42
5. Lia K A, Ringerike H, Kalsaas B T (2014). Increase predictability in complex engineering and fabrication projects. In: Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC). Oslo, 437–449
6. Poudel, Roshan & García de Soto, Borja & Martinez, Eder. (2020). Last Planner System and Scrum: Comparative analysis and suggestions for adjustments. Frontiers of Engineering Management. DOI: 10.1007/s42524-020-0117-1.
7. Schwaber K, Beedle M (2001). Agile Software Development with Scrum. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall
8. Schwaber, K., Sutherland, J. (2017) The scrum guide. The Definitive Guide to Scrum: The Rules of the Game. Scrum.org
9. Streule T., Miserini N, Bartlomé O., Klippel M., García de Soto B. (2016). Implementation of scrum in the construction industry. Procedia Engineering, 164: 269–276