Written by Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM
This article is the second in a three-part series on improving project design delivery.
Assigning the Project Delivery Team
Most engineering firms have departments for each different engineering discipline a project might require. That said, the project manager should have a formal process in place for requesting the specific engineering team members who will work on the project. As shown below, PMWeb’s custom form builder can be used to create a template for capturing the details of these team members. The template can be designed in a variety of formats to capture the particular details the organization requires.
Keeping Track of Assumptions
The scope, schedule, budget, and deliverables that are developed by the engineering firm are based on the scope of work specified in the RFP. However, the engineers still have to make assumptions for the project’s unknowns. These assumptions will have an impact on the project’s completion date and budget, so it’s critical that the firm maintains the risk register to not only identify the assumptions, but also to specify the engineering team’s response actions. As shown below, these details can be recorded in PMWeb’s risk register.
Reducing Risk Exposure by Outsourcing
One typical risk response action is to transfer the risk to another organization that’s better prepared to handle that risk. Indeed, engineering firms do this all the time. For example, a firm might decide to outsource the electrical design, BIM modeling, or quantity surveying to another firm. For large engineering firms, the risk might simply be outsourced to another business unit within the same company.
PMWeb’s commitment module captures the details of all these outsourced contracts. Again, it’s highly recommended to align the line items of those contracts with the project’s WBS and deliverables. This helps ensure full project scope alignment and reduces the likelihood of scope creep.
It’s also very important to attach the contract details and link all related deliverables to the outsourced contract. These documents are stored in PMWeb’s document management repository, so they can be attached to the appropriate contract.
Enforcing Efficiency and Accountability in Project Delivery
Some engineering firms have recently begun using the same project-scope outsourcing approach with their own project delivery team. Each engineering team member involved with the project’s delivery develops an agreement with the firm, which lists the number of man days that team member is budgeted to spend on the project. These man days are the full-time effort (FTE) that was estimated for producing the relevant deliverables. The team member’s performance appraisal and bonus scheme are then based around how efficient they are in staying within the estimated timeframe for delivering the original scope of work. If the man days exceed the estimated amount, this means the actual cost has exceeded what was estimated.
Assessing the Actual Efficiency in Delivering Project Scope
Although the above practice helps promote efficiency and enforce accountability, the engineering firm still needs to know the actual number of man days that are spent delivering the scope of work and determine the reasons for any discrepancies between the actual and estimated timeframes. To achieve this, each engineering team member must maintain his or her weekly timesheets. The PMWeb timesheet helps calculate the number of hours spent every day on labor and non-labor resources and whether those resources where spent during normal working hours, after working hours, or on weekends. Again, the hours are captured against each project deliverable.
Capturing the Details of the Agreement with the Project Owner
What we’ve just discussed is mainly focused on the cost of delivering the project’s design. Nevertheless, the engineering firm will be receiving revenue from the project owner when these project deliverables are complete and formally approved. PMWeb’s Contract module captures the details of this contract, which typically lists the project stages as outlined in level 2 of the WBS. Some contracts might be detailed to deliverable packages.
These deliverable packages can be mapped into PMWeb’s Submittal Sets to ensure full alignment between the deliverables list and the deliverable packages as specified in the contract. Doing this details the percent complete of each package and its current status. These deliverables packages are shown in the project schedule as milestone activities, since the project owner will require the engineering firm to report on those milestones.
Capturing Changes to Project Scope
No one expects a project to be delivered without any changes. Frequent changes are common to all projects, but especially engineering and construction projects. PMWeb’s Change Events module captures these changes and details their impact on the project budget as well as the impact on commitments with third-party consultants, other business units within the company, and a firm’s own project delivery team.
Capturing Budget Changes
Changes to the approved project budget can be the result of changes to the scope of work or any transfers from the approved contingency to project deliverables or from one deliverable to another. Regardless of the reason for the change, PMWeb’s Budget Requests module can capture these details, along with all supportive documents. Note that it’s highly recommended to have a predefined workflow in place for reviewing and approving budget changes.
Capturing Proposed Change Order Requests
The parties the engineering firm outsourced work to might find it necessary to submit change requests for work they believe is beyond what was included in the contract. PMWeb’s Proposed Change Order template will be used to capture those requests, which if approved, are generated as Change Events to assess their impact on project cost.
Submitting Change Orders
Should the engineering team discover that project changes are due to actions taken by the owner and/or the owner’s representatives, a change order for the original contract will need to submitted. This change order can include a cost or time impact or both time and cost impacts. All such change orders are captured in PMWeb’s change order module.
Managing Changes for the Project Cost
Should the change orders from the original project contract have an impact on the outsourced contracts, change orders to those agreements need to be submitted as well. Those change orders will be issued using PMWeb change order module and can include a cost or time impact or both time and cost impacts.