Are You Faced with Garbage In, Garbage Out Syndrome When It Comes to Making Decisions on your Projects?

Almost each one of us will need during his or her as a project management team member to make decisions, of various importance, that could impact the project objectives. Also, almost all of us would agree that lacking the access to trust worthy real-time data will limit our ability to have the insight to make better and faster informed decisions. In a nutshell, if we are given nonsense data, or garbage data, then most likely we will make many nonsense decisions, or garbage decisions.

Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) like PMWeb will help project team members in eliminating this Garbage In, Garbage Out syndrome by implementing common sense practices to the current practices that created this syndrome. Practices that address the following four important points: Capturing data, sharing and distributing data, and storing and accessing data.

Capturing Everyday Projects Data

PMIS solutions like PMWeb comes ready with pre-defined input forms that are specific for capturing projects’ everyday data. Those could include meeting minutes, request for information, daily reports, submittals, transmittals, snag lists among others. Those forms include the different fields needed to for each type of project communication as well as fields that are common to all such as WBS, Activity ID among others. Some of the common fields come ready with dropdown lists of pre-defined values to ensure consistency in captured data. In addition, additional user defined fields can be added to the default forms to make them more specific to each organization’s best practices and requirements.

Those default forms are not limited to everyday project communications but also include cost forms like budget, budget adjustments, commitments, potential change orders, change orders, progress invoices, funding requests, funding authorizations, cost estimates, online bids, bid analysis, timesheets among others. Similarly, additional user defined fields can be added to the default forms to make them more specific to each organization’s best practices and requirements.

Knowing that no PMIS solution can meet or fulfill all types of project communications, solutions like PMWeb provides a form builder that will enable the project team to create additional new forms. Those could include risk identification, issue management, non-compliance reports, request for inspections among many others. Those forms can be designed in any form or layout as well as they can be in any language, Latin or non-Latin.

Since it is very common for project communications to have supportive documents attached to it, PMWeb allows the project team members to upload project documents into a specific folder or sub-folder in the document management repository. Those could drawings, pictures, videos, brochures, catalogues, certificates among others.

Similarly, a project communication could be lined to another project communication including email communications. PMWeb allows importing project’s emails into the email inbox repository. Those emails and similar to all other project communications created within PMWeb can be linked to any other PMWeb project communication.

For all those forms, whether available by default or created by the project team, access rights can be assigned to limit user access to each type of project communication as well as limit access to specific fields within each form. Those are usually set by the system administrator.

Sharing and Distributing Projects Data

PMIS solutions like PMWeb would usually allows the project team members to create workflow to formalize the steps for submitting, reviewing, approving or rejecting the submitted project’s data. PMWeb role-based workflow allows defining the sequence of those steps and whether a step will involve a single role or multiple roles in reviewing the data.

The PMWeb workflow allows creating branches and conditions to enforce the approval authorities’ levels set for each project. Those could include conditions that are based on financial value, for example value of change order, amount of approved progress invoice, budget adjustment amount among others. Those conditions could be specific to an action, for example if the submittal is a material sample or shop drawing, mechanical or electrical, RFI has cost/schedule impact or none, among others.

The created workflow will then become an integral part of the project communication form, where it will show the history of the communication. This will comments made, date reviewed among others. The form will also display a graphical presentation of the workflow and its current status.

For some forms, like Action Forms, the project team member might require what is known as ad-hoc workflow or collaboration. In this case, the different project team members that need to be involved in sharing and distributing the data captured in the form will be invited to the form. Those project team members can then add their comments and input on this specific project communication.

Storing and Accessing Data

The everyday project communications data captured in PMWeb will become available for the authorized project team members to provide the real-time information to give them the insight to make better and faster decisions. Tabular and graphical reports are usually produced in the form and format that the project team members need to enable them to make the needed actions and decisions.

In addition, the growing use of interactive business intelligence and data visualization applications like MS Power BI, Qlik, Tableau, iDashboards among many others is providing project team members is extending the ability of the project team members to make better use of the everyday captured data. Those applications enable the project team members to analyze trends, data growth, correlations and sensitivity of the captured data to run what-if scenarios as well as dice and slice the information in any desired format.

Of course, the everyday data will also become to other project’s executives and stakeholders who are keen to monitor and evaluate the project’s or even a projects’ portfolio performance. The executives and stakeholders might need to drilldown to more performance details on certain aspects of the project when needed. The dashboard could also include hyperlinks to construction cameras that are used to provide real-video streaming of project’s activities or pre-recorded performance videos by drones.

Conclusion

Regardless what business an organization is in, whether it is project related or not, the Garbage In, Garbage Out syndrome will always have a high likelihood to occur when there is no transparent and accountable process to govern the capturing, sharing, storing and accessing everyday data. Technology such as PMWeb Project Management Information System provides a proven solution to capture the right data, in the right format, by the right individual at the right time. Having this real-time trust-worthy data available for the project team members to review and analyze, will for sure provide them with the insight to make better and faster informed decisions.

Does Your Project Remind You of the Blind Men and the Elephant Story?

For many organizations who are in particular involved in delivering engineering and construction projects, find that their projects tend to remind them of the Blind Men and the Elephant Story. It is very common to find that within each project, there are groups that will focus on capturing, analyzing, monitoring and evaluating the processes that relate to their assigned roles and responsibilities but with very little and even no coordination with other project groups. Thus, none of those groups as well as the project manager and other executive stakeholders can have the complete single version of the truth on how the project is performing.

Each one of those project groups will create the dashboard and reports that can best provide them with details of their processes performance and status. Those could include dashboards to report the project’s schedule performance, budget and cost, procured contracts, quality and site inspection, document management, health and safety, risk and issues among other. Each dashboard would usually include key performance indicators, other performance and trend measures as well as summary logs of key actions.

There will be another project group, maybe the project control group, that will then consolidate the information from those different spreadsheets or applications to produce the monthly project performance report. The team can use the same MS XLS file used to consolidate this multi-data sources or any other data visualization tools like MS Power BI among others to generate the monthly project dashboard in the desired format.

Nevertheless, the issue goes far beyond the wasted effort in consolidating, reviewing, analyzing and reporting the information from the different data silos and the delay in sharing this information which could make it of no or little value when it comes to making informative decisions. The real issue is that many transactions for the different processes managed by each group are interrelated with the processes managed by other groups. The links between those transactions must be clearly identified and managed if the organization is serious about having a single version of the truth when it comes to managing, monitoring and evaluating their projects’ performance.

Differing Site Conditions

To explain the seriousness of this issue, we will use the “Differing Site Conditions” event which is rarely not part of every engineering and construction project. We will also use PMWeb project management information system to explain how can technology available today address and resolve this issue.

The risk of encountering differing site conditions is usually part of every project risk register. The likelihood and impact of this risk varies depending on the project particulars and set objectives. The most common response action for this type of risk is to escalate as we cannot avoid the cause, transfer to a third party, effectively mitigate its impact or simply accept the additional cost and delays associated with the event.

To ensure that all the particulars of the differing site condition are captured when it occurs and the right project team members that needs to be involved in managing this risk is escalated to, a risk occurrence template is created. Those are pre-defined templates for the top 39 risk incidents that could occur during the delivery of engineering and construction projects. The template “Occurrence Report: Differing Site Condition” has specific data fields and actions that must be performed as soon as such risk event occurs. Pictures and other supportive documents will be attached to the form as well as it will be linked to the risk form that was originally used to capture and analyze the differing site conditions risk. The form will have a workflow that will map the steps to submit, review and decide on the actions to be taken to protect the interest of the organization.

Based on the particulars of the differing site condition captured in the form, the contractor’s contract administrator will issue a letter to the project owner or the authorized representative to formally notify them of this incident. The contractor would usually have pre-defined letter templates for every possible formal notification needed during the project delivery. Those are letter templates that are drafted by the organization’s legal team taken into consideration the terms and conditions of the contract agreement. The notification letter could have pictures and other supportive documents captured in the occurrence report attached to the letter as well as the link to the occurrence report.

The project owner and his/her authorized representative would require the contractor to submit his formal change order request that will be reviewed and assessed by them. PMWeb potential change order module will be used to submit this change request as well as any other changes that the contractor feels that there is an entitlement for additional cost and/or extension of time.

The contractor will be required to quantify the change request as usually the associated cost with differing site conditions are not readily available in the bill of quantity. Therefore, the best source for quantifying those damages is to review the resources, labor and non-labor, that were either became idle or used to rectify the situation. The daily report is the best formal communication that details what has happened, resources consumed and project schedule activities impacted.

