Article #189 How to Ensure the Formal Initiation of Capital Project Design Phases?

One of the key requirements for any capital project investment is to ensure that the project is designed to meet the authorized scope, budget, and schedule. To ensure this, the commencement of the schematic design, design development construction documents phases of the project’s design stage needs to be formally authorized by the project owner. This will be achieved by having a formal kick-off meeting for each phase where a predefined design phase checklist will be reviewed and confirmed by the project owner along with the appointed design consultant and other consultants including the project management consultant and cost consultant.

Using a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb the formal initiation of each design requires using the Meeting Minutes module which will be used to document the design phase kick-off meeting and a Design Phase Requirements Checklist which will be created using PMWeb custom form builder. The kick-off meeting agenda for each design phase will differ from the others. For example, the University of Tennessee (UT) kick-off meeting for the schematic design phase includes the following topics.

  1. Requirements of the Schematic Design Phase are stated in the Agreement and previous meetings and communications.
  2. Checklist for Schematic Design Phase Documents
  3. Site analysis implications
  4. Master plans, land use including local zoning, permits, environment, circulation, mass transportation, traffic, parking, telecommunications, utilities, fire, and life safety
  5. Functional relationships
  6. Visual studies in diagrammatic form or model form
  7. Review of design concepts’ fulfillment of program requirements
  8. Selection of a design concept and completion of Schematic Design
  9. Project schedule
  10. Space Efficiency and Cost Analysis
  11. Site usage restrictions and effects such as noise, vapors, user operation routines, special events, and closures
  12. Existing and project-required utility easements
  13. Owner’s written approval of the Schematic Design Phase and requirements for further services

On the other hand, for the design development phase, the kick-off meeting has the following agenda:

  1. Requirements of the Design Development Phase are stated in the Agreement and previous meetings and communications.
  2. Review the Checklist of Design Development Phase Documents
  3. Establish or clarify Owner design guidelines and user requirements early in the Design Development Phase, for building systems and equipment which may include the following:
    1. Telecommunications, security, and computer network systems
    2. Geotechnical conditions and design requirements
    3. Building envelope including exterior walls and roofing and associated roof warranty period and specifications.
    4. Interior design including furniture, fixtures, and equipment
    5. Energy management systems
    6. Hazardous material management
    7. Building signage
  4. External coordination requirements such as those for land rights, utility service and connections, site staging, and restricted access
  5. Building and site closures or disruptions for normal user operations
  6. Special quality controls and possible third-party delivery methods
  7. Construction phases, allowances, and unit prices necessity and preliminary definitions
  8. Bid Alternates Necessity and preliminary definition of distinct optional design features
  9. Request for Proposal process schedule if using the Best Value procurement method
  10. Procedures for bidding and administration of contract documents during construction
  11. Project schedule review and confirm or update if necessary
  12. Space Efficiency and Cost Analysis including submittal of Designer’s Cost Estimate Summary
  13. Owner’s written approval of the Design Development Phase and requirements for further services

The agenda of the design phase kick-off meeting will be added to the meeting business items where they can be further detailed and actions can be assigned to the different project team members along with the actions’ due dates. All documents associated with the design phase kick-off meeting will be uploaded and attached to the meeting minutes. In addition, checklists created using PMWeb custom form builder and other PMWeb records including imported MS Outlook emails will be linked to the meeting minutes.

One of the requirements of each design phase kick-0ff meeting is the review of the predefined checklist of the design phase documents. PMWeb custom form builder will be used to create those checklists which will differ for each design phase. The form will include the consultant’s name and the items to be checked during the design phase. For example, for the University of Tennessee (UT) schematic design phase, the checklist included the categories for General Information, Space Efficiency and Cost Analysis, Site Plans, Building Floor Plans, Building Elevations, Building & Wall Sections, Details, Project Manual, High-Performance Building Requirements and Other Required Coordination for Design Phase.

Similar to all other PMWeb records, supportive documents will be attached to the form, and links to relevant PMWeb records and imported MS Outlook emails will be also linked to the form. A workflow can be also associated with the design phase checklist to formalize the review and approval process. The workflow can be also aligned with the checklist categories as the workflow will enable the assignment of different project team members to edit the items within each category in the design phase checklist form.

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 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.


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