Organizations who are keen on delivering their projects successfully, understand that one of the key requirements for achieving this is having standard project management procedures to be followed by the project delivery team. The procedures which need to be aligned with project management and engineering and construction projects delivery best practices will be also need to be aligned with the contract agreements that govern the formal relation between the different parties of the contract. Those parties could be the project owner, project management consultant, engineering consultant, supervision consultant, contractors among others.
The project management procedures manual will identify the many processes that need to be executed during the project life cycle and how to enforce the best practices of governance, transparency and accountability in delivering those processes. For each process, the manual will detail the document templates to be used, the workflow steps to be followed in executing the process, the reports to be generated to maintain register of transactions, the key performance indicators (KPI) used to measure the process performance among others.
What Processes to Manage?
Assuming that the project management procedures manual will be developed by the project management consultant (PMC) who have been appointed by the project owner to manage the project’s delivery, the manual should cover the processes for the complete project life cycle including design, procurement and construction phases and stages.
To ensure that all processes are covered, it is highly recommended to use the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) approach for identifying all those processes. This approach will also enable the PMC to determine the project control level. The chart below explains how this approach is used to identify change order processes which are a must on every project.
The list below is an example of the project management processes that a PMC needs to implement during the project delivery life cycle. Of course, the list of processes can be expanded to include other processes that are specific to the project to be managed or the approach followed by the organization in managing projects delivery.
Who Will be Involved in Executing the Processes?
Projects in general and engineering and construction projects in particular involve many organizations in delivering the project. Those could be the project owner, project management consultant, engineering consultant, supervision consultant, contractors among others. Similar to the project management processes, the Organization Breakdown Structure (OBS) will be used to detail the specific project team members who will be involved in delivering the different project management processes.
The Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM)
Integrating the WBS for the project management procedures and the OBS for the project team members will produce what is known as the Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM). The RAM is used to clearly define the responsibilities of the project Team Members in performing those processes, lines of authority and flow of approvals and information among the Team Members. The RAM or as generically known as RACI chart identifies for each project management process the team member responsible for their performance, review, comments and who to be informed.
The specific role types needed to execute each project management process could vary depending on what is the organization is used to have as well as what could be best understood by the project team members. Regardless of the roles types used, there should be clear definition of what each role should entail. The example below, details the roles associated with the RACI chart.
Responsible: Those who do the work to achieve the task. There is at least one role with a participation type of responsible, although others can be delegated to assist in the work required.
Accountable (also Approver or final approving authority): The one ultimately answerable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task, and the one who delegates the work to those responsible. In other words, an accountable must sign off (approve) work that responsible provides. There must be only one accountable specified for each task or deliverable.
Consulted (sometimes Consultant or counsel): Those whose opinions are sought, typically subject matter experts; and with whom there is two-way communication.
Informed (also Informee): Those who are kept up-to-date on progress, often only on completion of the task or deliverable; and with whom there is just one-way communication.
The chart below is an example of how a project RAM will look like. The WBS and OBS levels of details depend on the governance, transparency and accountability level the organization wants to enforce on their projects delivery.
The Document Template
For each project management process, there should be a document template that details the data that needs to be captured for each process. This data could be filled by different project team members depending on their specific roles as defined in the RAM. The document template will also include all the approvals needed to perform the process as well as the list of documents and other project records that need to be attached to the document template. The document template will be usually customized to reflect the organization branding requirements such as logo, colors, fonts among others.
The USA Construction Specification Institute (CSI), American Institute of Architects (AIA) and other professional organizations have developed document templates that are aligned with the best practices for delivering engineering and construction projects. Those can be used as a guidance for developing the organization’s own document templates that also need to take into consideration the conditions of contracts that are used to identify the contractual obligations and responsibilities of those involved in delivering the project.
The Project Management Process Workflow
Using the RAM roles and the document template, the organization needs to map the steps for submitting, reviewing, approving and sharing the data captured for each project management process. The workflow for each process will map the sequence for performing those steps along with the conditions that could affect the authority for approving the process like for example change orders, or even the team members who will be involved in the review process like for example submittals for mechanical works compared to those of electrical works. It therefore no wonder that the project management procedures manual could have thousands of workflow scenarios depending on the data recorded in the relevant document template.