To assess the time impact of the differing site condition incident, the contractor will use all of the information captured in the occurrence report, daily reports and updated project schedule to run the analysis. The details of this analysis will be captured in the Delay Analysis form created using PMWeb form builder. The form will be linked to all other relevant communications as well as the Time Impact Analysis (TIA) and other project schedule details will be attached to the form.

All clarifications and change order negotiation meetings will be captured in PMWeb meeting minutes module to maintain track of all events and actions taken to settle the change order. The meeting minute module is also used to capture the many project related meetings including but not limited to project kick off, safety, submittal review, progress review, interface management, handover among others.

When all is done and approved by the project owner, the contractor will receive the formal change order from the project owner for the differing site conditions incident. The change order will detail the financial adjustment to the contract amount along with the approved days for the delay impact.

Not only all the above processes were managed on one single platform, that is PMWeb, but the link between those interrelated processes are all captured and documented. The authorized PMWeb user can trace the records and documents that were part of any project communication captured in PMWeb. This even more important when there is a project incident or event that was not successfully identified as an incident that could impact the project cost and/or schedule. The search command allows the PMWeb user to search and locate all those records using key words that relate to the incident. Those records can be saved in an issue file where the PMWeb user can review the selected records and trace the other project communications that were linked to those selected records.

In other words, the organization will not only have all the dashboards that they need to share available at all times without wasting the effort in capturing, analyzing, preparing and reporting the information, but they can drilldown to the data source to identify the project communication and all related records and documents behind what was reported.

So, if you still feel that your project reminds you of the “Blind Men and the Elephant Story” and if you strongly believe that visualizing a “Single Version of the Truth” of all project management processes across a project or all projects is a must, then you have no choice but to adopt digital transformation for your project management processes.

Can You Afford Playing Chinese Whispers on Your Projects Delivery?

Valuable and critical information get generated every day during capital projects delivery. Information that relates to financial, technical, administrative and other aspects needed to manage the project get generated by the different entities involved in this delivery. Some of the information could be formal and have contractual implications if not managed in accordance with the contract agreements terms and condition while others could be informal but yet critical to provide complete understanding of the project’s performance. Many organizations continue to use fragmented, manual or semi-manual methods to capture, store, aggregate, analyze, blend, review, share and report projects information thus creating barriers that drain the value of this critical information sharing.

Understanding the Information Barriers

When it comes to capital projects delivery, there are usually six types of information barriers that organizations could encounter when it comes to reporting projects’ information. The first barrier is the link between the project communication and the project documents that are usually attached to those communications to provide additional needed information. Project communication usually uses document templates such as request for information (RFI), submittals, transmittals, meeting minutes, daily reports, request for inspection, non-conformance reports, potential change orders, change orders, progress invoices among many others. In addition, project communication includes letters such as letter of award, notice to process, termination letter among many others. Usually, the organization would have a folder for each type of document templates and maybe letters. In addition, the organization would also have folders to store the project documents that are usually attached to those project communications. There could be folders for drawings, pictures, catalogues, specifications among others.

The second barrier, is the barrier between the document templates for each project communication type. For example, if the project team member wants to identify what change orders where issued due to unforeseen site conditions, he or she needs to review the complete change order folder records to locate those documents. Of course, some might assume that this barrier can be eliminated by logging the details of the project communication in a MS XLS file. Nevertheless, the issue is how much of the data within each communication we need to retype in MS XLS which carries its own risks of data quality and time validity. In addition, even if those document templates are located in the MS XLS file, one stills needs to go back to the file folder and locate those records.

The third barrier is the silos created using MS XLS for each type of project communication which are usually created by different project team members depending on the relevance of the communication to them. For example, the document controller might be the one responsible for maintaining the RFI, submittal, transmittal, meeting minutes, daily reports, request for inspection and non-conformance reports logs while the cost manager might be the one responsible for maintaining the logs for potential change orders, change orders, progress invoices among others. If a project team member needs to understand what project communications have contributed to a change order, he or she needs to check different project communication MS XLS files and eventually the document folders that have those records to have that comprehensive understanding.

The fourth barrier is the ability to have a single project status report or dashboard that provides real-time visualization of the overall project’s performance status. The MS XLS logs created to capture some of the data included in the project communications not only carry the risk of data errors, lacking data consistency, data silos but also could be stored at different locations. Therefore, multiple MS XLS files need to collected, loaded, linked or copied to a single MS XLS file, analyzed, manipulated, reviewed and prepared to be used for the report. Not only this is a time-consuming process, which might take one week to complete but also requires the involvement of key project team members and carries the high risk of faulty data manipulation and analysis as well as the validity of the time-sensitive reported information.

The fifth barrier is the requirement of the organization’s executives to have projects portfolio report and dashboard. This could be at program level, projects group level or enterprise level. Even if we assume that the organization has invested in a business intelligence and data visualization application like MS Power BI, this requires receiving MS XLS file from each project that consolidates the project’s performance data needed for that report or dashboard. This entails the risk of not receiving those MS XLS in a timely manner with the exact form and format of project’s performance data to be reported on.

Nevertheless, the worst barrier of all is the knowledge barrier. Having projects information captured in hundreds if not thousands MS XLS files is a direct waste of the knowledge that an organization would expect to have from delivering projects. The wasted knowledge is not limited to the current projects being delivered by the organization but it extends to all other completed, shelved and planned projects that usually their MS XLS files are deleted, corrupted or misplaced. Even if the organization creates a task force to capture all of those MS XLS files, the efforts and associated cost for locating those files and making use of their content might not be justifiable.

Those barriers not only carry the high-cost of using expensive resources to capture, store, aggregate, analyze, blend, review, share, report and present the needed projects’ information but also the time-lag between the date that this information is captured and become available to be shared which raises the major concern on the validity of this information to provide the insight to make better and faster informed decisions.

How Can Technology Remove Those Barriers?

Using a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb not only eliminates those barriers but will ensure the quality of captured data by enforcing the use of the right forms, by the right project team members, to capture the right data in the right format and at the right time. This will be done on a single integrated, web-enabled platform for all project management processes across the complete project life cycle and for the complete organization’s projects portfolio regardless of their status, type, phase, location among others.

This will be achieved by automating the project management processes by the providing the input form to capture the needed data. Many of the capital projects delivery forms come ready with PMWeb but the custom form builder can be also used to create additional input forms.

Each project communication can be attached with documents that are either uploaded and stored in its appropriate folder or subfolder in PMWeb document management repository or can be uploaded directly. In addition, links to other PMWeb records can be added as well as to email communications that were imported to PMWeb database. This will remove the first information barrier as all attached documents are available for review.

Workflows can be assigned for each form to map the steps for submitting, reviewing, sharing and approving or rejecting the project management process. The workflow could include branches and escalation conditions to map the project authorities level usually set for each project role. Notifications can be added to remind those involved in the workflow process. For some forms, there could be a need for what ad-hoc workflow where project team members are simply invited to provide their input of feedback using the form.

The data captured in each form will become automatically available for displaying the transactions for each project communication. This real-time log of all those transactions remove the second barrier between those communications. Layouts can be created to display the data in the desired format with the option to order and filter the transactions by the desired field.

Since all of the project management processes are captured on the same PMWeb platform, reports and dashboards that will analyze the information captured across different type of project communications will be readily available. For example, the cost dashboard is an example a dashboard that aggregates the data across all of the project financial communication documents including budget, budget adjustments, awarded contracts, changes orders, progress invoices among others. Similar reports and dashboards for other type of project communications can be also be created. This removes the third barrier of not being able to relate to information captured in different types of project information.

Similarly, with all project related data is captured in PMWeb with the option to import data from other applications either directly like the schedule data from Oracle Primavera P6 or MS Project or import data through application integration, the organization can have a single version of the truth project performance dashboard. This will allow the organization to monitor and evaluate real time project’s performance and status. Accordingly, the fourth barrier of reporting project’s performance is eliminated.

As PMWeb allows the organization to capture all of their projects’ portfolio regardless of their status, location, type, phase, size among others, the organization can have dashboards to report on a program, group of projects or all projects. Dashboards can be designed to include maps to visualize the location of those projects as well as include other visuals to better analyze and visualize the projects portfolio performance. The dashboards can be designed to allow drilling to a specific project as well as project information. This eliminates the fifth information barrier.

