Article #382 How Can a Project Management Information System (PMIS) Accelerate the Growing of Planning Engineers Role on Capital Construction Projects?

On capital construction projects, it is common to see that the role growth path for a planning engineer is to become project control engineer before he/she gets promoted into project control systems manager and eventually play the role of a project manager. The role growth will depend on the knowledge that a planning engineer can acquire on the different project management aspects that need to be planned, monitored and controlled without of course excluding the acquiring of personal skills needed for managerial roles.

On most capital construction projects, the planning engineer is usually the individual that will be assigned to manage the information technology requirements of a project. This is due to the fact that a planning engineer will always need a scheduling software like Primavera P6 and other applications including the information technology (IT) infrastructure needed to manage, monitor, control and report the project schedule performance and other related processes.

Nowadays, there is a growing trend among organizations to use a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb to manage, monitor, evaluate and report the performance of the many project management processes needed to deliver a capital construction project. Those include for example the processes for managing the project documents, communications, budget, risks, procurement, contracts, quality, health and safety including project schedule and scope. This represents a unique opportunity for planning engineers to grow their role as they are usually aware of the different project management processes that need to be implemented on capital construction projects. In addition, they have the basic knowledge of information technology needed to manage a PMIS.

One of the key advantages of using a PMIS like PMWeb is that it is one of the very few PMIS applications that are considered as Commercial-Off-The-Shelve (COTS) applications. Actually, and similar to Primavera P6, it takes no more than five days to complete the training on using PMWeb. In addition, PMWeb offering of more than 150 out of the box forms, reports and dashboards that can be used as is represents saving of hundreds of hours usually spent in designing forms, reports and dashboards.

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Of course, this does not mean that an organization cannot have their own branded forms, reports and dashboards to meet their projects’ reporting requirements. Actually, for some organizations, the reporting requirements could even differ from one project to another depending on each project management plan. PMWeb comes ready with the business intelligence (BI) reporting tool to create all those customized forms, reports and dashboards in any desired form and format. PMWeb uses the Microsoft SQL Reporting Services as its BI reporting tool.

Another quick-adoption feature of PMWeb is that it comes ready with the input forms for most processes that are needed to manage a capital construction project. Those include for example, Request for Information (RFI), safety incidents, meeting minutes, transmittals, daily reports, submittals, punch lists, contract documents register, correspondence, budget, budget adjustments, contracts, potential change orders, change orders, progress invoices, joint measurement report, risk register, timesheets, prequalification assessment, cost estimate, bid comparison among many others. All those default forms have the option to add new user defined fields that could be specific to each organization.

Of course, no PMIS can have all input forms that could be needed to deliver a capital construction project. Sometimes projects have their unique requirements that could even mean that using one of PMWeb default input forms cannot suffice the requirements. In addition, some projects might require some of the input forms to be in languages other than the English language. Those could be Latin or non-Latin languages like Arabic. PMWeb custom form builder allows creating any new input form without any programming or coding knowledge. It is just creating the fields and tables needed for the new forms and then visually design the input form layout format with the desired branding.

Of the PMIS main objectives when it is used on capital construction projects is how to enforce transparency and accountability when it comes to managing the different project management processes. PMWeb workflow will be used to map the tasks assigned to submit, review and approve for each form. For each task, PMWeb will allow defining the accountable team member and those to be kept informed, duration to complete each, actions available and instructions. In addition, PMWeb allows adding the conditions to enforce the approval authority levels that are usually assigned to commercial processes among others.

One of the PMIS requirements is to eliminate the need to have multiple data silos to capture project information as well as documents. Therefore, PMWeb document management repository provides the platform for document controllers and project team members to upload and store project documents. Those documents will also become available to be attached to the default input forms as well as the input forms created using the custom form builder to provide all supportive and relevant documents for each transaction of a given project management process.

For a planning engineer, having the real-time trust worthy data for all project management processes captured in PMWeb will save his/her effort in generating, reviewing and approving the many reports that will usually accompany the monthly project schedule update submissions. Those reports usually include the registers for Request for Information, Non-Compliance Reports, Submittals, Procurement among others. Those reports will become readily available as long as the process is being managed in PMWeb.

PMWeb will also enable the planning engineer to manage, monitor, evaluate and report the processes that are needed to fulfil his/her job responsibilities. For example, those could include the processes for submitting the integrated baseline schedule, periodical monthly updates, EOT requests, time impact analysis, planning and scheduling meeting minutes, etc. Similar to other managed processes, the planning engineer can have the input form, attach all supportive documents, assign a workflow, design an output form and design a report register or log.

Another advantage of having all project management processes data captured on the same database repository, is that the planning engineer can associate this data with project schedule data to provide the analysis that could be needed. For example, with the daily report data captured in PMWeb, the planning engineer can run accurate resources productivity reports to calculate the information for lost productivity analysis.

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The association of project data is not limited to the data captured in PMWeb but it could also include associating PMWeb data with other data sources, like for example, the building information model (BIM) data. Using special applications like Blogic Vcad, MS Power BI business intelligence application can be used to provide better visualization of the captured project’s data. For example, the planning engineer can use the BIM model to display the location of disruption events that could have a time impact on the project’s schedule. Other examples of BIM and PMWeb data association could be to associate Request for Information, Submittal, Safety Incidents, Permits to Work data with the BIM model.

With the different project management processes data being captured in PMWeb, dashboards for each project management aspect can be created. For example, there could be unique dashboards for procurement, commercial, quality, health and safety, risk and issues, sustainability, document management and of course scheduling. The dashboards could include tabular and visual information of the reported processes. Those dashboards will be usually designed to allow the reader to drilldown to the register of each reported process to review additional information when needed.

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In addition, the wealth of the trust-worthy and real-time data captured in PMWeb will allow creating a dashboard to summarize the overall project performance. This dashboard will provide a single version of the truth on all managed project processes. Those will include schedule, cost, procurement, contract, risks, quality, document, health and safety among other processes. The planning engineer might be required to provide the project’s progress narrative which will be displayed on the same project’s performance dashboard.

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The benefits of having a PMIS like PMWeb does not end here. If the planning engineer was involved in the delivery of a program of projects, then PMWeb also provides the option to create a program dashboard. The displayed dashboard below provides an example of a railway program that will involve a different project for each segment. The dashboard provides the overall status of each project that is part of the program. Similar dashboards could be created for other type of infrastructure projects as well as building projects like university campus, medical city, etc. Usually, the program dashboard will include a map to display the boundaries of the different projects.

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Further, if the planning engineer is given the right authorization to access other projects’ data, PMWeb will enable him/her creating enterprise dashboard to report on the performance of the complete or part of the complete projects’ portfolio that an organization could have. The enterprise dashboard could include maps to show the locations of managed projects as well as gauges to summarize the performance of the selected projects’ portfolio for each of the objectives of successful projects delivery.

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About the Authorfounder

Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with 40-year service record providing project management, project controls services and project management information system to over than 200 projects with a total value in excess of US $100 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment, Hospitality 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 40 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 300 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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