Is It Not Time to Improve the Delivery of Design Projects? – Part 3 of 3

Getting Paid for Delivered Work

Usually at the end of each progress period, say on monthly basis, the engineering consultant will submit the progress invoice for completed deliverables. The payment requisition should reflect the payment terms that were part of the agreement. Those could include for example retention and recovery of advance payment made. PMWeb requisition module will be used to capture those details for each period. In addition, the module will capture the details of the actual payment received against the approved requisition.

Capturing the Project’s Actual Cost

The actual cost against the project is usually captured from two different sources. The first is the cost for work done by each outsourced contract including the engineering consultant own team for which a contract was created for each resource. On monthly basis, a progress invoice will be submitted to capture the approved percent complete against each deliverable for each contract. PMWeb progress invoice will be used to capture those details and the review and approval process for this progress. In addition, the module will capture the details of the actual payment made against the approved progress invoices.

The second source for actual cost are those miscellaneous invoices that could be issued during the project life cycle stages. Many design projects would have a cost line item with the client agreement for reimbursable. Those could include some of those invoices. Again, PMWeb can capture those miscellaneous invoices.

Predicting the Cost at Completion

The earned value method provides a proven method for assessing the project budget performance as well as predict the project’s cost at completion and if there will be budget overrun. PMWeb forecast module will be used to do this assessment at the end of each progress period. The project budget, planned value spending for this period, anticipated cost for this period, actual cost for this period and the earned value for this period will be calculated by PMWeb.

The project manager needs to provide the forecast to complete or cost to complete the remaining scope for each line item. This can be set to be to stage wise or deliverable wise. The estimated amount can be given as a single figure or can be broken for the different items that have contributed to this amount.

With those values provided, PMWeb will automatically calculate the earned value metrics which include the schedule variance (SV), cost variance (CV), schedule performance index (SPI), cost performance index (CPI) and variance at completion (VAC).

Reporting the Project Loss and Profit

All the cost and financial transactions that were encountered on the project will be automatically captured in PMWeb cost ledger. This data will then become available for the PMWeb cost worksheet module which although similar to MS Excel spreadsheet, but the content data is captured from each cost module. The user can design what columns to display as well as what calculations to add between those columns and other cost data to produce the needed cost worksheet. Of course, there is no limit to the different layouts and design that can be created.

Capturing Project Communications

Similar to any project or even any business, there are many type of communications that takes place during the project life cycle stages. For most engineering consulting offices, the data communicated in those communications are badly managed and captured. Massive volume of valuable data get wasted every hour of every day during the project duration. Informal communications that can add very little value in supporting disputes negotiations and resolutions. The trend of no transparency and no accountability tend to be the preferred trend with the absence of proper formal communication.

Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb comes ready with the most important type of communications that will take place in delivering projects. In addition to the contract and cost management communications explained earlier, communications such as RFI, Meeting Minutes, Transmittals, Action Items, Daily Reports, Submittals, Correspondence and many others are ready to use out-of-the-box. All of those forms can be improved by adding user defined fields, attach supportive documents, link to WBS levels and workflow can be added to enforce the formal submit, review and approval processes.

Additional communications like issues, permits, data collection reports, LEED certification, project SWOT analysis, project functional components, project communication plan, official approval forms for the different design submissions, design review comments, design submissions approval or rejection letters, value engineering savings, no objection certificates, design stages approval, progress reports among many others can be created in any desired format using the PMWeb custom form builder. Those forms can be created in any desired language as some of the forms specially in the MENA and GCC region needs to be in Arabic. Supportive documents can be attached to those documents and workflow can be added to enforce the formal submit, review and approval processes similar to any other form in PMWeb.

Tabular and graphical reports in any desired format can be created to track the status of those communications. In addition, dashboards can be created to report on the performance trends of those documents and if they are in compliance with the target performance trends.

Reviewing, Sharing and Commenting on Project Deliverables

The many types of project communications might require the design team and other stakeholders to review the project deliverables such as drawings, technical specifications, agreements, bill of quantities among the many other documents. PMIS solutions like PMWeb provides this functionality by either using their own redlining tools or more advanced third party applications. Those tools usually would allow redlining those attachments and adding comments.

With building information modeling (BIM) is on the growth to be used during the project design stages, the PMIS needs to allow viewing those BIM regardless of their level of detail. The PMIS needs to allow viewing the model and selecting BIM objects which can be attached with the desired project communication. PMWeb BIM Model viewer enables the project team members to do this.

