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Portfolio, Program & Project Management Construction Software

Replace and Digitize Ineffective Project Communication Processes

Replace and Digitize Ineffective Project Communication Processes

Written by Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM

The fourth step in getting the flavor of digital transformation for capital construction projects is how to replace inefficient project management processes with efficient ones with the least effort as well cost. Unlike the project communications templates that can be digitized as detailed in “Digitize Project Communication Templates and Registers”, those ineffective manual processes that need to be replaced without any question. Examples of those processes are meeting minutes, daily reports, punch lists, and safety incident processes. For this article, the meeting minutes will be the process to be addressed.

One will never find a single capital construction project, regardless of its size, type, location, or duration that does not require having meetings between the different project entities. Meetings are scheduled gatherings of individuals for a stated purpose, to discuss and act upon matters of common interest. Meetings serve a valuable purpose in the project to effectively communicate information, exchange ideas, render decisions, resolve issues, coordinate work, prevent problems among others. It is estimated that project management team members spend more than 50% of their time in participating in meetings.

In a capital construction project, there are many types of meetings. Those could include design review meetings, value engineering workshops, pre-bid meetings, tender opening meetings, kick-off meetings, progress meetings, technical meetings, contractor meetings, QA/QC meetings, HSE meetings, change management meetings, steering committee meetings, BIM coordination meetings, risk management meetings, interface management meetings, project handover meetings among others. The frequency of those meetings could vary as some could be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or on when needed basis.

Most construction capital projects continue to manage meeting minutes in a very ineffective and manual process. Although the business items discussed in each meeting will be always captured, nevertheless, what ends to be managed is mainly what meetings were held. There is no tracking or reporting mechanism on the status of the many business items discussed during those meetings and for which a responsibility had been assigned to close at a specific date otherwise, they could impact the project’s progress and thus the completion date.

PMWeb Project Management Information System (PMIS) solution, which was used to digitally transform the document management, transmittal management, monthly performance reporting, and digitizing the project communications templates, will also be used to digitally transform the meeting management process. The PMWeb meetings module is one of the many ready to use out of the box processes that are available in PMWeb. Those include the other inefficient processes of daily reports, punch lists, and safety incidents that need to be replaced.

All meeting minutes share the same requirements for what general data to be captured although the content of each meeting will vary from one meeting type to another. The first requirement for a meeting minute is that it needs to capture the particulars of the meeting such as project, type, subject, WBS level, location, date, timing among others. Second, it needs to capture the details of those invited to attend the meeting and who actually attended the meeting.

In addition, the next or follow on meeting minute agenda can be generated from the current meetings to keep track of the history of business items from one meeting to the other. When the generate next meeting option is selected, all business items that are closed will be removed while on-going items will appear in the next meeting agenda.

The third requirement which is the most important of all is the business items discussed during the meeting, who are responsible to address those business items and by which date, the status of this business item if it is still open or closed, the actual date this business item was closed and the project schedule activity that could be subject to be delayed if this business item is not closed as per the set due date. Of course, additional details such as the business item category and type can be added to improve the classification of the business item.

Similar to other PMWeb modules, documents such as drawings, reports, pictures, videos, catalogs among others can be attached to the meeting minutes to ensure that they can be reviewed when needed. In addition, the meeting minutes could have links to other PMWeb records like submittal, risk register, changes among others that can be linked to the meeting minute. PMWeb also allows uploading documents as well as attach documents that are stored in the PMWeb document management repository to each business item.

The meeting minute output format can be designed in any desired form and format using the PMWeb business intelligence reporting tool. Nevertheless, PMWeb comes ready with it is own meeting minutes form that has interesting functions and features that manually prepared meetings minutes cannot have. The output form can be saved in PDF file format to be electronically shared or printed. Each meeting minutes’ output will have hyperlinks to the documents that were attached to the meeting minutes.

The meeting minutes output form has a hyperlink to the Meeting History report. When selected, a report will be generated detailing the history of all business items that continue to be open pending closure. A report that most project management team members wish to have instead of trying to go through the hundreds of meeting minutes trying to figure out what was discussed on those pending items and why they were not concluded until today.

The Meeting History report also it is own hyperlink which will lead to the reminder letters that can be issued to each project team member who has pending meeting business items assigned to him to her. The reminder or dunning letter will list all due business items assigned to the project team member. Issuing such letters will help in driving actions from those team members to respond and close pending meeting business items.

Similar to the other management processes that had been activated in PMWeb, the project center screen can be configured to display all those new management processes to be managed using PMWeb. Those are meeting minutes, daily reports, punch lists, and safety incidents.

Four of the World's Top 10 Universities use PMWeb, including Princeton (#1) and Harvard (#2). Learn why PMWeb is the #1 CapEx Planning & Project Portfolio Management Software.

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