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What defines a successful engineering project?
An engineering project is considered to be successful when all the requirements are met and the deliverables are delivered as per the requirements and the quality of the project to be maintained as per the standards. A successful project involves the project management approaches to be applied intensively so as to achieve the maximum output from the resources available. Further, it is economically feasible and socially viable. The ability of a project to serve the required functions at the present as well as ability to accommodate against the changing conditions in future is also a factor determining the success of an engineering project.
Why is undertaking Front End Planning (FEP) and/or Front End Loading (FEL) essential for achieving a successful project?
The Front End Loading or the Front End Planning, also known as the Pre-project planning or Front-end engineering design is the process that is used in the planning phase of a project so as to develop the conceptual layout of the project plan in processing industries. The Front-end planning involves the development of strategies and plans for identifying the information that would then be used to address the risks in the workplace and help in the decision making for the resources to be used to their maximum potential and thus achieve an optimized involvement of the resources in the project.
As perSarde (2016), the front end loading incorporates the process of design and involves the required planning in an early stage of the project. At the early phases of the project, it is significantly much easier to incorporate the changes and the cost associated with incorporating the changes is relatively very low. Hence, the involvement of the front-end planning at such a time plays an important role in the project life-cycle. The industries that are highly capital intensive or include the projects taking place over a very long life cycle provide the typical examples for this process to be applied.
This process involves a stage-gate process, where the project has to pass through subsequent checkpoints where the project’s progress is checked and analysed to allow it to go further into the deployment. The incorporation of this process adds up sometimes and cost to the initial phase of the process, but it then becomes essential for the later process to be carried up easily. The costs incurred in this phase are much lower than the costs incurred in the later phases of the project (Motta, et. al., 2014).
The front end planning becomes the most critical to be carried up in the planning of a project and is a major factor in affecting the success of a project. It incorporates the determination of the mission or the need of the project, the basic definition of the project, justification of the project, basic project plan and the organizational structure for the project, and a plan for the project execution(Sarde, 2016). This then helps to develop the information for the managers to be used to take decisions on the project like whether to take it further into the process or to terminate or to modify any of the outcomes or requirements of the project. This allows the flexibility in the project design to be accommodated easily in the earlier stages and thereby making the process economical (Edkins, et. al., 2013).
Refer to the separate attachment to the Assignment and to the Table entitled ‘FEP essential for project successes.
What activities/components of the work in the project would likely be undertaken by the:
The components in the construction work that are likely to be taken by the client are the definition of the requirements that is the need base of any project. The deliverables of the project are identified in this phase and the requirements by the customer are used to lay down the process plan by the contractor. The need statement is thus generated and correspondingly the plans to implement the process to obtain the needs are set up (Al-Harthi, et. al., 2014). The client also plays an important role in the communication while the solution is developed and to minimize any chances of error while the implementation is carried up as it takes up the cost expenditures from 15% to 94%. At the last, the closure of the project sums up with its delivery to the client.
The engineering consultants play an important role in the front end planning for any project. They help the client to properly channelize their requirements and make up the need statement for the same (Sarda & Dewalkar, 2016). They also help in determining the feasibility of the alternatives laid out during the front end loading. They may need to carry up the investigations for the same and also produce reports for the design and the processes. The alternatives may be analysed by them and then the best solution is generated based on the analyses. Further, they also take up the responsibility of the supervision of the construction process being implemented and assist the client in the legal aspects and formalities related to the project (Nikumbh & Pimplikar, 2014).
The activities undertaken by the construction contractors involve the planning, managing, and monitoring of all the work. They identify the alternatives for the project development; develop the concepts based on those. The options thus identified are then analysed for their feasibility with all the other factors and client’s requirements and choices and then the best solution is selected along with performing the detailed scoping and front-end engineering design. They then take up the finalized solution into the execution and implement the site development and construction as per the designs and plans of the solution. Lastly, they hand it over to the operations and deliver the as-built data packs of the building/facility (Nikumbh & Pimplikar, 2014).
From the table outline, what is meant by the followingterms?
The accuracy range for a project defines for us a range that acts as a tolerance in the actual values of the costs. The term ‘L’ refers to the low ranges and ‘H’ refers to the high ranges. This is due to the fact that ranges of a project get affected markedly due to a number of factors related to the complexity of the project. The accuracy range denotes a typical variation of the actual cost of the estimated cost plans of the project at various stages. As it may be seen from the image too, the accuracy improves as the project progresses through its life cycle as the costs associated with the processes become clearer on moving to the further stages.
The gates as incorporated in the table are used to distribute the process into different phases or stages. These gates are called stage-gates which act as checkpoints for the process to be analysed and then taken into the further stage. This stage-gate model is used to identify the checks on the quality of the process being executed, its business viability and the action plan. It also checks if the deliverables associated with each phase are being delivered or not, and sees the criteria and the outputs of the process to be intact (Alam, 2014). A process is allowed to move further to the next phase from a gate only after ensuring that the reports generated from its analysis are as per the requirements.
In each of the columns of the table under the sub-heading ‘Cost Expenditure’, explain what each of the percentages of cost expenditure in the columns means.