Real-Time Single Version of the Truth Projects Portfolio Performance Reporting

With all of the projects performance data captured on a single database repository, executives, senior management, project managers and other stakeholders will have access to a real-time single version of the truth projects portfolio performance reporting. Thus, giving those stakeholders the needed information and knowledge to make better and faster informed decisions. It is estimated that organizations who continue to use MS Excel to report their projects performance, waste more than 60% of their most valuable resources time on capturing, combining, analyzing, verifying, presenting and sharing projects’ performance data. This is coupled with an average delay of at least five working days between the time data was captured and time it was presented.

Using PMWeb PMIS, the performance reporting is always real-time unless the organization does not want to display real time but more of a specific cut-off date. The business intelligence reporting tool is used to aggregate the already captured in the desired format, apply the created calculations and formulas and then present it in any desired format. This will enable the dashboard reader to drilldown and trace the source of the data used in creating the dashboard content.

In summary, engineering consultants can improve the delivery of their design projects using the best practices of project management coupled with today’s available PMIS technology. This will help in reducing the many inefficiencies they have today in delivering the projects but also help in stopping the massive knowledge waste when data is not formally captured. It is reported that 70% of knowledge would happen when it is written down.

Having Business Intelligence Insight to Your Projects BIG DATA

In our commitment to share knowledge, CMCS is sharing a new series of presentations that will address on how to increase the value of the projects’ BIG DATA captured by PMWeb.

PMWeb helps in enforcing project governance by implementing the best practices of project management processes, transparency in capturing data, accountability by who is providing the data, traceability by locating the source of the reported data and documents, real-time tracking of actions and single version of the truth report of projects’ health and performance. This valuable and trusted data source can bring massive benefits for the project stakeholders when applying Business Intelligence (BI) reporting and analysis.

The presentations address the Cost, RFI and Submittals Management as well as a presentation on tracking projects’ documents as well as a presentation on reporting projects performance. The presentation is intended to provide an idea of the type of BI analysis that you can do on the projects data. The PMWeb data in those reports are the same data captured and stored in PMWeb. Actually, we have shown samples where you can drilldown to PMWeb application itself and review the referenced record as long as you have the right access rights.

Although the BI tool used in the BI Analysis is MS Power BI, but the same analysis could be done using other applications like Tableau, Qlik among others. The reason for using MS Power BI is that it is free, very easy to learn on your own and very powerful. It should be noted that BI Analysis tool can read MS SQL Database directly which is the database used by PMWeb.

We are planning to grow the analysis into more advanced data analytics including predictive analysis as with the trusted BIG DATA, having the insight to make better and faster informed decisions is possible with the right analysis.

Please download the presentations from those links






Hope you will find those presentations of interest.

Best Regards

Bassam Samman

Sustainable development valuable to society, environment, economy

Bassam Samman, CMCS Founder, Chairman and Group CEO article on why Sustainable development is valuable to the society, environment and economy was published by Saudi Gazette

This article will be the first of many new articles that will be published by CMCS to bring awareness on the best practices in sustainable project management and how it can it help in achieving the UNDP 17 sustainable development goals (SDG).


How to report the Performance of Sustainable Projects?

Today and more than ever, there is a growing trend among project owners to deliver projects that are sustainable. Projects that are not only delivering the project scope with the desired quality, within budget and on the needed delivery date but will also help in achieving the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity by the year 2030 (

Sustain 1Delivering sustainable projects require those organizations, in addition to the senior management commitment and support, to adopt policies and procedures that are aligned with the best practices of project management as well as the emerging best practices of sustainability to avoid ending with a Green Elephant project ( Through those policies and procedures, project owners can determine the document templates, governance workflows, logs and reports, and performance dashboards that need to be used to ensure having a successful collaboration environment to select the right sustainable projects and deliver those projects right from the first time.

Managing sustainable projects requires managing the areas of environment, society and economy in addition to the common project management areas of schedule, cost, quality, safety, risk, procurement, human resources, communications, stakeholders among others. The P5™ Standard for Sustainability in Project Management (PRiSM) by GPM Global addresses those additional areas to be managed and details how to monitor and control the three additional measurable elements to sustainability; Social aspect (People), Environmental aspect (Planet) and Economical aspect (Profit).

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This article will primarily focus on how to report the project’s sustainability performance against the three measurable elements to sustainability: Social aspect (People), Environmental aspect (Planet) and Economical aspect (Profit). This requires defining the document templates that will be used to assess and score each one of three measurable elements to sustainability. Each one of those document templates will include the areas that need to be assessed as listed in the above chart. For each area, the assessment could have a score that could range from -3 (high positive compliance) to +3 (high negative compliance). That is to say, the lower the score is, the better the project is complying with the sustainability objective being assessed. This assessment will be conducted on predetermined periodical periods to measure how good the project is complying with those objectives. The table below shows an example of a sustainability assessment for Employment and Local Procurement elements.