Finally, PMWeb is one of the very few PMIS solutions that are available as on-premise solution where it can be hosted on the organization’s own data center or any other preferred data center to provide what is known as private cloud. In addition, PMWeb public cloud offering or SaaS provides organizations with the option of having their own dedicated data server to ensure that their confidential and valuable data is not mixed with other organizations known as tenants. This enables the organization to use business intelligence and other applications to analyze the everyday data captured across all of their projects’ portfolio in confidence. The captured data is not limited to the project communication needed to manage the project but could also include data captured in custom-defined lessons learned document templates to enforce knowledge capturing and sharing in the organization. This data can also be made available to machine learning and other new technologies that will help in improving the use and dissemination of projects’ knowledge thus eliminating the final information barrier.

Conclusion

In conclusion, organizations who are keen in improving their insight to make better and faster informed decisions as well as make use of the everyday knowledge gained in delivering projects to become more efficient and knowledgeable, have no other choice but to use to technology to take advantage of their projects’ information. Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) like PMWeb is an example of how readily available technology today can remove the barriers for improvement, otherwise, you might be forced to play Chinese Whispers.

How to Get Real-Time Financial Transparency When Delivering Real Estate Projects?

For real estate investors and developers, project financial performance reporting goes beyond managing the project budget, commitments, changes and actual costs. They require managing the income or revenue generated from selling, leasing or any other source of income that is needed to calculate the Return on Investment (ROI). Further, they need their project management team to be aware of what has been sold or leased to ensure that those assets are delivered in accordance to the contract terms and conditions signed with the tenant. In addition, they need to have details of the funding available to finance the project and how much funds are still available to finance the remaining project’s scope of work.

Why a Project Management Information System (PMIS) Is Needed?

Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb comes ready with out-of-the-box modules needed by the real estate investor to achieve all of those reporting requirements in addition to the many other every day processes needed to manage the project. PMWeb allows creating the project budget which could be generated from PMWeb cost estimating module or just added or pasted from MS XLS. The budget request module allows managing all budget transfers, omissions and additions to maintain the project budget. The revenue module allows capturing the details of all sales, leases and income contracts as well as capturing all changes to those contracts, invoices issued and actual payments received against invoices. The commitment module is used to capture all expenses contracts including design, project management, professional services, construction contracts and subcontracts, material supply purchase orders, marketing and any other internal or external contracts. For all those expenses contracts, PMWeb will also capture potential change orders as well as pending, approved and disputed change orders. PMWeb will also capture the actual cost incurred against expenses contracts as well as other miscellaneous invoices and cost of own company resources, labor and non-labor charged against the project using timesheets. PMWeb will also capture the details of actual payments made against approved actual cost invoices. Finally, PMWeb funding module allows capturing details of all available project funding, funding requests and authorized funds released for the project. All those financial transactions are recorded in a cost ledger to allow creating the project financial performance cost worksheet that will provide a single version of the truth of the project financial status.

Setting the Financial Performance Platform

Before proceeding with managing the project financial performance, the organization needs to define and standardize the project cost breakdown structure, financial periods and whether multiple currencies will be allowed in managing the project’s financial transactions or not. Those are also required to enable the organization to reconcile PMWeb financial transactions with the organization’s ERP or accounting system should there be a need to do so.

Usually, there will be a single cost breakdown structure (CBS) or cost account numbers that is used by the organization in reporting their projects’ financial performance across their project investments portfolio. It will consist of multiple levels to detail the level of control that the organization wants to exert in managing their investments and other financial transactions.

In addition, the organization needs to define the project financial periods also known as accounting periods which are an established range of time in which accounting functions are performed, aggregated and analyzed including a calendar year or fiscal year. The accounting period is useful in investing because potential shareholders analyze the company’s performance through its financial statements that are based on a fixed accounting period.

Should the organization want to allow the use of multi-currency in the different project financial transactions, then this option needs to be activated. PMWeb allows multi-currency at line item level for each financial record. The exchange rates can be fixed or linked to a currency exchange portal where the organization can select the frequency for updating the exchange rates.

Setting and Managing the Project Budget

The project budget is the investment that the organization has approved for the project investment. It is usually managed during the design development stages and new versions might be created but there should be only one approved budget version and all other past versions need to be withdrawn. During the early project life cycle stages, it is recommended to link each budget line item to the corresponding project schedule activity. This will enable the organization to have a projection of the budget spending that is mapped to the project financial periods. PMWeb allows selecting different projection curves, linear, bell shaped, front and back loaded, to distribute the allocated budget for each line item.

When the project is confirmed as a go for execution and the start date is fixed, it is recommended to manually distribute the budget of each line item to each financial period to reflect the anticipated planned budget spending. Of course, the distribution curves continue to be available if needed.

After this stage, all changes and adjustments to the approved project budget needs to be managed using the budget request module. Through that module, budget transfers from one cost account to another whether they are for the same project or to other projects, increasing the budget or reducing the budget will be performed. The transfers will be specific to each cost center as well as financial period. The budget adjustment request module will usually have a pre-defined workflow with the different possible conditions and rules to ensure that the right review and approval levels are carried out.

Managing the Project Revenue

PMWeb revenue module will be used to capture the details of each asset that will be either sold or leased. It will be a contract agreement between the investor organization, who is the seller and the buyer. The contract agreement could be a for a single or group of apartments, villas, warehouses, commercial spaces among others. For each contract, line items will be added to match the payment terms of the contract agreement. The organization can pre-define those payment terms in PMWeb to enable selecting and dragging the relevant terms to each contract instead of manually adding them. Each payment line item needs to be linked to its relevant financial period.

Some of the tenants might require changes or modifications to what was included in the original sale or long-lease agreement for which a change order will be created. The change order will detail the cost of all those new requirements which will result in a revised contract agreement. A workflow can be set to the change document to ensure the required approvals and sharing of the change details is transmitted to the right project team members.

When the dates for the payments, as per the approved contract, are due, an invoice will be issued. The invoice will reflect what was already paid in the previous invoices and the balance due. Again, a workflow can be assigned to the invoice to ensure the required reviews and approvals are secured before having the approved invoice.

Managing the Project Commitments

The real estate investor will award commitment contracts for executing the project scope of work. Those could be contracts for marketing, design, project management services, site supervision, construction, material supply among others. The commitment contracts could also include internal company contracts. For example, assume the real estate investor has a department for marketing, the organization could have a contract with the marketing department for delivering this scope of work. Similar approach could have been done for the PMO, real estate development department among others. The commitment contracts usually have terms and conditions that relate to retention, advance payment, advance payment recovery, tax, tax withheld, VAT among others.

One of the good practices that is being adopted in most capital projects today, is to require the contractor to provide the anticipated payment schedule for the work included in their contract agreement. This is more specific to what is known for many as the “cost loaded schedule”. Unlike the cost loaded schedule where the distribution for payments is projected over the activity duration using one of the available projection curves, PMWeb allows the organization to exactly specify the amount of anticipated cost that will be invoiced for each financial period. This will help the real estate investor to better anticipate the payments to be made to better manage the project cashflow and funding requirements.

Similar to all contracts, changes could happen. Those could be as a result of new scope of work, unforeseen site conditions, new laws and compliance requirements, non-availability of specified materials, weather conditions among many others. One of the recommended practices is to capture all potential changes that might impact the project’s final cost at completion as soon as they are identified by the contractors and other project team members.

This will allow the project management team to review those potential changes and decide if they represent actual changes to the project scope of work or needs to be rejected. If those potential change orders have some kind of merit, the project management team will initiate the change management process using the change request template. The reviews and approvals needed for a change request might require going into different iterations which will be identified in the workflow steps and actions. The workflow will also include conditions to enforce the approval authorities level which is usually linked to the change request value. Adding the approved change request values to the original commitment contract value will provide the revised contract value while adding all pending potential change orders and change requests as well as disputed change requests to the revised contract value will calculate the projected commitment contract value.

Actual Cost

The actual cost reporting will include the approved progress invoices for all commitment contracts, miscellaneous invoices and the cost of the real estate investor own resources, labor and non-labor in managing the project delivery. At the end of each progress period, all consultants, contractors and suppliers need to submit their invoice for the work completed during the past financial period. The percent complete assessment for the completed work can be manually added or imported from the project schedule if the contract line items are associated with schedule activities. In addition, PMWeb provide the option to use the actual quantities of work completed if this will be the method to be used to assess the monthly progress invoice.

