Organizations involved in delivering capital project investments understand that failing to manage those investments could increase the likelihood of incurring the risk of project failure. A risk that as per the Project Management Institute (PMI) pulse of the profession, organizations could lose an average of $97 million for every $1 billion invested, due to projects failure.
Implementing the professional practices of project management along with needed stakeholder sponsorship while using technology available today to enforce transparency, accountability and single version of the truth monitoring and evaluation of projects’ performance can drastically reduce the chances for incurring this high-cost risk. Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) like PMWeb provides those organizations with almost ready to use integrated platform to manage all project management processes across the complete project life cycle. PMWeb also provides highly-customized dashboards to get stakeholders the information they need to keep them continuously engaged in the projects delivery.
Although organizations might define different project life cycle stages for their project investments, nevertheless they all agree that those stages need to identify what needs to be managed to convert the idea or the need that the project investment is undertaken to convert into a tangible product that can be operated to generate the desired income or benefit. Accordingly, we will assume the following five project life cycle stages: Selection, Design, Procurement, Construction and Defects Liability.
Managing the Project Selection Stage
Organizations who invest in capital projects might have different approaches for selecting the projects that will be approved for delivery. For example, private investors might look into projects with high return on investment (ROI) while having acceptable risk exposure while public sector organizations will look into projects that are needed to achieve the country’s strategic goals and objectives. Nevertheless, they both start from the same point and that is the need to identify those projects to be reviewed, assessed and evaluated to decide if they will be approved for delivery or not.
PMWeb project form provides the organizations with a comprehensive template for capturing the complete particulars and attributes of each possible project investment. Additional fields can be added to capture additional data that could be specific to each organization or even project type or location. Knowing that some of this data could not be readily available when a project is first identified, this data can be updated as when this information becomes available for the project initiator.
If the identified project is part of an existing strategic initiative or program which has other interrelated projects, then this new project opportunity needs to be linked to this program. PMWeb program module will enable the organization to capture the details of each program they are investing in and the projects that are part of that program. Again, additional data can be added to the program module should this be needed.
Some organizations might have the need for the entity requesting the project to have a business case formally submitted for the project investment where it will be subject to formal review and analysis before it is approved or rejected. The business case template, which could vary from one entity to another, will be created in PMWeb using the custom form builder. Similar to other PMWeb forms, all supportive documents will be attached to the business case. The business case will also have a workflow to identify those who will be involved in reviewing, analyzing and approving the business case. When approved or rejected, the business case form will be linked to the project form created earlier.
The business case could also include documents that were produced by other stakeholders using other applications. For example, for private project investors, a feasibility study is a must for all project investments to be considered. Applications like Argus EstateMaster is usually used to do such assessment taking into consideration the cost and revenue model, financing cost, sensitivity analysis among others. Those documents are usually saved in PDF file format and uploaded into PMWeb document management repository. PMWeb document management repository allows maintaining different versions of uploaded documents including the feasibility report. This report can then be attached to the business case form allow viewing it when needed.
The data captured from the project form, business case and other sources will provide the project investments review committee with the data needed to perform their project investment analysis. Business Intelligence (BI) applications like MS Power BI among others are usually used to perform and visualize such analysis. Those applications can extract, transform, load, associate, blend, analyze and visualize data form different data sources to provide the information needed to make their decisions.
This analysis and information will provide the organization with the data needed to complete the project scoring to determine the attractiveness of this project investment to the organization. The selection scorecard can include all the attributes and associated weights that the organization needs to consider when deciding of the project is a go or no go. Workflow will be assigned to scorecard to ensure that the formal approval process is implemented.
The possible project investments log will provide the organization with a real-time register of all investment opportunities identified by the organization regardless if they were approved, pending approval, rejected, on hold or any other status. The log could include visuals to group projects by status, type, sponsor among others. For organizations who have the interest to visualize this data on a map, the same can be also done as each project created in PMWeb with the Latitude, Longitude and Elevation details for GIS mapping.
When is the project formally approved, the assign project management team needs to prepare the project charter to formally launch the project. The project charter is a statement of the scope, objectives, and participants in a project. It provides a preliminary delineation of roles and responsibilities, outlines the project objectives, identifies the main stakeholders, and defines the authority of the project manager. It serves as a reference of authority for the future of the project. The terms of reference are usually part of the project charter. PMWeb custom form builder will be used to create the project charter in accordance to what the organization wants to capture.
One of the best practices that all projects must adopt is having their Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to the desired level of control. The WBS will become the basis for defining the project’s scope of work in terms what is included and what is excluded, delivery schedule, budget, procurement strategy, awarded contracts as well as the level of performance monitoring, controlling and reporting. As a best practice, it is recommended that the WBS level 2 reflects the project life cycle stages. This will enable the project management team to decompose the scope of work of each stage to the required control level.
Another best practice that will help in mapping the project deliverables across the complete project life cycle is known as the stage gates. For each project life cycle stage which is aligned with the WBS level 2, the project management team will identify the SMART deliverables of each stage. Those are specific, measurable, approved, realistic and time bound deliverables. For example, SMART deliverables could be the Letter of Award, Notice To Proceed, Project Charter, Baseline Schedule, Performance Budget, Risk Register, Tender Documents, List of Qualified Bidders, Substantial Completion Certificate, Project Handover Certificate among others. PMWeb stage gate module will be used to define the project life cycle stages and SMART deliverables.
For many organizations who are keen in enforcing project governance, requires have a formal review process for exiting a stage gate and before they permit proceed with the following project life cycle stage. This requires defining a Stage Gate Review form where it could be common to all stage gates or could differ. PMWeb custom form builder will be used to develop this form along with the workflow to formally submit, review and approve the completion of a project life cycle stage.
With the formal approval of the project selection stage, the organization will proceed to the design stage. As explained earlier, the design stage can be further decomposed into Concept, Schematic, Design Development and Construction Document stages. For those organizations who are seeking more control on the design development stage, this can be further decomposed into 30%, 60% and 100% design development stages.