Article #028 Assessing the Return of Investment of Implementing a Project Management Information System to Digital Transform the Delivery of Capital Projects

Many organizations who are involved in delivering capital projects and are keen on reducing the likelihood of the high risk of project failure strongly believe that digital transformation could help them in achieving this goal. This would include investing in building information modeling (BIM), business analytics, project management information systems, internet of things (IoT) among others. Similar to other business investments, those organizations need to justify those digital transformation investments by assessing their return on investment (ROI).

The adoption of project management information systems (PMIS) like PMWeb is one of the fastest-growing trends in digital transformation for capital projects in particular by project owners and project management consulting firms. Those organizations understand better the drastic impact that delayed and over budget, projects can cause on their business. They also understand the importance of enforcing project governance, transparency, and accountability across all parties involved in delivering their projects’ investments. In addition, they understand the high value of having real-time access to everyday projects and trustworthy big data to give them the insight for better and faster-informed decisions.

The assessment of the ROI for implementing a PMIS shall consider the investments that the organization needs to undertake in acquiring the PMIS software, hardware, and web-hosting, configuring and implementing the PMIS, providing training, and supporting the ongoing adoption and support of the PMIS. The return on the investment will be the benefits that the adoption of a PMIS will bring to the organization which is many.

The PMIS Adoption Scope of Work

Assuming that there is a real estate developer who is interested in implementing the PMIS on three of their high-profile projects as stage 1 and then it will be rolled out to their other projects. As a priority, the organization wants the PMIS to:

  1. Upload and store all project documents in folders and subfolders that will match the filing system that they have decided to adopt for their projects. The filing system should be flexible enough to allow modifications to meet each specific project’s unique requirements if any.
  2. Capture the details of every company that the organization has business relations with.
  3. Capture the high level of all projects that the organization is currently investing in as well as projects that are under consideration by the organization.
  4. Capture all project records needed to administer everyday communications which include Correspondence, Transmittals, Requests for Information (RFI), Meeting Minutes, Safety Incidents, Actions, etc.
  5. Capture all project records needed to enforce quality assurance and quality control which include Submittals, Material Delivery, Site Inspection, Material Inspection, Non-Conformance Reports (NCR), Snag List, Punch List, etc.
  6. Capture everyday events through the contractors’ daily reports
  7. Maintain an updated register of all risks with their pre-mitigation and post-mitigation likelihood and impact.
  8. Capture the details of all schedule submissions including baseline, revised, and updated schedules for which they will be developed using Oracle Primavera P6.
  9. Capture the details of pre-contract and post-contract commercial aspects of the projects which include budget versions and the planned budget cashflow, budget adjustments and transfers, awarded contracts, potential, pending, approved, and disputed change orders, progress invoices for approved work in place and actual payments made against the approved invoices, miscellaneous invoices that are not part of the awarded contracts, internal and external funding provided by the corporate office as well as banks and tabular and graphical reporting needed to report the projects’ financial status
  10. Capture the monthly progress report that the consultant Resident Engineer needs to provide at the end of the month.

The same scope of work will be rolled out to other projects after the completion of the above the first three projects which the organization needs to complete within 16 weeks. Although the organization has a project management procedure that document the project management processes to be used in delivering their projects, nevertheless, they have decided to use the out-of-the-box forms and reports that PMWeb PMIS provides. For those forms and reports, they want to add their logo and use their corporate colors to brand those forms and reports.

The organization adopts the traditional design, bid then constructs project life cycle delivery. The consultant and the contractor will be provided restricted access to PMWeb PMIS. Each contractor will be provided with five access points, one for their project manager, another for the submittal coordinator, the third for the document controller, and the fourth for the QA/QC engineer to submit a request for inspections as well as track the closure of NCRs, and the last will be for the engineer responsible for the daily reports and site safety incidents. None of those licenses will have access to the cost management module.

The Needed PMIS Setup

The consultant will be provided with 10 licenses. Those will be for the Resident Engineer, QS/Cost Engineer, Planning Engineer, Site Inspector(s), Discipline Engineers, and Document Controller. Two of those 10 licenses will have access to the cost management module.

As the project owner, they will need 20 licenses to be used by the head of the projects department and other members of the projects departments. In addition, access will be given to selected senior management and executives of the organization. Ten of those licenses will have access to the cost management module.

In other words, the real estate developer would need to invest in acquiring 65 licenses of which 16 will have access to the cost management module. As the analysis will be based on a 5-year investment, additional four years of annual software maintenance and support to be added as well as a separate PMWeb instance for testing and training. The organization also selected to subscribe to online PMWeb training using PMWeb University for the 5-years to ensure PMWeb knowledge is shared by anyone working on their projects. This brings the total software investment to US$ 250,000.