In addition to progress invoices against commitment contracts, the real estate investor would need to capture all miscellaneous invoices that could be needed to pay for the land purchase and fees, local authorities’ permits, site offices and supplies among others.

The real estate investor will usually have his own resources involved in managing the project delivery. Those are the resources that are not part of the internal company contracts explained above as otherwise the real estate investor will end charging the cost of those resources twice. For those resources, labor and non-labor, the real estate investor will have a charge rate for each resource that is inclusive of resource direct and indirect cost. Usually there will be rates for work performed during regular working hours, weekends and holidays. On weekly basis, timesheets will be completed for all those resources reporting the actual hours spent by each resource and against which task. The hours spent could be reported as regular, weekend or holidays as this will impact the actual cost charged against the project for those resource hours.

Some real estate investors might have the requirement to import the actual cost of their corporate involvement in the project delivery from the head office ERP or accounting system. PMWeb integration module and API integration module provides those organization with different options to import and export cost data to and from PMWeb. The integration module provides easy way to build the integration while the API integration provides more advanced integration but requires system integration knowledge to build it.

Managing Project Funding

The real estate investor needs to keep track of all possible sources for project funding. Those could be internal funding, private funding, funding by banks, public funding among others. For each funding source, the real estate investor can detail what project investments will be funded by that source and the amount of funding available for each project. The funding source could be available to projects, programs or for the complete project investments portfolio for the real estate developer.

Should there be a need for funding the project, a funding request needs to be formally submitted listing the amount of funds needed and from which fund source. A workflow will be usually added to the funding request to ensure that all necessary reviews and approvals are in place.

When the funding request is approved, funds will be released using the funding authorization template. The funding authorization would require detailing the authorized funds along with the source of those funds. A workflow will be usually added to the funding authorization to ensure that all necessary reviews and approvals for releasing the funds had been secured.

Putting All the Pieces Together

The different processes detailed above are usually done by different project team members from the different entities involved in delivering the project. Those processes have different type of financial records and data that will affect the project’s financial performance. PMWeb cost ledger provides an automated single repository that will capture the details for all those transactions. The user can drilldown to the source of the reported financial transaction by just clicking on the record itself.

The financial transactions will become the real-time data source for creating the project cost worksheets. The real estate developer can have unlimited number of cost worksheets created for which each could have different type of financial values displayed. For example, a cost worksheet can be created to compare project budget with income revenue. In addition, each cost worksheet could have calculated fields based on the data captured from the different financial records.

The cost worksheet will provide the real estate investor with real time visualization of how the project investment is performing. The reported data are based on the actual financial transactions carried out on the project. The cost worksheet reader can drilldown to the data source by just clicking on any cell itself when there is a need to have more details on the reported value.

The real estate investor can produce different variety of tabular and graphical reports from the cost worksheet. Those reports can be for a specific project investment or for a portfolio projects investment. The report can be for all cost accounts or cost breakdown structure (CBS) centers or for selected centers. The report can display the cost data at detailed or summary level and can group cost data by project, program or portfolio.

Project Financial Performance Report for Executives

For executives and other stakeholders who are not involved in everyday projects financial transactions as well as those who are keen in having a bird eye view on how the project investments are performing, the data captured in PMWeb can be extracted, transferred and loaded into a business intelligence and data visualization tool like MS Power BI, Tableau, Qlik, iDashbaords among others. This will provide those stakeholders with real-time interactive dashboards that are based on trust worthy data source. In addition, those applications allow the user to associate, blend and visualize data from multiple data sources such as ERP, accounting, CRM and other type of applications with PMWeb data source. This will provide the reader with a more comprehensive status of their project investments performance.

Digital Transformation for Formal Communications in Engineering and Construction Projects

Formal communications in engineering and construction projects are a must requirement to comply with the contractual obligations set in the contract agreements between the different parties of the contract. Formal communications usually take the shape of document templates, letters and even emails if permitted under the contract. With the growing trend of construction claims and disputes, the volume of formal communications is becoming extensive and the need to effectively managing them becoming a must. Organizations who understand the great benefits that digital transformation will bring to their projects delivery, formal project communications is one of the areas that need to be covered.

Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) like PMWeb is used by organizations who seeking successfully digital transformation for their projects delivery. PMWeb can drastically improve the management of formal communications in engineering and construction projects by automating project communication processes under one single web-enabled platform. This will enable the organization to effectively issue, respond, track, search, locate, analyze and report on all types of project communications.

Document Templates

Engineering and construction projects are very much acquainted to use document templates as a method for formal project communication. Those are used for submittals, transmittals, daily reports, safety incidents, request for information (RFI), permits, authorities no object certificates, request for inspection, non-conformance report, snag list, potential change orders, change orders, progress invoices, material delivery among many others. The Construction Specification Institute (CSI), American Institute of Architects (AIA) and many other professional institutions as well as organizations have most of those document templates pre-defined. Of course, those document templates would need to be modified to suite the requirements of the projects they are used on.

PMWeb comes ready with most of those document templates as well as the PMWeb form builder is used to create the additional document templates that PMWeb does not readily have. Each document template usually has two parts, the header and the detail. The header section is usually used to capture details of the project, contract, date, phase, category, WBS Level, priority, status, document reference number, among others. Whereas the detail section will include the particulars of each document template. For example, a RFI will include the query raised by the issuer, if there is a proposed solution, the response from the consultant or the party assigned to respond, if the response is in-scope or out-of-scope of the contract, if the response could have a cost impact and if the response could have schedule impact along with which activity it will first impact.

Most of the standard content for the fields at both header and detail section of each document template will be usually selected from pre-defined list of values or calendar dates. For example, the CSI Category values will be picked from the CSI Master Format values list which will be defined by the user. PMWeb allows importing those lists’ values in bulk using MS XLS. On the other hand, for fields like WBS and Schedule Activity there is an option to populate the data when the project schedule is imported to PMWeb from Oracle Primavera P6 or MS Project.

In addition, it is very common that each document template would have documents attached to it. Those could include drawings, specifications, contract agreements, bill of quantity, insurance and performance bonds policies, catalogues and manuals, pictures, videos as well as copies of other project communications like authorities’ approvals. Using PMWeb document management repository, all those documents will be uploaded in their designated file folder along with their metadata attributes.

Those documents can then be attached to the relevant document template. In addition, the user can link other PMWeb document templates to a specific document template should those document templates have reference or relation to this document template. Further, hyperlinks to websites or online documents can be created. For project related emails which have been imported into PMWeb, those will also become available to be linked to the document template.

Document templates used for formal communication would usually have a workflow for submitting, reviewing, sharing an approving or rejecting the communication. The workflow steps are usually defined in the project management plan. Those workflows should be aligned with the contract agreements used on the project to govern the relation between the contracting parties. The workflow should also take into account the approval authorities level set for financial amounts as well as the values of some of the attributes that are part of the document template. Those could include for example, specification, phase, priority among others. The value of those attributes could impact on who will be involved in the workflow review and approval steps.

Using PMWeb to automate the workflow will ensure that each document template is received by its intended recipient as per the established workflow. The workflow will establish the time allotted for each step as well as the escalation rules should the review period exceed the allotted duration. In addition, comments from the different workflow reviewers will be captured to maintain an audit trail of those comments and remarks

The data captured in those document templates will enable the organization to have real-time reports on all project communications. Those reports can be limited to the transactions associated with a single project multiple projects. For example, the Request for Information (RFI) log will list the different RFI transactions that were issued on the project along with their current status.

Using interactive business intelligence and data visualization tools like MS Power BI, provides the organization with real-time access to data analytics to analyze project communications performance trends, correlations, growth and exceptions.

Letters or Correspondence

During the engineering and construction project life cycle, there are many letters that are issued as part of the project’s formal communication. Those could be letter of intent, letter of award, termination letter as well as many others type of letters that are used to confirm the occurrence of an event or incident that might have an impact the project’s scope, cost or schedule. In addition, there are many other letters that although are needed but might not have impact on the project scope, cost or schedule.

For letters that could have contractual or legal implications as well as letters that are commonly issued on a project, an application like PMWeb can help in creating reusable letter templates that will not only expedite the issuance of such letters but also ensure the legal or contractual content being correctly communicated.

Of course, and similar to document templates, documents can be attached to the letter as well as links to other PMWeb records and emails can be created. Also, workflow can be assigned to the letter although this might not be needed. Nevertheless, there could be a need to email the letter to individuals who might be authorized PMWeb users or not. For this purpose, PMWeb notification will be used to email the letter. PMWeb will keep record of all those sent emails at the Notification tab of the correspondence module as well as all other PMWeb document templates, whether they were default or custom created.

