Article #204 How Having the Right Technology Platform Can Protect Document Controllers from the High Risk of Improper Documents’ Distribution on Capital Projects Delivery?

Many of those involved in capital projects’ delivery continue to depend on their experienced Document Control team members to ensure that submitted project documents, records, and other types of communications are being distributed to their intended recipients to ensure their timely formal review, approval, and distribution. Usually, the distribution of those documents, records, and communications will take into consideration the established multi-level document numbering system that captures details that relate to the issuer, recipient, document type, discipline, project phase, revision among others by providing predefined abbreviations for each level. Nevertheless, the document numbering system cannot incorporate the distribution and escalation conditions for those documents, records, and communications that could be affected by the project’s approval authority levels.

Experienced Document Control team members are humans like all of us who could make mistakes when it comes to distributing project documents, records, and communications by simply depending on how they are numbered, regardless of how comprehensive the document numbering system is. The occurrence likelihood of the risk of improper documents, records, and communications distribution will always be a possibility and for which the impact, if it occurs, could result in unfavorable contractual implications that could lead to project delays and claims for prolongation cost among others. The many attributes associated with each project’s document, record, and communication, their growing volume during the project’s execution, involvement of multiple entities and individuals in the review and approval process among many others increase the chances of this risk to occur.

Using Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) like PMWeb that allows capturing the details of the hundreds of documents, records, and communications types along with the thousands of rules needed for distributing them whether they are relevant to a project, program, or the organization as an overall can help in avoiding such risk. To start with, PMWeb allows having all the documents, records, and communications to comply with the set of processes established for managing the capital project life cycle stages. Those could be from the many ready to use templates like RFIs, Transmittals, Change Orders, Progress Invoices among many others, or those user-created forms for Non-Compliance Report (NCR), Site Work Instruction (SWI), Work Inspection Request (WIR) among many others using PMWeb custom form builder.

This is an important first step to determine who should be involved in taking actions on each specific process as each project document, record, and communication type could have its attributes that could impact how the process should be reviewed and approved. For example, the Request for Information (RFI) process could be used during the project’s initial planning, design tender, design, construction tender, construction, testing and commissioning, and handover and closeout life cycle stages. Nevertheless, the workflow for reviewing, approving, and sharing the submitted RFI will differ depending on which phase it was issued at. By selecting the relevant phase from the predefined list of values, which is set as a required field, PMWeb will automatically select the relevant RFI workflow. The RFI for the construction phase could even have additional conditions to channel the submitted RFI as per the discipline it relates to which could be structural, architectural, mechanical, HVAC, electrical among others.

This means that there could be many workflows that detail how the Request for Information (RFI) process should be performed at each of the project life cycle stages that could differ from the RFI process executed at another project life cycle stage. The RFI workflows associated with each project life cycle stage could also differ from one project to another even if those projects were part of the same program of projects.

The details of each one of those workflow steps will be created using the PMWeb workflow module. The workflow will identify all needed steps, the duration for each step, responsibility for each step, actions that can be taken for each step, and the sequence for performing those steps. PMWeb also allows adding conditions to the workflow steps to incorporate the approval authority levels, should it be a requirement.

PMWeb workflow module can be set to allow keeping the Document Controller automatically notified with the details of all workflow steps when performed by the project team members by selecting the option on what taken actions the Document Controller needs to be notified on. Also, the Document Controller can be given the permissions to edit the workflow and the records including attachments that are part of the review, approval, and distribution workflow steps. In addition, permission can be given to reassign or delegate workflow steps for limited periods for those team members who are on vacation or temporary leave or permanently if the project team member is no more associated with the project delivery.

PMWeb Workflow rules will be used to align each defined workflow for each document, record, or communication process with the value of the relevant attribute assigned to them. The rules set for each condition could involve multiple attributes using the “And/Or” option. The selection of attributes values could be based on whether the selected field contains, begin with, end with, equal, and not equal to certain values. If the selected attribute was numeric, then the selection options will include equal, not equal, greater than, less than, less than equal, and greater than equal as well as the currency for the selected currency field was selected.

For each project document, record, or communication that has been associated with a workflow, the details of each workflow step will be automatically captured to reflect when they were performed, by who, requested team input of any, and comments made. Those workflow details can be also selected to be part of the printed or PDF saved output form.

In addition, using PMWeb Business Intelligence (BI) reporting application, a report can be created to audit trail, monitor, evaluate and report on all workflow steps for each document, record and communication process across a single project, a program of projects, portfolio of projects or all projects within the enterprise. The reported data can be color-coded to identify workflow steps with unfavorable performance among others. This important data can be visually presented to provide the needed in-depth analysis of the review and approval processes to identify trends and what can be done to improve the current workflows if needed.

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 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, 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), 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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