Project Management Processes Logs and Registers
The details of each project management process transaction need to be captured in a register or log for the project team members to have understanding of the status of those transactions in terms of approved, pending or newly submitted. The chart below shows as an example the Request for Interpretation (RFI) document template and the log for all RFI transactions that have occurred on the project. The layout of the report depends on the document template fields and what are needed to share the information on how a specific process is performing. The report will also display the key performance indicators (KPI) associated with the project management process. Those could include number of days delayed, status, value, severity among others.
How Can Technology Help in Maximizing the Value of Project Management Procedures?
Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) like PMWeb can help organizations in automating their project management processes and maximize the value from the data captured through the different project management processes. PMWeb comes ready with most of the input forms needed to manage the project management processes. In addition, PMWeb custom form builder allows creating unlimited number of additional input forms to capture the details of newly created project management processes. PMWeb allows setting role-based access rights to limit access for those forms as well as specific fields within the form itself.
In addition, it allows the form user to attach all supportive documents, link emails and link other project management records to the selected form. Those documents are usually uploaded and stored on PMWeb document management repository. The document management repository allows creating folders and sub-folders to match the organization’s project filing structure. PMWeb administrator can also limit access to those document folders to only authorized project team members.
Each input form could be assigned with the workflow that maps the process for submitting, reviewing, approving and sharing the project management process. The workflow will usually include branches and conditions to match the authorities and approval levels associated with each process. The workflow could include multiple reviewers for specific steps with the condition that all must approve or only one can approve. Comments made at each step will be captured to keep track of the workflow team input. PMWeb allows creating notifications and reports to identify those who are delaying the review and approval of a document as per the workflow steps duration and actions.
The organization can design the output form in any desired form and format not only to match the organization’s branding in terms of logo and colors but also to match the output requirement for each specific project. This is very possible as each project could involve different organizations in the project delivery for which it might impact the layout of the output form.
Real-time reports and logs will become automatically available for the project team members to help them to report on and analyze the performance of each project management process. Being an enterprise solution, PMWeb allows visualizing those reports for a single project as well as a portfolio of projects which could be needed to benchmark, compare the performance or even leverage the knowledge gained from one project with another.
Nevertheless, what is more interesting is that using PMWeb the organization can produce reports and dashboards that combine data from different but interrelated processes. For example, to have a better understanding on the project’s cost status, the organization might need a single dashboard that reports on the project cost estimate, budget, budget adjustments, awarded contracts, potential change orders, approved change orders, disputed change orders and claims, progress invoices for completed work in place, actual payments made for approved progress invoices, forecast to complete the balance of the project scope among others.
For those who are keen on having a single version of the truth on how the overall project is performing, then a project dashboard will be needed. This dashboard could be designed to capture details from the cost management, schedule update, quality, safety, risk, communication and other processes that are critical for monitoring and evaluating the project’s performance. The project dashboard could be linked to progress photographs and site cameras to provide live report on the project’s site performance.
As mentioned earlier, being an enterprise solution, the organization can also monitor, evaluate and report the performance across a portfolio of projects. Usually, there will be specific key performance indicators that each project’s performance will be assessed against. Those usually are KPIs that relate to schedule, cost, quality and safety performance of each project. The enterprise dashboard could also include a map to display the location of each project being reported on.
In conclusion, if you are an organization who is involved in delivering projects, and in particular engineering and construction projects, the absence of a documented comprehensive project management procedures manual will drastically increase the likelihood of incurring the risks of lack of governance, transparency and accountability. The project management procedures manual, accompanied with the organization’s leadership support, will enforce adopting the best practices in managing projects thus reducing the high risk of projects failure. The Project Management Institute (PMI) has reported that organizations on average, risk $122 million in losses for every $1 billion spent on delivering projects.
The recent development in digital transformation as it relates to managing projects’ delivery, will massively increase the value of having documented project management procedures. The benefits are generated from ensuring that the right projects’ data are captured in the right format, by the right team members at the right time. This will enforce the best practices of governance, transparency and accountability. In addition, this BIG DATA will not only ensure real-time monitoring, evaluation and reporting of projects performance but will provide unmatched insight for the knowledge gained and lessons learnt in delivering those processes. This will provide the wisdom to enable decision makers and other executives to make better and faster informed decisions.