Emails

There is growing trend to use emails for quick communications between the project team members. Some of those communications could be considered formal communications if they included certain instructions. PMWeb allows the organization to import those emails by setting a unique email address for each project for which any email communication need to be carbon copied (CC) to this email address, for example file@ProjectX100.com. Those imported emails can then become available to be linked to any project document template or letter in PMWeb.

Searching and Locating Project Communications

Capturing project communications in PMWeb allows project team members to search and locate communication records that include the key words to be searched for. Record search can be done across all projects or a single project, limit selection by document template type and record status. The identified records can be selected and saved in an issue file to allow the project team member to review those records and decide if they are relevant to what is being sought.

Putting it All Together

Since all project communications whether they are using PMWeb default document templates or those created using custom form builder, letters and emails along with all documents uploaded on PMWeb document management repository are stored on a single database, the project team can create a wide variety of reports and dashboards. Those could be tabular logs, graphical reports and dashboards. Regardless of the form or format of the report or dashboard, they all use the same data source. This enforce single version of the truth reporting on all project communications.

How Can Project Owners Encourage Project Fraud on Their Projects?

When projects’ owners, both in the public and private sector, fail to impose the right policies and procedures to deter fraud on their projects, they are indirectly encouraging those involved in their projects to commit actions that would lead to project fraud. Actions that would lead to increase the chances of project failure by increasing the project cost, delaying the project completion, reducing the project quality, failing to meet stakeholders’ objectives among others.

The tendency to commit a fraud is very much part of every business and projects are no different specially when there is lack of governance and control. Actually, there are more chances to commit a fraud on a project than operational frauds where usually corporate policies and procedures are well enforced and internal or external audit is an on-going requirement.

Actions that could be labelled as “Project Fraud” are many but some of the most common actions include the following:

·        Unsubstantiated project decisions

·        Under-reported estimates of project cost

·        Over-reported estimates of project benefits

·        Unbalanced bids

·        Over-reported schedule performance to hide project delays

·        Wrong forecasting for cost to complete the remaining project scope

·        Unsubstantiated change orders

·        Over-estimated change orders

·        Over-reported quality progress

·        Acceptance of lower-quality deliverables that cannot be used as originally thought

·        Delayed and/or improper approvals

·        Conflict of interest and kickbacks

·        Negligence in protecting client’s interest

·        Non-compliance with the contract’s terms and conditions

·        Creating unnecessary threats by failing to comply with best practices

·        Failing to report threats before they harm the project

·        Failing to report opportunities that could have benefited the project

·        Lost or misplaced project documents

·        Appointing unqualified project team members

·        Intended wrong actions or decisions

So how can project owners stop project fraud and discourage doing the actions that could lead to project fraud?

The first step that a project owner should do is to have a clear policy on project fraud. For example, Zero-Tolerance on Project Fraud. The next step is having a detailed project management standard operating procedures manual that will detail the processes, responsibilities, accountabilities and authorities for performing those procedures.

To project management procedures manual should first identify the organization that will become responsible for managing the organization’s portfolio of projects. This could be the projects department, project management unit or project management office (PMO). The organization chart, roles and responsibilities and job description needs to be documented as they will become an integral part of the standard operating procedures manual.

This will be followed by determining the project life cycle stages that will explain how projects will be executed. The project life cycle will also detail the stage gates, or project approval gateways, that the project owner will use to determine if the project should proceed to next project life cycle stage or not.

The next step is to detail the project management procedures that will be needed to manage the delivery of the project. The level of detail of those processes will depend on the level of control that the project owner wants to exert on the project but they would usually include the following processes:

·        Project Due diligence;

·        Project Approval;

·        Formulating of a Client Brief & Approval;

·        Prequalification of Consultants;

·        Appointing Consultants;

·        Budgeting and Budget Approval;

·        Managing the Design Process and Approvals;

·        Managing Design Changes and Approvals;

·        Payment Applications and Approvals;

·        Prequalification of Contractors and Suppliers;

·        Bid Packages Preparation and Approvals;

·        Managing the Procurement Process of Contractors and Suppliers;

·        Formulating Agreements and Contract Authorization;

·        Project Commencement and Contractor’s Mobilization;

·        Construction/Supply Contract Changes and Approvals;

·        Delays, Time Extensions and Application of Penalties/ Liquidated Damages;

·        Submittals and Approvals;

·        Project Taking Over and Approvals;

·        Project Close out and Approvals;

·        Risks and Issues Management; and Others.

The details of those processes will be captured in what is known as the standard operating procedures manual which will provide the guidance on how to perform those processes for those who will become involved in the project delivery. The manual will also detail the steps for executing each process, roles and responsibilities, document templates, tabular and graphical log reports and the process key performance indicators (KPIs). Many organizations opt to develop this manual as per the ISO requirements to attain the appropriate ISO certification on those manuals.

The problem for many organizations who are serious about curbing project fraud and who have invested in developing comprehensive project management procedures manuals is the lack of having the right project management information system (PMIS) to enable the automation of those processes and make the information from the captured data available for the project team members to have the insight to do better and faster informed decisions.

The automation of project management processes requires first having the different document templates identified in the procedures manual to be available online for the right project team member to complete and initiate the process. This will also require enabling attaching all supportive documents to the document template. Having the document templates online helps in curbing actions that could lead to project fraud as not only it enforces the project team to provide the needed data in complete and correct manner, but also captures the details of who provided this information and when. In addition, it captures the actions of all other project team members who will be involved in the process of reviewing, sharing and approving the process. Most project management information systems (PMIS) also include Audit Trail as one of the default features where it tracks the actions taken by all those who have accessed the PMIS.

It should be of no surprise when one finds that many project team members would object on having a project management information system implemented on their projects. Excuses like effort and skills needed to input data, cost associated with having such a system, unwilling of contractors and consultants to provide data among others are quite common. Nevertheless, it is no different than saying that all the benefits we are getting today from automating the different government, banking and other processes are not true and we had better times when all of those processes where manual processes. The ugly truth is that those project team members want everything but transparency and governance on what they should be performing on daily basis.

Using an integrated project management information system (PMIS) like PMWeb does not limit project fraud actions to data capturing only but also limits the actions that could occur when there is a requirement to integrate projects data that are stored at different locations. When an organization is faced with what is known as “Data Silos”, one should expect project fraud actions to occur when this data integration needs to be done manually.

Financial ambiguity is one of the very common project fraud actions that occur on projects when the project commercial and financial data are not captured in an integrated format. For example, it is very common to have the project cost estimate, project budget, project bids, project awarded contracts, proposed, pending, approved and disputed change orders, progress invoices, actual payments, funding authorizations, funding release among others are stored in separate data silos. What even makes it worse, is that a project financial status cannot be viewed in isolation from other project management processes like risk management among others.

A PMIS like PMWeb provides the platform to capture all project’s data on a single web-enabled platform to enable anywhere anytime access for the authorized project team members. This will not only eliminate the “Data Silos” syndrome but will also enable creating the status and performance dashboards to provide a real-time single version of the truth of the project financial status. The dashboard will provide the needed measures and key performance indicators (KPIs) to provide an objective analysis of how the project is performing from the financial aspect. The same approach needs to be done to measure and report the project performance as it relates to schedule, deliverables, quality, safety, documents approvals among many others.

A PMIS will also help the project manager and other executives to have a real-time single version of the truth on how the project, program or portfolio of projects status and performance. This will help in curbing project fraud actions that could result when this information is manipulated, not complete or delayed. Those executives will now have the confidence when it comes to making decisions as they are now assured of the quality of the information and data provided to them. This will assure that all made decisions are substantiated with the needed project records and documents.

In addition, a PMIS will help those executives on reporting on the status of the made decisions by maintain a real-time log of those decisions and associated actions. The log will report the status of those decisions and their impact on the project objectives. One of the proven project management processes used to manage decisions is what is known as “Issue Management”.

So for project owners who are serious about discouraging fraud on their projects, there should be a commitment from top for this to happen. This needs to be translated to a clear policy on “Zero-Tolerance” when it comes to project fraud as well as have the right project organization setup and project management procedures that will enforce the implementation of this policy. This should be coupled with an integrated project management information system that will help in promoting transparency, governance and real-time single version of the truth reporting and visualization of the projects performance.