In addition, the organization has decided to use the services of one of the many reputed data centers to host the PMWeb PMIS solution rather than investing in acquiring and maintaining their web servers. The 5-year cost associated with this data center is US$ 100,000.

For the software implementation, configuration, training, and after go-live support, it was agreed to have two resources, a PMWeb Consultant and PMWeb Report Writer for 6 months where implementation will be for 4-months and 2 months after go-live support. The cost of this professional service is US$ 200,000. In addition, the organization wants to have its own dedicated PMWeb Administrator who will be responsible for supporting PMWeb users and maintaining the PMWeb application. This will add an estimated cost of US$ 8,000 for 5 years, US$ 480,000. This brings the total PMIS investment to US$ 1,030,000.

Quantifying the Benefits

Automating Project Management Processes

One of the key benefits of automating project management processes is the increased efficiency in submitting, reviewing, approving, and sharing the contents of those processes. By replacing the manual or semi-manual processes of completing the project management forms, distributing those forms for actions, and then getting the updated status with an automated process that PMWeb will bring, one could assume that this will bring at least 30% efficiency improvement. In addition, there is the additional benefit of enforcing governance, transparency, and accountability while improving the efficiency in executing those processes. As this benefit will affect all those involved in delivering each project, we will assume that there will be a US$ 5,000 saving for the wasted effort per month per project. This brings the total anticipated savings to US$ 900,000.

Knowledge Management

The benefits of stopping the knowledge wasted by capturing and analyzing the everyday project data and lessons learned are massively taking into consideration the massive talent drain facing the engineering and construction in general and the GCC region in particular. Knowledge could be related to what material to use and what not to use contractors and suppliers’ performance, risks and how best to respond to them, cost estimates and dealing with contract agreements, among many others.

The organization will not only have access to all of the above data from the project management processes captured in PMWeb but can enforce a formal Lesson Learnt process to ensure that knowledge gained and best practices are formally captured, analyzed, and shared. For this benefit, we will assume that the value of this captured knowledge is US$ 200 per day per site. Since we have three projects and the head office, this will be US$ 800 per day for five years. The total anticipated benefit will be US$ 1,460,000.

Internal Audit

The real estate developer has strict governance requirements which are being monitored and controlled by their internal audit department. The automation of the project management process will enforce governance, transparency, and accountability as well as provide the documents and records at the granular level required by the internal audit. PMWeb cost ledger provides a single source for all financial transactions that occurred during the project delivery. Each transaction is linked to the record used in capturing its details. This will help in drastically reducing the effort and duration needed by the internal audit department to do their assessment and submit their finding report. The internal audit department anticipates that this saving could be quantified at US$ 100,000 per annum or US$ 500,000 for the five years.

Reporting Projects Performance

It is estimated that organizations that continue to use MS XLS as their platform for monitoring and evaluating the performance of the projects, waste 65% of their senior project management team members in consolidating, analyzing, and reporting the projects’ performance data. In addition, the period between the cutoff date of the captured and when the performance reports and dashboards are available to be presented varies between 3 to 6 weeks. In other words, the presented information is not valid anymore.

On the other hand, PMWeb provides all those reports and dashboards in a real-time single version of the true form and format that can be accessed by authorized users anytime, anywhere using any device. Accordingly, one can easily assume that this could bring at least US$ 10,000 savings per month when it comes to reporting the project’s real-time performance. This totals to US$ 600,000 for the five years.

Stakeholder Engagement

The benefits of improved stakeholder engagement by sharing trust-worthy project performance and status reports and dashboards could be massive. Not only does it helps in building trust and confidence with those stakeholders, but also helps in keeping them engaged in the project delivery by keeping them aware of the progress and status in the form and format that matters to them most. This will drastically reduce the conflicts that usually occur on projects when stakeholders feel that they are left out or are the last to know.

Quantifying the benefits of having more engaged stakeholders and fewer conflicts is not that easy to determine. Nevertheless, we will assume that the organization has five key stakeholders that they need to manage. Having trustworthy dashboards designed to their own needs that they can access on their own when they desire regardless of where they are, could save the projects department at least one day of effort to resolve conflicts and respond to stakeholder queries and needs, this saved effort will be estimated at US$ 1,000 per month per stakeholder. This brings the total anticipated benefit to US$ 300,000 for 5 years.

