Article #027 Can Digitizing Daily Construction Project Operations Enable Your Organization to Reap the Many Benefits of Lean Construction Management, Accountability, Transparency and Data-Driven Decisions?

On any given day, those involved in delivering a construction project will spend time on planning and scheduling the many project schedule activities, preparing and submitting project budgets, reviewing and responding to RFIs, technical queries, submittals among others, issuing site work instructions, preparing daily reports, reviewing bids and preparing recommendation for award, reviewing and responding to potential change orders as well as change orders, reviewing and approving progress invoices, managing site inspections, keeping construction site safe, issuing and reviewing work permits and passes among many others.

Using a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb is essential to digitize the daily construction project operations to enable reaping the many benefits of lean construction management, accountability, transparency and data-driven decisions.

Identify the Daily Construction Project Operation to Be Digitized

The responsibility assignment matrix (RAM) which is the document created to explain what entities and which individuals will have a role in executing those many processes. The role of those individuals could be initiating the process by submitting it, reviewing and responding by either approving, rejecting or returning what was submitted, seeking support from individuals and keeping other individuals informed of the process progress.

PMWeb custom form builder will be used to create the responsibility assignment matrix (RAM) to the desired level of detail to identify the daily construction project operations that need to be digitized. This enable having the visibility and understanding of who is involved in each process and what are the forms and reports needed for each process.

Create Value by Eliminating Wasted Effort by Digitizing Project Management Processes to Achieve Lean Construction Management

For each process identified in the RAM, the project management team need to identify the different steps that need to be carried out to execute the process. This will help to identify the non-value-added activities that not only consume resources but create no value for the project which need to be eliminated. This will reduce the wasted time and effort that the project team and other stakeholders spend in managing the hundreds of project management processes and associated formal communications needed to deliver construction projects.

The Request for Information (RFI) process chart below details the eight types of waste that could be reduced from each step to increase it is value as well as the overall RFI process value. Those are Defects or Errors for not doing things right the first time, Overproduction when producing more than what is needed, Waiting for time lost when project resources and/or information are not ready, Non-Utilized Staff by not leveraging project resources skills, creativity and talents, Transportation when moving objects from one place to another, Inventory/Storage for unnecessary storage of information or material and Motion for the unnecessary movement of project resources.

For each project management process, PMWeb will be used to automate the process by providing the input form, which could be one of the many ready-to-use forms provided by PMWeb or created using PMWeb custom form builder, to capture needed data, attach all supportive documents and links to relevant records and emails, workflow to automate the steps to submit, review and approve the process, produce the output form to formally communicate the process and generate real-time log of captured information for each process.

This will enable the project management team to automatically generate all forms and reports required for each project management process. PMWeb provides the organization with the tools to design all project communication output forms and reports to exactly match the organization’s branding and reporting requirements. Formulas and other calculated fields can be added to those output forms and reports. The output form and reports can be saved as a PDF file format so it can be digitally signed and shared.

Gain the Benefits of Enforcing Accountability by Automating the Distribution of Project Management Processes

By digitizing the project management processes, PMWeb workflow allows adding the approval authority levels by adding those conditions to the visual workflow. This will ensure that project management processes are automatically distributed to the intended authorized and accountable recipients. For example, a condition can be added to the change order form where the condition is set to identify change orders that have a value that exceeds US$ 50,000 and will result in “Increased Scope”.

PMWeb workflow allows mapping the submit, reviews, approve, final approve and kept informed steps as required for each process and as per the responsibility assignment matrix. In addition, the workflow allows incorporating the defined approval authority levels in the workflow. This will ensure that all project management processes are automatically distributed to their intended and accountable recipients.

When any of the project management processes is initiated, the workflow tab for that specific formal communication will detail the actions taken by those involved in the workflow so they are held accountable for their remarks and actions.

Automated email workflow notifications will be sent to those individuals who are part of a workflow process. Different email notifications templates can be designed depending on the workflow action type. Those for example would usually include Submit, Approve, Final Approve, Reject, Return, Withdraw, Resubmit and Branch. The setup allows also to select what documents should be attached and links to the email notification when it is sent to enable viewing those documents even when there is no access to PMWeb.

By having details of all workflow review and approval tasks for every project management process transaction managed using PMWeb, the organization can generate a consolidated report to monitor and identify delays in reviewing and approving tasks assigned to the project team members. The report will highlight due as well as delayed review and approval tasks which can be grouped by process, project team member among others. The report can be designed to show delayed workflow tasks in red, while those that are most late in cyan and those that are still within acceptable time frame in green.

Gain Benefits of Enforcing Transparency by Ensuring Real-Time Monitoring, Evaluating and Reporting Project Performance and Status

The information captured and gathered across the complete project management processes will become available to be analyzed to predict and constructively influence the time, cost and other important objectives of the project. This information will also provide the project team and stakeholders with real-time single version of the truth of projects’ performance status that can be reported on in the desired form and format. The dynamic dashboards will be automatically updated with real-time data to provide a single version of the truth on the projects’ portfolio performance. The user can drilldown to the data source to investigate the reported information when needed thus ensuring the transparency at the desired granular level.

The real-time transparency to all daily project management operations will enable the internal and external audit teams to implement the needed measures to prevent fraud actions. PMWeb custom form builder will be used to create the Capital Project Audit checklist which will have nine (9) categories with thirty (30) audit objectives. Those categories are governance, procurement, reporting, financial, risk, communication, schedule, quality and closeout. Each one of those nine categories will include its relevant objectives.

Gain the Benefits of Providing the Insight for Better and Faster Data-Driven Decisions

Project team members will have access to real-time critical project information that can provide critical business insights to make better and faster data-driven decisions. Those could be decisions that will show what will happen if we do not intervene and change what is driving the project’s performance today. Having access to reliable, relevant, valid, accurate, legible and complete will ensure that all findings and decisions made will be backed by evidence. For example, the RFI status report will provide the insight to better understand the reasons why RFIs were issued, what impact they had on the project scope, budget and schedule, what specification section or contract documents that caused those RFIs, the volume of RFIs issued among others.

About the Authorfounder

Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with more than 35-year service record providing project management and controls services to over 100 projects with a total value in excess of US $5 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment 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 35 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 250 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 American Association of Cost Engineers (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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