Quantifying the Benefits of Digital Transformation in Managing Capital Projects Delivery

For some organizations, investing in digital transformation when it comes for managing their capital projects delivery might require quantifying the benefits of this investment although for many, those benefits are so obvious. Actually, one should be surprised on why the engineering and construction are so much lagging behind compared to other industries when it comes to adopting technology to improve the delivery of their projects. Especially when it is known that Projects carry the risk of high cost of failure. What is even more surprising is that when this technology adoption is mainly focusing on managing everyday events and activities of projects for which executive leadership should be endorsing rather than objecting.

Categorizing Benefits

Since the focus will be limited to the benefits that digital transformation will be bring for managing capital projects delivery, the analysis will only focus on the benefits of automating the different processes that are needed to manage a capital project. The analysis will detail the benefits that this automation will bring for the organization when they are able to capture their projects BIG DATA for which they can analyze, visualize, support better and faster informed decisions and build their knowledge base.

Savings That Are Attributed to Improved Data Capturing

Regardless of the size, type, location or the organization role in delivering the project, on the average a project would have between 50 to 200 formal communication records per month. Those include correspondence, meeting minutes, transmittals, site inspection, daily reports, non-conformance reports, issues, safety incidents, submittals, permits, potential change orders, change orders, progress invoices among many others. Most of those forms are either created as hardcopy, MS XLS, MS Word or PDF file format. The completed forms are usually manually distributed, or sent via email as an attachment as per the pre-defined project’s responsibility assignment matrix (RAM) which details who should be receiving the document. The recipient of the project communication will usually decide if other reviewers need to be also involved in the review process based on his/her knowledge or understanding of the approval authorities level and the roles of those reviewers. Some organizations might also consider using collaboration applications to pre-define the workflows to distribute the PDF version of the document, nevertheless this will fall short in identifying possible variances in the workflow routing usually driven by the content and values of the record attributes which are embedded in the document itself.

Improved efficiency and quality of captured data

PMWeb have all those forms available online that can be accessed by the authorized project team members from the different organizations involved in delivering the project. Access can be limited to specific fields within a form. For fields that have pre-determined values, lists can be made created to pick those values. The default PMWeb forms comes ready with the some of the best practices in capturing project records such as WBS level, Schedule Activity, Specification Reference, Location of Works, Priority, Phase, Category among many others.

Knowing that it is almost impossible to have all needed input forms readily available by any software vendor, PMWeb custom form builder provides an easy to use solution for creating new data capturing forms in any desired form or format. The form can be English or any other language, Latin or Non-Latin like Arabic. Since PMWeb is a zero-foot-print application, it means that all those forms, whether default or custom created, will be accessible from any mobile device using the web-browser. This eliminates the need to have different applications to capture different types of project documents that are not supported by a given application.

In addition, all supportive documents that are referenced in the project communication can be uploaded into PMWeb document management repository and then attached to record. Of course, if there is no need to upload to the repository, then they can it cab uploaded directly. All those documents can be viewed and red-lined using PMWeb redlining tool as well as Bluebeam Revu for those who are looking for advanced redlining and document collaboration features.

Further, all relevant other PMWeb records can be linked to the project communication to provide immediate access to all those referenced communications. If the option of importing emails into PMWeb is activated, then all referenced email communications can be also linked to this project communication.

Improved speed in distributing and sharing captured data

Predefined workflows will submit the document to the intended reviewer in the right sequence. Audit trail of all workflow steps and comments are automatically captured. PMWeb allows delegating and replacing reviewers when they are on vacation or not assigned to the project anymore. Workflow steps can include conditions for multiple reviewers such as all must approve or anyone can approve. The workflow also includes the conditions when the submission is rejected or returned.

Eliminate the High Cost of Lack of Governance Associated with Non-Abiding with Set Approval Authorities Levels

PMWeb workflow allows adding conditions depending on the document attributes which could be financial value or any other attribute. This will enforce the workflow to branch to comply with the preset approval authorities’ levels.

Savings That Are Attributed to Improved Data Analytics

MS XLS logs are usually created for each type of project communication. For example, those could RFI log, Changes Log, NCR Log, Risk Register, Issues Log, Submittal Log, Transmittal Log among others. For each log, columns will be created to capture the specific date fields of each form. Those logs will be eventually used to analyze the data captured from the different project communications as detailed above. The content of those logs is usually limited to the main attributes of those project communications, otherwise it will take very long time to capture all details plus the increased chance to make entry mistakes. Of course, those logs are one direction only which means that the viewer cannot drilldown to the data source and have to trust what is been reported in the MS XLS log.

Eliminate the effort, redundancy, mistakes and delay associated with extracting, loading, associating, reviewing. verifying, blending, analyzing and presenting the captured data

PMWeb BI reports, tabular and graphical are created once when PMWeb is implemented. The content of those reports will be always displaying the real-time data captured in the project communication unless the report includes a filter to set the reporting time periods. The data in those reports can be grouped, sorted and filtered in any desired format. In addition, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other metrics Calculations will become part of the designed report. In other words, those tabular and graphical reports will become immediately available for all project management processes managed in PMWeb and for which access can be given to the authorized users.

In addition, interactive business intelligence and analysis tools like MS Power BI, Tableau, Qlik and others can have access to PMWeb database to provide the needed analysis. Those applications also allow associating and blending the captured PMWeb data with other applications to provide advanced business analysis. The use of such tools is growing as they provide the business user with the ability to run his/her analysis on the same real-time PMWeb database used by others.

Savings That Are Attributed to Improved Data Visualization

Reporting the projects status and performance for the different stakeholders who are either involved or affected by the project delivery is a must and not a choice. Those stakeholders would usually have different reporting needs depending on their level or involvement and the role they play in delivering the project. The multiple MS XLS logs created earlier need to be combined to create the tables needed for the dashboards. Those dashboards are usually done using MS XLS as well as data visualization tools like MS Power BI, Qlik among others. Those dashboards, and similar to the MS XLS logs created earlier are one direction only as the viewer cannot drilldown to the data source.

Eliminate the effort and delay of presenting the data in the desired format

PMWeb BI reports are used to create multi-level dashboards in the desired layout and format. The content of those reports will be based on the real-time data captured in the project communication to eliminate any delay or data manipulation. Those dashboards can be created to meet the reporting requirement of every project stakeholder. For example, there could be a projects portfolio dashboard, program or strategic initiative dashboard, project dashboard or specific management area like cost, risk, procurement, documents, schedule among others even specific to a project life cycle stage like Selection, Design, Procurement, Construction and Defects Liability. PMWeb BI Reporting also allows the stakeholder to drilldown form one dashboard to another depending on his/her reporting requirement.

Build Credibility with Stakeholders with Improved Transparency

All of the BI reports and dashboards created within PMWeb are based on the real-time project management processes captured in PMWeb. In addition, it can include data imported to PMWeb from Oracle Primavera P6 or MS Project where PMWeb has a built-in interface for both. The stakeholder can drilldown to the data source where they can view the project record along with all attachments, links to the other PMWeb records and imported emails and workflow details. This requires having the right permissions.

Savings That Are Attributed to Improved Decision Making

To certain extent, the success and failure of a project depends on the quality of made decisions and the timely execution of actions defined to implement taken decisions. The decision maker will usually depend on his/her team to provide the documents and records needed to support the decision to be made. This requires searching the project files for those records and documents which is not only time-consuming but might be incomplete. When the decision is made, regardless how good it is, the decision maker needs to ensure that the project team assigned to implement the decision are effectively collaborating to implement their assigned actions. The decision maker needs to depend on the document controller to maintain the MS XLS log used to keep track the taken decisions. Due to the confidential data that some decisions could entail, the decision maker might decide to maintain the MS XLS on their own.

Eliminate the High-Cost of misinformed Decisions

The decision maker can have access to all PMWeb records. The search option allows searching and locating all project records that could be relevant to certain topic. Records can be related to relevant records to allow tracing all related communications for a specific topic before taking a decision. There is no lag in providing the latest data and information to the decision maker.

Eliminate the High Cost of non-Implemented Decisions

PMWeb Action Management allows capturing all decisions along with the specific tasks assigned to each project team member to perform and when. In addition, the assigned project team will be invited to collaborate on the decision to report the progress and actions taken to implement the decision. Similar to other PMWeb records, the project team member can attach all supportive documents as well as create links to other related PMWeb records and imported email.