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It is quite possible that the assessment for each sustainability category will be carried by a different team member and that is why it is highly recommended to have a different document template for each category. That is separate ones for Planet, People and Profit. In addition, the assessor needs to attach the different project documents to support his/her assessment. This could include the Sustainability Management Plan, surveys among others. When the assessment is completed, the document template will be submitted for formal review and approval as per set the pre-agreed governance rules.

The chart below details how PMWeb Project Management Information System (PMIS) is used to automate and formalize the sustainability assessment process which follows the same approach to be used in managing other project management processes. Using PMWeb PMIS will ensure that the organization has an integrated single-platform to manage, monitor and control their complete portfolio of projects that covers all aspects of project management and sustainability best practices.

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The data captured from the different sustainability document templates will provide the project manager, project team members and other stakeholders with a real-time status of the project’s performance as it relates to achieve the desired sustainability goals. The P5 Impact Worksheet is a report that will be produced for each sustainability category based on the data captured in the relevant document template. This same data will be used to produce the project overall sustainability dashboard. The PMWeb dashboard allows drilling down from the Project Sustainability Dashboard to the P5 Impact Worksheet all the way to the document template used in capturing the sustainability scoring.

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Since the data captured from the sustainability document templates as well as other project management document templates are stored in the same PMWeb database, the project manager, project team members and other stakeholders will be able to report and visualize a single version of the truth of project’s performance. This transparency and real-time access to vital project information will provide those project managers, project team members and other stakeholders with the insight to make better and faster informed decisions.

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Project management information systems like PMWeb provides project owners with a web-enabled integrated single-platform to manage, monitor and control their sustainable projects delivery. The PMIS will capture the BIG DATA from the project management and sustainability best practices to provide real-time information on the status of all project transactions, records and documents. This in turn will provide the needed knowledge on the project’s performance and health status to provide project executives with the insight to make better and faster informed project-related decisions.


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How Can Projects Help in Achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)?

SDG GoalsFew days ago, I have attended the first anniversary event for the UNGC UAE Local Network which is taking a proactive role in supporting the different initiatives for putting UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) into action for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. An initiative that the UAE government in general and Dubai leadership in particular are fully supporting and are aiming to achieve. Actually, the recent decision by HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid in creating ministries for Youth, Happiness and Tolerance as well as renaming and restructuring other ministries are true examples of the UAE commitment to achieve those goals.

The purpose of this article it to explain how project intensive organizations can align those Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) with their project delivery to support the leadership decision to achieve those goals as well as avoid investing in Green Elephant Projects ( The proposed alignment is based on the P5™ Standard for Sustainability in Project Management (PRiSM) by GPM Global (

About the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

On September 25th 2015, the United Nations set forward 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity to achieve by the year 2030. Commonly known as the Agenda 2030, the targets invite stakeholders from the government, public and private sector to push forward in achieving those goals which include:

  • Goal 1           End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2           End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3           Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 4           Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5           Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 6           Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7           Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 8           Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 9           Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 10         Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 11         Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12         Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13         Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • Goal 14         Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • Goal 15         Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 16         Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 17         Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

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The P5™ Standard for Sustainability in Project Management

Sustain 1The P5™ Standard for Sustainability in Project Management (PRiSM) by GPM Global addresses the three measurable elements to sustainability; Social aspect (People), Environmental aspect (Planet) and Economical aspect (Profit) with the Process or Governance aspect and Product or Technical aspect of a project. That is why it was given the name of P5™ where in addition to project’s Processes and Products it covers Planet, People and Profit.

For example, on the Social Aspect, the project should address areas that relate to Labor Practices and Decent Work Employment, Labor Management Relations, Health and Safety, Training and Education, Organizational Learning, Diversity and Equal Opportunity and Trained Professional Emigration), Society and Customers (Community Support, Public Policy/ Compliance, Customer Health and Safety, Products Labeling and Services Labeling, Market Communications and Advertising and Customer Privacy), Human Rights (Non Discrimination, Freedom of Association, Child Labor and Forced or Compulsory Behavior) and Ethical Behavior (Investment and Procurement Practices, Bribery and Corruption and Anti-Competitive Behavior).

The Environment aspect, the project should address areas that relate to Transport (Local Procurement, Digital Communication and Traveling), Energy (Energy Consumed, CO2 Emission and Clean Energy Return), Water (Water Quality, Water Quantity, Water Consumption and Water Displacement) and Waste (Recycling, Disposal, Reusability, Incorporated Energy and Waste).

