Article #565 Why Digitizing Project Management Business Processes for Capital Construction Projects is the Only Way Forward to Survive?

No one can deny that the fourth industrial revolution 4.0 (Industry 4.0) will impact all industries including the construction industry. One of the areas that it will force is the digitization of managing the delivery of capital construction projects. Not only this will improve the efficiency, transparency and accountability in performing the hundred plus business processes that are needed to manage the planning, design, tendering, construction and closeout stages of capital construction projects but also enables capturing the massive volume of wasted data generated from the tens of thousands of transactions and documents associated with those business processes on each capital construction project.

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The digitization of managing capital construction projects will help in stopping the many fraud actions that are common to this industry which will have positive impact on reducing the likelihood of cost overrun, lower quality and delayed completion risks. Using a Project Management Information System (PMIS) solution like PMWeb to automate of the hundred plus business processes needed during the project life cycle stages, will ensure that all tasks required to submit, review and approve each business process transaction are mapped to the individuals who have been assigned roles for performing those business processes. The workflow assigned to a business process will incorporate all authority approval levels defined in the delegation of authority (DoA) matrix which is an integral part of every project management plan (PMP).

The automation of business processes will also enable capturing the actual history of each transaction review and approval workflow tasks. The captured workflow data will include the actual action data and time, done by who, action taken, comments made and whether team input was requested.

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In addition, the digital digitization of managing capital construction projects will enable taking advantage of the massive generated big data from the tens of thousands of transactions and documents exchanged during the project life cycle stages for Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms to provide better predictive, descriptive and perspective analytics among others.

For each business process to be managed during the project life cycle stages, there will be template to capture all needed data associated with the business process. The type of data fields could be numeric, text, date, Boolean, currency or even value from predefined list of values. Those data fields could be also used to set the conditions for the workflow review and approval tasks. For example, the value for a change order could be the condition that drives the approval authority level for change orders. In addition, permission rights can be set to restrict access to the data fields of each template.

Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) solutions like PMWeb comes ready with the templates that are common to most capital construction projects. In addition, it comes ready with a visual custom form builder to enable creating other business processes that might be required to deliver a project. Those templates can be designed in any language including non-Latin languages like the Arabic language.

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For each transaction of each business process, there always the need to attach documents that supports the content of what is being communicated. Those documents could be drawings, pictures, specifications, videos and other type of documents. In addition, there might a be need to add links to other transactions of the same business process or other business processes that are associated or relevant to the communicated transaction. It is highly recommended to add details to each attached document to better explain to the reader what is being attached and viewed.

As a best practice, all attached supportive documents, regardless of their type or source, get uploaded and stored on PMWeb document management repository. PMWeb allows creating folders and subfolders to match the physical filing structure used to store hardcopies of those documents.

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For business process transactions that need to be formally communicated to the other entities who are part of the project delivery team, output templates need to be designed in a format that is aligned with each project’s branding and communication requirements. Those output templates will be designed to include all data fields that need to be communicated including the option of listing the status of the submit, review and approve workflow tasks and documents attached to the transaction. The output templates can be either saved in PDF file format so it can be digitally signed or printed to be wet-signed and stamped.

PMWeb is one of the few PMIS solutions that comes ready with more than 150 forms, reports and dashboards that can be immediately used to share the information captured in the business processes managed in PMWeb. Of course, there is also to fully customize those forms, reports and dashboards to suite each project communication requirements.

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In addition, registers or logs of each business process transaction can be automatically generated and shared with project stakeholders to provide them with real-time single version of the truth of those transactions. Those reports cab be designed to group, sort, summarize and filter the transactions of each business process in the desired form and format. Of course, those reports will be designed in a format that is aligned with each project’s branding and communication requirements.

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Sometimes, there will be a need to generate reports that need to capture data from transactions of different business processes to provide a better insight on certain project management function. For example, when it comes to reporting the status of contracts for each specific project, there is a need to communicate what was the original awarded contract value, what change orders been issued to date, what are the approved and pending change orders, what interim payment certificates been issued to date, what the amount of retainage held on those payments and what the balance amount remaining for each contract. Getting this report requires data from the contract, change order and progress invoices modules.

