One of the key challenges that encounter project owners is to ensure that the quality of completed work in place invoiced for in the interim progress invoice is approved and by the project’s specifications. In addition, project owners also need to have the assurance that the work paid for in the interim progress invoice is aligned with the approved updated project schedule for the same period. Finally, project owners want to be sure that what was paid for covers the complete project scope of work.
To achieve this objective, project owners need to ensure that all work inspection requests used by the supervision consultant to inspect and approve the contractor’s completed works are associated with their relevant project schedule activity as well as ensure that the project schedule activities are aligned with the progress invoice line items. The project schedule and awarded contracts need to be fully aligned with the project’s Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to ensure that the complete scope of work has been covered. This will enable the project owner to ensure that the interim progress invoices issued for each bid package are aligned with their relevant updated project schedule as well as with their related work inspection requests.
Using a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb can be easily achieved as PMWeb has the modules to ensure the integration between cost, schedule, quality, and scope. To achieve this, PMWeb default modules for commitments and progress invoices will be used. In addition, the PMWeb scheduling module will be used to import and maintain a record of the project schedule baseline, periodical updates, and revisions. Finally, PMWeb custom form builder will be used to create the work inspection requests (WIR) for which there will be a different form for each work item type to be inspected to ensure complete alignment with what had been specified in the contract.
For each one of the forms, whether available by default or created using PMWeb custom form builder, the attachment tab will allow attaching all supportive documents such as drawings, specifications, pictures, method statements, and no objection certificates among others. Those documents will be usually uploaded into the PMWeb document management repository under their specific folder or subfolder. In addition, PMWeb allows linking other relevant PMWeb records for the form as well as linking imported MS Outlook emails.
To enforce accountability and ensure that those forms are following the required formal communication channels for the project, workflows can be assigned to each one of the forms to detail the review and approval steps and their sequence. The workflow allows defining the duration for each workflow step, to whom should the form be returned or resubmitted if it was not approved and whether one or all must approve the workflow step if multiple reviewers are assigned. Finally, the workflow allows setting conditions to enforce the approval authority levels assigned to a workflow when needed.
The first step required to achieve the cost, schedule, and quality integration, is to ensure having the work inspection requests (WIR) needed to inspect and approve the quality of work in place. PMWeb custom form builder allows creating all the needed inspection checklists where each will have a detailed list of items to be inspected to enforce compliance to what has been specified in the project’s specifications as well as reduce the likelihood of over or under-inspection.
In addition, each work inspection request (WIR) form will include the field for the project schedule activity that the inspected work will relate to. In addition, the form will have fields for the WBS level and location of the inspected work as the project schedule activities might not be detailed to that level. Of course, the form will also include the fields of the contractor or subcontractor who has performed the work, specification division, and specification section. Other fields can be added if needed.
To ensure that all work inspection requests (WIR) are formally communicated and documented, a PDF version of the completed work inspection request will be provided to the contractor. The PDF form can be digitally signed if needed. Using PMWeb Word report writer, the project owner can design the WIR output form to exactly match the WIR input form. The output form will also list the documents attached to the WIR form as well as the workflow steps to detail when was submitted, approved, or resubmitted.
It is highly recommended that the PMWeb document management repository is used to maintain a copy of those work inspection requests as for many projects, those will be part of the documents that need to be turned over upon project completion. To achieve this, a folder the main folder for WIR will be created which includes a subfolder for each specification division, for example, 09 Finishes. Each specification division folder will include subfolders for each specification section, for example, 09 30 13 Ceramic Tiling. The completed and saved work inspection requests for each specification section will be uploaded and stored under their relevant subfolder regardless of the location of the completed inspection. This subfolder will also include pictures, specification sections, and other documents that are relevant to the specification section.
The next step is to ensure that the project schedule activities are available in PMWeb so they can be associated with the relevant form. PMWeb scheduling module allows importing all project schedule updates and revisions. The data that will be imported include the project schedule ID, description, WBS level, planned start and finish dates, current start and finish dates, actual start and finish dates, percent complete, total float, original duration, remaining duration, and actual duration.
To ensure cost alignment, all commitments for awarded bid packages need to be added to PMWeb. It is recommended that the commitment line items be reorganized to match the project schedule activities’ level of detail. This is usually an acceptable practice in lump sum contracts where the total awarded contract value should be adhered to. PMWeb commitment module will be used to capture all the cost details of all those awarded bid packages including adjustments for advance payment, advance payment recovery, VAT tax, and tax withheld among others.
PMWeb progress invoice module will be used to capture the details of all interim progress invoices and the valuation of work in place. Each progress invoice line item will be associated with the relevant project schedule activity as this will enable PMWeb to automatically import the percent complete value of the project schedule activities to update the percent complete value of the interim progress invoice items. In addition, each line item will have the relevant WBS level assigned to it.
In addition, PMWeb allows attaching documents to each progress invoice line item. This will enable attaching the work inspection requests that were saved as PDF files and stored in the PMWeb document management repository. In other words, for each progress invoice line item, the information that relates to the allocated contract value, percent complete as imported from the project schedule, value of work done to date as well as for the period, and the work inspection requests for the work inspected for that progress invoice line will be readily available and accessible.
Further, each progress invoice line item will have the relevant cost breakdown structure (CBS) level which is essential to consolidate the project’s actual cost as captured in the approved interim progress invoice line items as well as report the overall financial status by displaying the values for the baseline budget, budget adjustments, revised budget, original commitments, approved change orders, revised commitments, pending change orders, projected commitments and actual cost. PMWeb cost worksheet module will be used to design the different layouts needed to display the single version of the truth of the project’s financial status in the desired format.
Of course, a report can be created to display the cost worksheet for a single project or portfolio of projects whether they had the same cost breakdown structure (CBS) levels or not. Nevertheless, standardizing the cost breakdown structure (CBS) across the complete projects’ portfolio will enable the organization to consolidate the projects’ cost data at any desired CBS level which will provide better insight into the organization’s projects’ portfolio as it relates to cost account level.
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 of over 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 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 information systems 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), an Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE), and a Green Project Management (GPM).
Bassam holds a Master’s in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – from Kuwait University, Kuwait, and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, and London Business School, London, UK.