Eliminate the High Cost of Manual Tracking the Status of Executed Decisions

PMWeb Decisions Report will be based on the real-time data of the status of every decision made and update provided by the project team members. Business Analysis visualizations cab be added to the report to improve the reporting analysis. Similar to all other PMWeb logs and dashboards, the decision maker can drilldown to each specific decision and review the particulars of that decision.

Savings That Are Attributed to Improved Knowledge Management

Only data captured electronically like the one in MS XLS logs can be made available for knowledge management. This data might not be complete and might not have the right attributes to better categorize and classify the gained knowledge. In addition, data captured in MS XLS for each project will be in different silos that is not easy to relate and consolidate. This will even become worse when the organization has many projects for which we will have data islands each contain data silos. This could be make the captured knowledge of very little value and use specially as it will not be easy to query, update, maintain and share as well as not much trusted.

Eliminate the High Cost of Wasted Valuable Knowledge Gained from Projects Execution

All real-time data captured for the different project management processes in PMWeb including the lessons learned process will become available for knowledge management. BI Reports can be designed to better organize and present the gained knowledge. In addition, PMWeb custom forms can be used to create lesson learned template to proactively capture the gained knowledge. Project team members and other users can access the data captured in PMWeb by using query language, structured or non-structured to support their decision-making process. They can also request for BI Reports to present the data they need to make a decision in the desired form and format.

Conclusion

No one can doubt the benefits and savings that digital transformation can bring for delivering capital projects. To quantify the value of the many benefits of this digital transformation, for which some where listed above, depends on the organization who understands the positive impact of this change. Having said so, change is never easy even if it will bring a lot of benefits whether those are financial benefits or benefits the will enforce governance.  Nowadays and more than ever, organizations have the obligation to be transparent and curb actions or lack of actions that encourage project fraud.

How To Assess and Report The Efficiency of Professional Services Resources on Capital Projects?

Organizations involved in delivering capital projects are always keen on ensuring that their estimated effort and cost for managing those projects are inline to what was originally estimated. Regardless of the role of organization whether it is the project owner, project management consultant, engineering consultant, contractor or any other entity, the need to find out if the actual cost of professional resources employed to deliver their assigned scope of work was in accordance to what was originally planned or not.

What Resources to be Managed

One of the functions of a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb is to provide executive management with this information. The first step should be defining the resources, labor and non-labor resources that the organization will be interested to manage. For Labor resources, they will include all roles that are usually part of each capital project delivery. As for non-labor, those could include site offices, staff cars, CAD stations among others. PMWeb allows capturing all possible details of each labor resource including date of hire, contacts, default working hours among many others.

For non-labor resources, again PMWeb allows capturing all possible details for those details including the GIS location should there be a need to track the locations of those resources. Of course, the default attachment tab allows uploading all catalogues, brochures, certificates among others.

PMWeb allows defining the cost rates for those resources. The rates could vary between regular, overtime, premium and other type of possible resource charges. The rates will be assigned for type of resource classification defined by the organization.

What Cost Centers Resources Will Be Charged Against

One of the key objectives of managing the professional resources cost is to determine their impact on the project’s performance budget. Therefore, it is highly recommended to define the cost breakdown structures that will be assigned to those resources which could vary depending on the type of work performed by the resource as well as the project life cycle stage where this work performed. The multi-level cost breakdown structure (CBS) will be part of the project overall CBS and it should be aligned to the CBS used by the organization on other applications.

Determining the Resources Required to Deliver The Capital Project

The project schedule will be used to define the project life cycle stages and the tasks that details what activities the professional services team will be assigned to deliver. The level of details of those tasks depends on the level of control that the organization wants to exert on managing those professional services resources. PMWeb scheduling module will be used to create this work plan.

The organization can also assign the resources required for each task. Those assignments will not be used to manage the resources but just to provide an overall understanding of what resources are needed for each task. The assigned resources will include both labor and non-labor resources.

Mapping the Line of Authorities

The organization chart for managing the capital project could vary depending on the project life cycle stage. There could be an organization chart for the initiation stage, design stage which could also change between the concept and schematic phases and the detailed design development phases, procurement, construction and defects liability stage. PMWeb Organization Chart module will be used to define the organization chart for each stage showing the line of authorities for the needed resources for each stage.

Formal Appointment of The Required Resources

The next step is to book and assign the resources needed for each project management task within each phase as defined in the project schedule. Of course, there is also an option to book the resources for each type of PMWeb process, for example Budget or Budget adjustments. Nevertheless, this is not recommended as can prove to be very complicated to manage. For each task, PMWeb resource requirement will allow defining the resources, labor and non-labor, along with the start and finish dates for each resource and the number of hours needed per day. Those hours can be assigned as regular, overtime or premium type of hours. This will become the basis for calculating the estimated cost of resources.

Capturing Actual Resource Hours

During the project execution, the actual resource hours spent against each project management task within each stage will be captured using PMWeb timesheet module. Actual reported hours can be reported as regular hours, overtime, premium or any other type of defined hours category. This is important as the actual cost of those consumed resources will be determined using the rate for each type of hour charge. The CBS level for each resource charge should be also selected. Similar to all other PMWeb modules, a workflow can be assigned to the timesheet to formalize the submit, review and approve steps.

Reporting the Estimated and Actual Resources Cost

PMWeb cost ledger will automatically capture the estimated cost of booked resources done using the resource requirement module and the actual cost of spent resources using the timesheet module. This cost data will become available for the cost worksheet module where the organization can define a worksheet that details the estimated, actual and actual cost of resources employed on the project. PMWeb cost worksheet allows defining formulas to do the needed variances and key performance metrics.

The organization can define unlimited number of cost worksheets to display the project cost information in any desired format. The cost worksheet could be for a single project or multiple projects. The cost worksheet can be exported in MS XLS format to enable the organization to further analyze and report on the captured resources data.

Assessing the Performance of Booked Resources

PMWeb provides the organization with the option to score each booked resources’ assignment. The scoring could be related to the quality of work delivered by the assigned resources for the scope of work assigned, meeting the target completion date, estimated hours versus actual hours, among others. The scoring is very diverse and could be based on Yes/No, values, dates, selection from pre-defined list of values among others. In addition, each score could have a weight value to enable having an overall weighted performance score.

The same scoring is also available for the organization chart, nevertheless, the scoring criteria and values could differ or could be the same. It all depends on how the organization wants to score the actual performance of the assigned professional services resources. The scoring list of questions and weights could be pre-defined to become standard that the organization can use across all projects they are managing or involved with.

If the organization is interested in appraising the performance of each specific labor resource, then PMWeb custom form builder can be used to create the resource appraisal template. The template will list the score points available for each appraisal question. The weight factor for each appraisal question can be also be part of the custom form.

The data captured in the custom form and similar to the data captured in all other PMWeb forms will become available for the organization to report on and analyze the results. For example, the report below details how each resource has scored against the appraisal questions with color indicators for those who have achieved good or bad results.

Reporting the Resources Performance

The trust-worthy data captured from the different forms used in planning and managing the labor and non-labor resources assigned to deliver the professional services that are part of the organization scope of work, will become available for creating the needed performance analysis reports and dashboards. Those reports and dashboards will provide the organization with immediate alert of undesired performance trends as it relates to planned productivity rates and budget cost.

Why Digital Transformation for Capital Projects is a Must and not a Choice?

No one can deny that capital projects are the least in adopting digital transformation compared to other industries and practices. This lack of digital transformation is not only wasting the opportunities that organizations could have from improved efficiency in doing everyday project related processes but increasing the high-cost risks associated with lack of transparency and accountability, access to reliable and timely projects’ big data, faulty projects performance reporting, make misinformed decisions and repeated mistakes.

Digital transformation for capital projects delivery should at least address the following areas:

Project Management Information System. This is an integrated platform like PMWeb where the organization will use to automate all project management process, analyze the performance of those processes, share projects performance details with the stakeholders, support the project-related decision-making process and capture the reuse the knowledge gained from performing the project management processes.

Planning and Scheduling. Applications like Oracle Primavera P6 will be used to develop and maintain the project’s implementation schedule. This can also be improved by using Oracle Primavera Risk Analysis to identify the impact of risks on project’s confidence level in meeting the target milestone dates.

Cost Estimating. Applications like Nomitech CostOS will be used to develop the project cost estimate regardless of the level of detail. Cost estimates will be linked to cost database that can be specific to the organization or use third party cost database application.

Building Information Modelling (BIM). Applications like Autodesk Revit will be used to develop the project design scope of work and drawings. The BIM 3D data can be integrated with the project schedule to create the 4D and cost estimate to create the 5D. BIM 3D data can be also integrated with the PMIS when issuing RFIs, Submittals, Change Orders among other project communications.