The third objective is the Economical aspect, the project should address areas that relate to Return on Investment (Direct Financial Benefits, Benefit Cost Ratio, External Rate of Return, Internal Rate of Return and Net Present Value) and Business Agility (Flexibility / Optionality in the Project, Increased Business Flexibility, Economic Stimulation, Local Economic Impact and Indirect Benefits).

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The P5™ Standard for Sustainability in Project Management and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Alignment

The table below details how The P5™ Standard for Sustainability in Project Management (PRiSM) aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This will provide organizations who are serious about achieving the SDG with a proven solution to incorporate PRiSM processes and actions into their existing project management delivery procedures. Those include processes that relate to performing the P5 impact analysis, define sustainability risks, developing the project sustainability management plan, define sustainability quality components, perform requirements management and P5 scoring, produce end of project report and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) materiality report among others.

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In conclusion, project intensive organizations who are keen on aligning their project investments with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to help achieving a better world by 2030 or earlier, needs to improve their current project delivery practices to incorporate the Social aspect (People), Environmental aspect (Planet) and Economical aspect (Profit). The P5™ Standard for Sustainability in Project Management (PRiSM) by GPM Global provides a great starting point.


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How to Avoid Green Elephant Projects?

Organizations that invest in projects understand that their growth and success depends on selecting the right projects and delivering those projects right from the first time. Selecting the right projects would usually depend on multiple criteria that a project owner will use to score the attractiveness of the project investment under consideration. Those criteria would usually include return on investment, risk exposure, alignment with strategic objectives among others for which each could have a different weight to show its importance.  Some of the widely used selection criteria include:

  • Will the project bring additional revenue to the business?
  • Will the project bring quality improvement to the business?
  • Will the project help the business expand into new markets?
  • Will the project generate cost reductions?
  • Will the project expand current customer base?
  • Will the project reduce risks to the business?
  • Will the project reduce time to market or cycle times?
  • Will the project increase customer satisfaction?
  • Will the project increase ROI (return on investment)?
  • Will the project represent a change in NPV (net present value)?
  • Will the project increase IRR (internal rate of return)?


This formal approach of appraising and selecting projects has helped many project owners to avoid selecting what is known as White Elephant projects. Those are the projects that cost a lot to build but which its owner cannot dispose of and whose cost, particularly that of operation and maintenance, is out of proportion to the value it brings to the organization.

Nevertheless, the current growing demand for environment-friendly projects could result in creating another type of projects, Green Elephant projects. Those are the wrongly selected environment-friendly projects that organizations have decided to invest in. Today we are seeing many of those wrong environment-friendly projects that not only depend on receiving government subsidies to build but can only sustain their operation and maintenance if they continue receiving those subsidies to offset their high cost of maintenance and operation. Those projects will not only add financial pressure on those government agencies and other donor organizations, but will result in losing the opportunity to invest in other viable and attractive projects due to the lack of available funding to invest.

It was said that the term of While Elephant derives from the story that the kings of Siam, now Thailand, were accustomed to make a present of one of those White Elephants to courtiers who had rendered themselves obnoxious, in order to ruin the recipient by the cogreen-elephantst of its maintenance. Having Green Elephant projects could have the same damaging impact on organizations and countries who fail in selecting the right environment-friendly projects to invest in.

Therefore, the project selection criteria should focus on projects that will produce the products and services to bring our world to a sustainable path. Those projects should combine the criteria for assessing projects viability from financial, strategic fit and risk exposure along with the criteria for social, economical and environmental attractiveness of a project. Only then we can expect projects to bring about an overall positive impact on our communities, cultures, societies and environments and thus avoid having Green Elephant projects.

The P5™ Standard for Sustainability in Project Management by GPM Global address those additional selection criteria. The standard addresses the three additional measureable elements to sustainability in additional to the standard measurable elements of a project which are:

  • Social aspect (People)
  • Environmental aspect (Planet)
  • Economical aspect (Profit)


GRIThe P5™ Standard for Sustainability in Project Management is aligned with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) which is an international independent organization that helps businesses, governments and other organizations understand and communicate the impact of business on critical sustainability issues such as climate change, human rights, corruption and many others. GRI produces a comprehensive framework for the preparation of Sustainability Reports, which are widely used worldwide.

GPM 13In addition, The P5™ Standard for Sustainability in Project Management is aligned with the UN Global Compact’s ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. Those ten principles enjoy universal consensus and are derived from The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and The United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

Organizations who are keen in avoid having Green Elephant projects must start adopting sustainable projects selection criteria that will enforce the best practices when it comes to Project Management aspect, Product Delivery aspect, Social aspect, Environmental aspect and Financial aspect. The P5™ Standard for Sustainability in Project Management provides a comprehensive as well as integrated methodology for achieving this objective.


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