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.