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Another example would be having a report that provides an overall cost performance status of all projects that the entity is managing. This requires having a report that will group projects by the program they relate to. Then using PMWeb modules for budget, budget adjustments, commitments, change orders and progress invoices, the cost worksheet report will be generated. For each project, the report will detail the original budget, budget adjustments, anticipated budget, awarded contracts, approved change orders, pending change orders, percent to complete, anticipated cost at completion, variance at completion and actual cost invoiced to date.

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In addition, the data captured in each transaction of each business process that relates to one of the areas of project management whether this was cost, schedule, contract, risk, quality, health, safety and environment, procurement, sustainable development, document management and others can be aggregated and reported on in a graphical format. In other words, different dashboards can be created for each one of those areas to provide stakeholders with an oversight of how each project management area is performing.

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Similarly, a project dashboard can be created to summarize the transactions data of all key business processes so they can be modeled and reported on in a format that provides the needed information in the required format. The reader of the project dashboard can drilldown to view other dashboards and reports that will detail what is being reported on.

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The project dashboard can be designed to include pictures of the current project’s status or be embedded with URL address of the construction site cameras. This will provide the stakeholder and in particular those with limited access to the construction sites with a better insight on their capital construction projects’ status.

For stakeholders who need to have an overview of the performance status of their complete or selection of their programs and projects, a dashboard can be also designed to model and summarize the projects’ data in the desired format and layout. Usually, those portfolio dashboards will include a map to detail the location of the projects being reported on.

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For stakeholders who have the requirement to report and analyze the data captured from the tens of thousands of transactions of the hundred plus business processes across their complete projects’ portfolio, using business intelligence and data visualization tools like MS Power BI can be configured to access PMWeb database so it can provide the content for creating such interactive reports. The captured data needs to be modeled and configured in the required format to provide the key performance indicators that are usually required by the different stakeholders.

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The value of using business intelligence and data visualization tools like MS Power BI also include the ability to report on multiple data sources and using advanced graphical visuals to present the information. For example, the fourth industrial revolution 4.0 (Industry 4.0) also focus on digitizing the design of capital construction projects using Building Information Modelling (BIM). Combining the BIM data and model with the PMWeb PMIS data will provide stakeholders with a better oversight of the project’s performance status.

The captured data will also provide the trust-worthy content needed for the Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms. The analysis of this captured data will not only enable having predictive, descriptive and perspective analytics but also provide those entities with the knowledge on how to improve the management of those business processes to ensure lean and sustainable capital construction projects delivery.

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The digitization of the different business processes can also improve detecting and flagging fraud actions and transactions. Unlike creating reports to detect fraud transactions based on the queries required to issue alerts if a fraud action has occurred, Fraud Detection with ML and AI helps to have complete data analysis within milliseconds and detects complex patterns in the most efficient way which can be difficult for those reports and individuals to detect.

The digitizing the business processes that are associated with fraud transactions such as those of cost estimate, work inspection requests (WIR), material inspection requests (MIR), technical submittals, punch lists, interim payment certificates, claim notices, material alternative submissions, daily reports, baseline schedule review, schedule update review, weekly and monthly progress reports, miscellaneous invoices, non-conformance reports (NCR), risk registers, timesheets, daily reports, staff appraisal among many others. This will enable tagging which of those generated transactions had a fraud action and which did not.

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About the Authorfounder

Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with 40-year service record providing project management, project controls services and project management information system to over than 200 projects with a total value in excess of US $100 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment, Hospitality and shopping malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, Telecommunication and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete project management including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training and business development.

Bassam is a frequent speaker in topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 40 years he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and South America. He has written more than 550 articles on project management and project management information systems that were featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP) and Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE) and Green Project Management (GPM).

Bassam holds a Masters in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – Kuwait University, Kuwait and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA and London Business School, London, UK.

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