One of the project control processes included in the Saudi Arabian National Project Management Office (NPMO) manual is the Project Critical Items Action Report (CIAR). The CIAR is a focal point for management’s control of the project and is one of the most important tools of the project controls program. The CIAR is the subject of a weekly project team meeting to discuss corrective actions or alternatives to eliminate or alleviate the schedule and/or cost impact of the critical items. The CIAR should be used to capture the top 10-12 actual and potential impacts or opportunities to the project schedule outcomes that need immediate management attention and drive them to resolution within the required timeframes.
These items are defined as items that pose a risk to project performance or represent a potential opportunity. Each item should be specific and actionable, must be assigned to a specific individual owner, should identify the ongoing or potential impact to the project (e.g. delay performance testing by 2 weeks), and has specific actions and completion dates by which the issue is proposed to be resolved
It is not intended to be an extended action item list or a punch-list of to-go works which would dilute the focus on the critical items. The CIAR is also not meant to be exclusively a listing of scheduled activities on the critical path though some of these would certainly be included in the CIAR. Other reports, studies, or status information should be used to resolve project problems of a minor nature on a day-to-day basis.
The potential sources of critical items include Schedule updates and Critical Path review and analysis, Production, release, delivery, and installation curves, Trend Reports, and Risk Registers Reports, Contract and Permit Compliance matrix, Medium Term schedules and Work Front Analysis, Progress reviews, weekly reports, and monthly dashboard reports, Prime Contract/Sub Contract reviews, Level 5 Schedule: Engineering Tracker, Specification/Drawing Logs, and Exception Reports, code requirement changes, etc., Level 5 Schedules: Material Requisition Register Report, Expediting Reports, Vendor Data status, etc., Level 5 Schedule reviews: 3 Week Look ahead, Quantity Tracker, etc., Project team communications or general correspondence, Non-Conformance Reports, Unsatisfactory, Overage, Shortage & Damage (UOS&D) and Back-charge notices, Current studies/evaluations and Customer, Community, and Labor Relations.
The Critical Issues Action Report (CIAR) should provide the project team with a real-time single version of the truth status of all CIARs, issue and action description, responsibility, due, forecast and actual action dates, category they are associated with, project schedule activity they will impact and status.
Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) like PMWeb which is used to manage the many business processes needed to manage capital construction projects delivery, will be also used to manage the Critical Issues Actions Report. PMWeb’s ready-to-use meeting minutes will be perfect for managing, monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on the Critical Issues Action Report (CIAR).
The meeting minutes header will be used to capture the overall details of each CIAR meeting for which the type fields will have the CIAR as one of the meeting types. Similar to other meetings, meeting date, time start and time end, location or venue, those required to attend and those who have attended, and other details that could be needed.
The main change will be done in the meeting business items where the default description field will be removed and instead add two fields for Critical Issue and Action. Also, a field for Forecast, No. of Forecast Dates Changed and Criticality fields will be added. The fields assigned will be used to assign the individual responsible for the action, the category will be used to select the CIAR category, task to link the relevant project schedule activity completed to record the Action actual date, and Done to highlight if this CIAR item was completed or not. Of course, there many other fields like Notes, Subject, Reference, and others could have been kept as well as additional user-defined fields could have been added, if needed.
For each CIAR item, all supportive documents will be attached as well as other relevant PMWeb records, and imported MS Outlook emails will be linked. All of those documents can be uploaded and stored in their relevant folder or subfolder in the PMWeb document management repository. PMWeb allows selecting what attached PDF or Picture file documents to be displayed on the CIAR form
A workflow can be assigned to the Critical Issues Action Report (CIAR) form, or meeting minutes, to ensure that the reported critical issues, actions, responsibilities, and other details have been reviewed and approved by the project manager. PMWeb workflow will be used to create a workflow to map the submit, review, and approvals tasks along with the duration set for each task and the individual accountable to perform the task.
One of the important functions in the PMWeb meeting minutes module is the ability to generate the next CIAR meeting agenda. All critical issues for which the action was completed by selecting the option “Done”, will be excluded and only those with pending actions will be listed in the next meeting.
This enables the project team to maintain a history of each critical issue, update the actions, and update to the forecast date. In addition, it eliminates the redundant effort of adding the details of the meeting as well as the list of attendees. Of course, attachments from the previous CIAR meeting will not be copied to the new CIAR meeting.
About the Author
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 systems to over 200 projects with a total value over the 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 on 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.