Like any other profession or industry, the engineering and construction industry has identified over the years what data must be captured during the project life cycle stages to enable the project team to successfully manage their projects and eventually have the insight to make better and faster decisions. The captured data also plays an important role to fulfill and govern the contractual obligations between the project parties. This data is usually captured using document templates that although the layout could differ from one project to the other, nevertheless they all almost have the same core content. Document templates are also used to enforce the formal communication that is part of every project.
For an organization to have better document templates when it comes to managing their engineering and construction projects, the following is recommended:
- Document Templates need to be aligned with Project Management Best Practices like those developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and other professional bodies.
- Document Templates need to be aligned with engineering and construction best practices like those of the Construction Specification Institute (CSI), American Institute of Architects (AIA), Construction Industry Institute (CII) among others.
- Document Templates need to be aligned with the engineering and construction contracts used on projects like those of FIDIC, NEC3, AIA among others.
- Document Templates need to be aligned with the local regulations and authorities requirements where the project is being executed which might affect the language used in the document template.
- Document Templates need to be aligned with the company’s knowledge and best practices accumulated over the years in delivering engineering and construction projects.
The list below provides recommendations on what to consider when an organization wants to develop the document templates to be used during the project life cycle stages as well as some of the document templates that are needed to capture project data. Those recommendations are aligned with the PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) which provides an integrated and comprehensive platform for managing projects.
Project Life Cycle Stages. It is important to understand what will be the project stages that the company will be responsible to manage as the document templates needed for each stage could differ. For example, managing the pre-project approval stage requires having documents on the project’s return on investment, strategic alignment, and stakeholder’s requirements among others.
It is also highly recommended to have document templates to capture the Stage Gate Approval. Those document templates will usually identify the deliverables of each stage, who approved them and when. In most projects, the formal approval of Stage Gate is a must before allowing the project to proceed to the next stage.
Today, it is very common to have a Project Phase field in project document templates to identify which phase the document template belongs. This is very much needed for document templates that are common to all phases such as meeting minutes, progress reports among others. The RFI example shown below shows the Phase field labeled as “Phase” which will pick the relevant value from the predefined dictionary.
Scope Management. In addition to the need to have document templates to capture the original project scope and changes to the approved scope, all document templates should be aligned with the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Similar to the need of have a reference number, date, issuer and recipient name, document type and status, it is a must to have a field that will capture the WBS level that the document relate to. The RFI example shown below shows the WBS field labeled as “WBS” which will pick the relevant value from the WBS data imported from the project schedule which could be from Oracle Primavera P6, MS Project among others.
For scope management, one of the important document templates that would needed to capture data that relate to project scope is what is known as the WBS Dictionary. This template is used to identify the included and excluded scope of work for each WBS level. The template is also used to capture the planned start and finish dates for the WBS scope, account manager among others.
Time Management. Document templates are used to drive actions on part of the recipient to avoid delays to the project. Those actions need to be aligned with the approved project schedule which also has a lot of important data needed to manage the project. Therefore it is highly recommended to have the approval “Required Date” clearly stated on the document template to determine the needed approval date to avoid project delays. Should the document template have an impact on the project schedule, then it is highly recommended to have a field to capture the activity that could be impacted by if there is delay in approving this document. The RFI example shown below shows the required approval field labeled as “Required Date” and the “WBS” field which will pick the relevant value from the WBS data imported from the project schedule.
In addition, it is very common nowadays to have a document template that will capture the details of all delay events that could impact the project schedule. This template, Delay Event, will capture the delay event type, responsibility, start and end date, activities affected, contract clauses relevant to the delay among many others. This will help the team to do a comprehensive delay analysis and use this information in their Extension of Time claims.
To be continued.