Project Handover

One of the key challenges in handing over a project is the snag list of items that need to be rectified by the contractor before the project can be considered complete. One of the recommended practices is to use the Snag List as an Observation Report where the assigned supervision consultant capture and shares defects during the project execution as soon as they are identified rather than delaying this process toward the completion of the project. This will not only help the contractor in rectifying those defects as soon as they are identified but also reduce the list of pending snag items when it comes to handing over the project.

We will assume that there will be 10 projects that will be handed over during those five years and that implementing such best practices using PMWeb Snag List will save 5 days from the duration given to the contractor to rectify the snag list items. Assuming that for the project owner each day saved in handing over the project for operations can generate a revenue of US$ 10,000, then the estimated total benefits could reach US$ 500,000.

Construction Claims

No one can deny that construction claims in the GCC in particular and globally, in general, are on the rise. The decline of new project awards, projects at low-profit margins, liquidated damages claims for late completion are rising in frequency and amount, and tough pressure on margins among other issues are compelling owners and contractors to become more contentious and adversarial thus resulting in the growing volume of claims and disputes.

The benefits of having online access to all project documents and records that can be searched to identify documents and reports needed to either support the submission of a claim or support the response of a counter-claim are massive. They can be the deciding factor of who will have better chances to win or lose the claim. It is anticipated that this will bring a saving of US$ 2,000 per month per project for the time-consuming effort spent in searching and locating the requested documents. This is a total saving of US$ 480,000.

Other Benefits

Using a PMIS like PMWeb is not limited to the benefits listed above actually there are many other benefits that an organization can gain from using such a platform. To list a few:

Lean Performance and Continuous Improvement

By automating the project management processes, the organization has now a platform to assess those processes and find ways to improve their performance. Some organizations have decided to eliminate and combine some of their processes after implementing them in PMWeb as some of them were found to be redundant and there was no added value for having different templates for each. The ability of PMWeb conditional workflow to add the conditions and branches to match the different approvals authority levels made it easy to combine different manual-based processes into a single automated process.

Big Data Knowledge and Business Intelligence

The capturing of current projects’ big data with the option of migrating completed projects data to PMWeb or a data warehouse provides the organization with access to a massive knowledge database that can help in analyzing trends, correlations, and exceptions that can improve their current and future projects delivery. In addition, it enabled senior executives to visualize the project’s performance data as part of the enterprise business analytics and data visualization dashboards.

Improved Digital Transformation

With the availability of projects data in a digital format, integrating, associating, and blending this data with other digital data captured from ERP applications, cost estimating, planning and scheduling, building information modeling (BIM), and Internet of Things (IoT) among others, will enable the organization to achieve their desired digital transformation strategy and gain the benefits from this strategy. For example, the data captured in the PMIS can now become part of the BIM model by having the right integration between the two applications.

Enhancing Third Parties’ Confidence in all dealings with the Organization

The organization needs to obtain funds to bridge the time between making expenditures to build the three projects and obtaining revenues from leasing or selling them. The funding agency takes a risk that the organization may not pay back the loan as agreed. Thus, the interest rate provides a certain compensation for bearing risk coupled with the risk of default is the risk of inflation. Interest protects against future rises in inflation. That is why it is common the find that the interest rate to finance such projects could vary by around 3% depending on the organization’s risk exposure. Having a PMIS like PMWeb where all financial transactions are available to be audited and reported on, can help the organization in getting better project finance terms and conditions.

Increased Company Value

The documented and automated project management processes, the captured and documented knowledge management, the improved governance, transparency and accountability, improved internal audits, and the effective project monitoring and evaluation among others are all considered organizational assets that enhance the organization’s corporate image and shareholders’ confidence. It also helps in improving the value of the organization should it decide to become a publicly-traded company

The Anticipated ROI for Adopting a PMIS

The total anticipated benefits of using PMWeb for 5-years is US$ 4,740,000. With an estimated investment of US$ 1,030,000, the ROI of using a PMIS like PMWeb could reach 460%. Of course, the value of the benefits listed above as well as what value the other benefits can bring to an organization when using a PMIS like PMWeb depends on each organization’s perspective of those benefits. Some could be lower than what was estimated while others could be much higher. Another important point to consider is that more than 40% of the investment cost for acquiring the software licenses and implementation is a one-time investment whereas the estimated benefits are ongoing with a trend of growing more when a more mature project management information system environment becomes available and the PMIS solution is used to its full capabilities.

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 control services to over 100 projects with a total value of over the US $5 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment and Shopping Malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, and 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 on 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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