Best practices in information management for suppliers and fabricators servicing major capital projects

As a supplier of custom manufacturing or fabrication services to major capital projects – the biggest projects on earth – do you find yourself struggling with the following questions?

Do stakeholders have confidence in our information exchange and review processes?

Is everyone working from the same document version throughout the project?

Can superior vendor data management help us stand out from our competition?

How can we scale our operation for greater growth?

What tools can help streamline our processes, optimise information sharing and embrace information management best practices?

These information management-related questions are common. Planning and controlling project information directly impacts the ability to execute contracts, meet the terms of internal governance and compliance, make strategic growth decisions and help avoid penalties for late information. Choosing project information management software specifically designed and used for major capital projects will help you address all of these issues and deliver benefits swiftly, supporting the successful execution of projects through best practice information management processes.

Single source of truth

“In some firms, an estimated 40% of engineering time is dedicated to locating and validating information gathered from disparate systems.”1 

At the most basic level, implementing a project information management solution addresses the issue of where to find the correct version of a document by having a clearly defined, central location to store all project documents. In addition, the extensive use of metadata and numbering schemas greatly reduces the time required to locate the right document. When the document is found, all relevant document information is attached, including other related documents, the corresponding vendor & customer document numbers, and the document revision & approval history, which includes who approved what.

With the complexity of major capital projects, the proper management and tracking of multiple document revisions will ensure all engineers, vendors, and clients are accessing the most accurate, up-to-date version, or ‘the single source of the truth,’ which translates to fewer errors, less rework, and greater confidence among stakeholders.

Meet every document control compliance requirement

An environment that supports repeatable, systematic document control processes promotes efficiency, fewer errors and greater compliance. The very nature of using automation to streamline document control and related workflows allows for detailed audit data and reports on every activity within the system.  These reports can identify the who, when and what of each document’s lifecycle and can be formatted for specific reporting requirements to meet compliance and governance needs.

The ability to capture and maintain audit logs of each revision ensures the as-built document accurately captures all updates and changes. For documents such as local regulations, detailed vendor specifications, subcontractor deliverables and engineering drawings, members of the project team have a single source of up-to-date information. Less manual effort is required at all levels to validate the correct document and revision, but equally important is the ease of identifying, locating, and aggregating data for reports.

In addition to providing extensive auditing capabilities, project information management solutions offer automated document and design reviews. The automated process allows for formal storage and tracking at the document level through multiple revisions and relations to the final as-built document.

Aggregating the critical project information throughout the project provides complete confidence in document governance and the ability to provide compliance reports.

Make vendor data delivery a competitive advantage

Progressive project owners and EPCs increasingly specify rigorous vendor data delivery requirements to improve project handover to operations. The capability to provide this data is becoming key criteria for vendors, EPCs, and suppliers to win contracts or to be included on preferred supplier lists. The ability to provide the required data depends on capturing, storing, and organising all project documents throughout the project and not leaving it until the end.

The complexity and size of your project may further challenge your ability to manage vendor data, particularly if you further subcontract work. Tools to automate inbound and outbound transmittals and document reviews allow for rigorous control over documents moving in and out of the system while at the same time adding efficiency through automation. The use of technology to control document exchange ensures auditing and tracking of all documents, which in turn, ensures you can accurately report on the state of project documents and information flows at any point through the project’s lifecycle. Automated processing saves significant manual effort, reduces errors, and can organise multiple revisions to guarantee unique and cross-referenceable document numbering across the project with both internal and external participants.

For the client or third party stakeholders looking at regulatory compliance, a project may need to report on specific areas such as safety or environmental impacts. In some instances, owners have stated responsibility for environmental and safety competencies and hold suppliers and contractors accountable.

Demonstrating compliance to owners and third parties is challenging when information is scattered or formal process auditing doesn’t exist. Suitable project software alleviates the tedious and time-consuming task of gathering metrics and creating such reports by providing user friendly custom reporting.

Leveraging appropriate tools will protect against decreasing capacity to precisely produce and manage designs given large volumes or complex scenarios.

Formal storage and tracking of a document from start to handover provides critical information throughout the project and provides complete confidence for seamless handover to operations. Companies can use document monitoring and workflow processes to validate and track transmittals, reducing rework and reducing effort to track down missing documents. Leveraging automation and systems for documentation can alleviate manual, repetitive tasks and help reduce late penalties during the project end scramble to produce documentation. An integrated approach within a single system can restructure document management processes to simplify document identification, usage, and reporting. This approach will provide superior vendor data delivery capabilities that can set you apart from competitors.

Conclusion

In order to meet challenges and take advantage of the benefits of automated document information control, the tools available for meeting a project’s external requirements must be tightly integrated with the systems and processes storing and managing the data.

Centralised data storage with a single access point for all documents delivers the fundamental features of a productive communication hub. Transmittals allow for sending and receiving documents with tracking, providing official records of date sent and received. Members of the project team require a single source of accurate documents and real-time project data for documents such as local regulations, detailed vendor specifications, subcontractor deliverables, and engineering documents. The integrated approach to information sharing can help reduce schedule and budget overruns by providing insights and anticipating potential issues.

Both regulating and facilitating communication regarding the correct versions of multiple document revisions among internal stakeholders and the customer can present significant difficulty, but provides significant rewards for those who manage it well. Leveraging best practices employed in this area by owners and EPCs facilitates decision-making and allows for visibility into the project, which promotes confidence across a supplier organisation and with the owners relying on them.

1. Cost Analysis of Inadequate Interoperability in US Capital Facilities Industries; NIST GCR 04-867; Aug. 2004

www.coreworx.com

By Yvonne Monterroso, PMP Senior Product Manager, Coreworx

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