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PPI Position Paper: A Comparison of Lean Construction with Project Production Management

Executive Summary

Project Management aims to address the myriad technical, human, organizational and managerial issues encountered during project execution [1]. Over the past two decades, different variants have emerged, including Lean Project Management, Agile Project Management, Scrum, Theory of Constraints and Extreme Project Management, to name a few. Lean Construction [2,36,54] utilizes concepts originally from Lean manufacturing and applies them specifically to the delivery of projects in the construction sector.

Despite the proliferation of different “flavors” of project management, major capital project outcomes in construction and in other industries remain poor [3 – 5]. Industry practitioners face a confusing array of differing methodologies, each claiming to address poor project performance. The Institute’s mission is to explain how Project Production Management (PPM) addresses the gap between today’s poor project performance and what is possible, thereby differentiating PPM from other methodologies.

Here, we focus on a comparison between PPM and Lean Construction. We trace the historical evolution of Lean Construction from its roots in Lean manufacturing, highlighting the operations science foundation underlying Lean and PPM. Lean Construction covers aspects of project governance, organization of project stakeholders and the work activities of the organization. In contrast, PPM focuses on the organization and control of project work activities. PPM’s deeper focus on the execution of work activities results in quantitative, predictive outcomes, validated by practice, that address poor project execution performance.

Figure 1: The Operations Science Foundation Underlying Lean and Project Production Management

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