So much has been written and said on how the fourth industrial revolution 4.0 (Industry 4.0) will impact the delivery of capital construction projects. Most of what has been published addresses the digitization of the project’s design using Building Information Modelling (BIM), capturing data from the construction sites by using Internet of Things (IoT), modular construction and off-site manufacturing, 3D Printing, use of drones for site surveying and inspections, Big Data for Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide Predictive, Descriptive and Perspective Analytics among others.
Nevertheless, little had been said about the core requirement of digitizing the management of the hundred plus design, tender and construction business processes. Much of what had been considered for project management business processes was to address the requirement to digitize the management and collaboration of project documents for which many of them are the output of executing those business processes. Although digitizing document management is important, nevertheless they failed to understand that managing capital construction projects is no different than managing any other business where there are predefined business processes that requires specific data to be provided by certain individuals for each business process record which then need to be reviewed and approved by other individuals who could be from other entities with conflicting interests than those who have originally submitted the record.
The execution of the design, tender and construction business processes must comply with the entitlements and obligations of each entity as set in each contract agreement that establishes the contractual relation between those entities. Unlike ad-hoc collaboration, the formal collaboration on the submission, review and approval for records of those business processes is required to enforce transparency, accountability and compliance with the authority approval levels defined in the Delegation of Authority (DoA) matrix. Of course, digitizing ad-hoc collaboration is also a requirement.
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the growing trend of delocalized project management team members which meant that having a 100% web-enabled platform to manage, monitor, evaluate and report on the tens of thousands of those business processes is a must and not an option. This platform should also enable project management team members to perform their submit, review and approve tasks as well as monitoring, evaluating and reporting on those business processes and projects from anywhere, anytime using any device including mobile phones or iPads. The platform must also comply with the data security requirements that might require having the data stored on-premise or at any other selected data center.
The execution of those business processes would usually result in deliverables that will enable those entities to realize their planned benefits. Those capital construction projects’ benefits could tangible or intangible. The data captured from performing those business processes will provide the Big Data content needed for Machine Learning (ML) platforms to enable Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve decision-making, predict future results and identify fraud actions. The Big Data from those business processes can be associated with the Big Data from BIM, IoT and other data sources that Industry 4.0 made it available for capital construction projects.
Project Management Information System (PMIS) solutions like PMWeb is an example of a 100%-Web enabled Zero-Foot-Print (ZFP) PMIS platform that enables digitizing all business processes required to manage the design, tender and construction stages of capital construction projects and store this data at the desired location. Digitizing the business processes requires transforming all templates used in performing those processes from the media currently used for their communication into templates that will be managed using PMWeb.
PMWeb comes ready with the input templates for most of the commonly used business processes on capital construction projects. Those templates include all needed data fields for each business process as well as some additional fields that can be made available if a PMIS like PMWeb was used. Those are the fields of Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) level, Project Schedule Task, Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS) level, BIM Object ID and other data fields that are common to most business processes on capital construction projects. Those templates can be configured to set permission rights on who can access the template and access to the different data fields within each template.
In addition, PMWeb custom form builder will be used to create the input templates for all other business processes that are not readily available in PMWeb. Similar to the ready-to-use templates, access rights can be configured to restrict individuals who can access each business process template and the data fields they can access within each template.
The custom forms can be designed to include checklists needed to verify that each transaction of each business process was completed in accordance with the obligations and entitlements set in the contract agreement. The custom forms can be created in any language including non-Latin languages like the Arabic language.
Similar to all other business processes managed in PMWeb, supportive documents that are usually associated or required for each business process transaction can be attached to their relevant template. It is highly recommended to add details to each attached document to better explain to the reader what is being attached and viewed. In addition, links to other relevant records of other business processes managed in PMWeb can be also linked to the reported progress.
It is highly recommended that all those supportive documents, regardless of their type or source, get uploaded and stored on PMWeb document management repository. PMWeb allows creating folders and subfolders to match the physical filing structure used to store hardcopies of those documents.
To ensure that the submit, review and approve dates of each business process transaction submission are captured, a workflow will be assigned to each business process. The assigned workflow will map the submit, review and approve tasks, role or roles assigned to each task, task duration, task type and actions available for task. In addition, the workflow could be designed to include conditions to enforce the approval authority levels as defined in the Delegation of Authority (DoA) matrix.
When a business process transaction is initiated, the workflow tab available on the relevant template will capture the planned review and approve workflow tasks for each transaction as well as the actual history of those review and approval tasks. The captured workflow data will include the actual action data and time, done by who, action taken, comments made and whether team input was requested.
For business processes that do no require formal collaboration but more of ad-hoc collaboration, PMWeb will enable the initiator of each transaction of those business processes to invite the project team members who are required to collaborate on the transaction. This will enable those individuals to add their comments and upload documents associated with their comments. Similar to the other business processes that require formal collaboration, the data captured in those transactions will be also stored in PMWeb.
For ad-hoc meetings that cannot be done in person, PMWeb Activity Boards module provide an agile solution for those meetings. The meeting coordinator can invite the project team members who need to take part of those meetings. This will enable those individuals to add tasks, attach documents to those tasks, add comments, assign tasks and subtasks as well as update the status of those tasks.
The Big Data captured from the tens of thousands of transactions for the hundred plus business processes implemented across the complete projects’ portfolio that the entity has will provide the trust-worthy content needed for the Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms. The analysis of this data will not only enable having predictive, descriptive and perspective analytics but also provide those entities with the knowledge on how to improve the management of those business to ensure lean and sustainable capital construction projects delivery.
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 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 550 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 Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (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.