Digital Signature. Applications like DocuSign will be used to digitally sign project documents to enable using them in formal communications instead of having hard copy of project communications.

Internet of Things (IoT). RIFD sensors which will be used to capture labor and equipment movements and details, tagged to procured material and equipment assets, gas and temperature sensors, air wind and other type of sensors.

Video Recording. Drones and fixed site cameras are used to capture details of projects’ performance, site security and site conditions. The captured videos and still pictures can be further used to for quantity takeoff, site analysis among others.

In this article, we will only focus on the Project Management Information System (PMIS) and how an application like PMWeb can help those involved in delivering capital projects to drastically improve their current practices that lack this digital transformation. The assessment will focus on the five-areas that digital transformation will add value to the capital projects delivery. Those are data capturing, data analysis, data visualization, decision making and knowledge management.

Data Capturing

PMWeb PMIS allows the organization to automate the processes needed to manage the project’s delivery. Those could be processes that relate to project scope, schedule, quality, human resources, communications, risks, procurement, stakeholder, health and safety, financial, claims, sustainability among others. For each process, there will be an input form to capture the right data along with all supportive documents. Although PMWeb comes ready with most forms, nevertheless the custom form builder allows creating any needed additional forms in any desired language. Each form will be assigned a workflow to map the resources who are assigned to submit, review and approve the process in accordance with the set roles authorities’ levels. For example, a change order that exceeds certain amount might requires additional approval level.

Data Analysis

The real-time data captured by the PMWeb forms will become available for the authorized project team members to review and analyze to identify performance trends, data correlations, transactions growth and transactions exceptions. The data can be visualized in tabular or graphical format to improve the analysis and communicating the results of the analysis. The analysis is also used to forecast the impact on at completion project objectives based on actual performance achieved to date.

Data Visualization

One of the key objectives to achieve project success is engaging the right stakeholders in the project delivery. Those stakeholders are keen on being informed of the single version of the truth of the capital projects delivery status. The need of what to visualize vary depending on the stakeholder role, interest and influence on the project. Therefore, dashboards are the best method to communicate projects’ performance status with stakeholders. Dashboards could be designed to report on projects’ portfolio performance, program or strategic initiative performance or just a single project performance. For some stakeholders, their interest might be limited to the project’s financial performance or other specific aspect of a project.

Decision Making

Having the insight to make better and faster informed decisions could be to a large extent what will make a project delivery to succeed or fail. The real-time data analysis provides the decision maker with the needed information needed to make the best decisions as well as assess the impact that this decision could have on the project’s objectives. In addition, an application like PMWeb provides the decision maker with process to capture those decisions and the actions identified to implement the taken decision. The action management process provides the platform for those assigned resources to collaborate and communicate the status of their actions until all have been executed. This will enable the decision to have real-time tacker of all decisions made and their status.

Knowledge Management

It has always been said that 70% of knowledge management is achieved when it is recorded. Having a PMIS like PMWeb, the content of all project management processes captured become immediate knowledge. In addition, by enforcing lessons learned process, the knowledge gained by the project team members can captured and shared with the project delivery team. Many organizations would have the contribution of lessons learned as an integral component of project team members performance appraisal.

Conclusion

Organizations who have started adopting digital transformation on their capital projects delivery understand more than any other organizations the value of this decision. The risk of incurring the high cost in terms of inefficiency in managing project processes, misplaced project records and documents, project fraud and unauthorized actions, disengagement of stakeholders, wrong decisions, lack of accountability and collaboration, wasted knowledge among many others could be drastically reduced when proper digital transformation is implemented.

It is well understood that for some organizations, digital transformation could be an investment that might not be considered as a priority, nevertheless if the massive savings of digital transformation is taken into account, then the digital transformation decision could have the return of investment (ROI) that far exceeds any other investment that the organization might be considered. Actually, it is an investment that could be for itself in few months compared to others.

Managing Capital Projects Life Cycle Stages: The Project Defects Liability Period Stage

The defects liability period is a set period of time after the construction project has been completed during which a contractor has the right to return to the site to remedy defects. A typical defects liability period lasts for 12 months. During this period, it is actually the contractor’s responsibility to identify and rectify defects, not the project owner, so if the project owner does bring defects to the contractor’s notice, they should make clear that this is not a comprehensive list of all defects. The contractor needs to rectify all reported defect and make them good within a reasonable time.

Construction Closeout Checklist

It is a must to obtain stakeholder, or end users, acceptance of the project result. This means that the stakeholder agrees that the quality specifications of the project parameters have been met. In order to make this go smoothly, the stakeholder and project manager must have a well-documented criteria of performance in place from the beginning of the project. This can be achieved by having pre-defined project close-out document templates for each deliverable type. PMWeb custom form builder will be used to create Handover of Closeout Items document template. There will be different templates for each deliverable type. For example, there will be document template for Operations and Maintenance Manuals, Testing and Commissioning, Training Manuals, Master Keys, Spaces, Equipment, Spare Parts, Warranties, Completed Final Snag List, As-Built Drawings among others.

Capturing Project Assets

Project owners who will be responsible for maintaining and operating the completed project’s assets need to maintain a detailed register of all those assets where they can capture all defects requests either identified by the contractor or raised by the users of those assets. PMWeb assets breakdown structure helps the organization to capture the details of all those assets. The assets catalogues, operation and maintenance manuals among other related documents can be uploaded into PMWeb document management repository and attached to the asset.

Spare Parts Inventory

Most construction contracts require the contractor deliver spare parts for the equipment and other assets that were delivered as part of the contract. Project owners might take delivery of those spare parts and store in their warehouses or keep them as the vendor or supplier own warehouses. Regardless which warehouse those spare parts will stored at, the project owner needs to maintain a register of those spare parts. PMWeb inventory module allows the project owner to capture the details of all those spare parts and their locations.

Defects Requests

To ensure that all reported defects are captured and actioned by the contractor without delay, the project owner must impose a process for submitting those requests and ensuring that the contractor is made aware of those requests so he can rectify at the earlier. PMWeb defects request module will be used by the project owner team and other authorized users to report those defects requests. It is recommended to attach pictures of the reported defect to provide the contractor with better understanding of what needs to be rectified.

Work Orders

Work Orders will provide the details of the work done by the contractor to rectify the reported defect. The work order will be generated from the defect requests submitted by the project owner. When the rectification is completed by the contractor, the workflow associated with the work order will ensure that the work order is received by the project owner to review and approve.

Asset Performance Reporting

The data captured in the asset definition, spare parts at the inventory location, defects work requests and defects work orders among others will become available to the organization to report on it in any desired format. The report displayed below is an example of an asset report that can provide executives at the organization with details on the asset performance.

Capturing Lessons Learned

Capturing lessons learned and knowledge gained should never be limited to a specific project life cycle stage. Organizations who are keen on becoming a learning organization where continuous development is a must and not a choice, they need to formally implement the capturing of lessons learned process. A lesson learned form will be created using PMWeb custom form builder where each project team can share his or her knowledge using this template. The form will have attributes for those lessons learned to improve categorizing and reporting this shared knowledge. The workflow assigned to the lesson learned from will ensure formal reviews of this contributed knowledge before making it available for the organization’s team members.

Reporting on Lessons Learned

The data captured in the lessons learned will become available for the organization to report on it in a format that will make it easy for the users to locate the needed knowledge. In addition, other reports can be created to assess the contribution provided by the different project team members to appraise those who are more active than others in sharing knowledge. Of course, this will take into consideration the quality of shared lessons learned.

Sustainability Report

Today there is growing trend among public sector organizations as well as large private sector organization on reporting on their projects contribution the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Sustainability Development Goals (SDG). Those organizations need to report on how their projects have contributed to the three perspectives of those goals: Environment, Society and Economy. To achieve this, the organization needs to identify the planned contribution that the project will have for the SDG 17 goals when completed. This will be monitored and assessed during the project execution until final delivery. Using PMWeb custom form builder, the Sustainable Project Management report will be created to capture this information every quarter.

The sustainability assessment data from all projects that are being delivered by the organization will them become available to be reported on. The dashboard displayed below is an example of how an organization is using the sustainability performance data to report the contribution of their projects portfolio toward achieving the UNDP Sustainability development goals (SDG). The dashboad shows the contribution against Environment, Society and Economy perspectives and an overall SDG performance.