The cost expenditure row as mentioned in the table is used to refer to the costs associated with each of the phases. These percentages are noted cumulatively for the various phases of the project and denote in the format of the total costs incurred by far in the process for each phase while considering the costs incurred in the previous phases as well.
The cost associated with the define need stage is 0.5% since this is the process where the client enlists the requirements and then a need statement is generated on the basis of the requirements generated by the client and the interactions between the client and the contractor. Hence, the costs incurred are less in this phase. The alternative identification stage describes the cost as 1 to 2%. This is again due to the fewer costs incurred in the process of brainstorming for identifying the alternatives.
It is then the analysing of these alternatives which include some research work and thus includes 3 to 5% of the costs. The selection of a single solution and the plan development for the solution then include the increased costs up to 6 to 9% and 10 to 14% respectively. This is due to an increase in the costs associated with these phases. Then this is followed by the implementation stage which incurs the costs from 15 to 94% in front end loading and execution, being the process that includes the most material costs and labour costs in the process and therefore having a high share in the costs. This is then again followed by handover and close out which again require much of the paperwork and no such significant costs associated with them.
Design-build (Design and Construct), Design-Bid-Build (Design-Tender-Bid), EPCM are engineering project delivery methods (or contracting approaches). For each of these ‘project delivery’ methods above and with reference to the Table, at what stage in the project would potential contractors become involved in the project process?
1. As per Rodriguez (2016), the design-build method is the one where the designer and contractor get merged. This kind of contracting practice is widely used globally and incorporates a single entity taking over both the design and the construction process. Both of them simultaneously take place throughout the span of the process. This type of contracting method may pose a challenge of costs associated with the project since they can’t be easily determined in such processes. This keeps the process prone to iterations in the cost models associated with it.
This method is usually taken up when there is a scope for starting up the construction work even before the design work is finished. This could be seen as an opportunity left with the owner to save time by implementing this process if it is viable. The method is also backed by the federal agencies which prefer this model so as to obtain fast-track schedules and getting the final project completion at the earliest (Rodriguez, 2016).
In the table, this method can be seen to be applicable throughout the design and implementation phase. The client’s requirements would be used to identify the need statement and the method would then be applied to perform all the underlying phases in between and then delivering the final as-built plans.
2. As per Meghana et. al. (2016), the design-bid-build method is a widely preferred contracting method in the construction industry. This method breaks down the construction process into three stages where the process is designed by the architects in the first stage, bids are solicited by the contractors in the second stage and then finally the construction execution is carried upon by the contractor selected in the bidding process.
In this process, the process initiates when the client hires architecture or an engineering firm for the design of the project based on the client's requirements. The architecture or the engineering firm then makes the process available for the bidding by the contractors. The winning bidder then undertakes the process further and executes the construction work in the implementation phase. The process then further involves the role of sub-contractors and suppliers too. The goals of the different teams may differ as they may have a difference in their objectives and the project outputs (Meghana, et. al., 2016).
In the above table, this method can be applied throughout the design and implementation phase. The design phase would be the stage one of the method, followed by an additional bidding phase as the second stage, and then the implementation phase would mark the end of the third stage of the method.
EPCM – it is contract or approach in which a single contractor proved management services to client to support Designing or setting up layout of the project, procuring the various requirements in term of raw materials and finally building or constructing the project as per the desired requirement. It is basically linked with the creating of an operational facility for the client base. In the particular engineering segment, the task to be generally performed by the contractor is creation of detailed design and other engineering works, scheduling of task to get the activity done in the desired deadline and finally making the estimate or budget for the overall project. In next procurement phase, it involves raising bids or tenders for the purchase or invoicing of goods and services, attaining of raw material and transferring it to the required location. Finally, the most important phase which involves following up the schedule prepared in the planned phase is the construction of actual task (Wai & Han, 2012). The professional services, in this case, are provided by the expert. The contractor is fully held responsible for the quality and delivery of the project on a timely basis. However, the EPCM contractor further diversifies the risk and responsibilities to various subcontractors who are basically experts in their fields. Alternatively, it performs coordination and supervision activity to the client. Further, it helps the client in following the budget and completes the project in standard benchmark cost. It further enhances the management capabilities to make major changes more effectively and efficiently.
‘We tend to exaggerate the importance of the contracting approach to project success or failure. No contracting approach guarantees success, most contracting approaches can succeed. Contracting is a second-order concern.’
Discuss the meaning of this statement. Do you agree or disagree with the statement as written?
The contracting approaches play an important role in determining the process to be followed while carrying out a new construction project. They facilitate the process to be carried up as per the time and cost requirements given by the client. But, a project’s success or failure should not be attributed solely to its contracting approach. There may be a number of other reasons for the project’s performance which may lead to its success or failure. Hence, I agree with the above statement that the contracting approaches don’t guarantee a project’s success and hence, they should not be associated with the guarantee to the success of a project.
The various contracting methods that are incorporated are just to facilitate the client so that he may incorporate the required method as per the time frames or budget available. There are a number of critical success factors that provide a means to determine the effectiveness of the project. These critical success factors or the CSFs are classified into five main categories. These categories are the human-related factors, project-related factors, project procedures, project management actions, and external environment.
The project- related factors include the type of the project, the nature of the project, the number of floors present, project complexity, and the project size. These form the factors that directly or indirectly pose an effect over the project’s status, its success or failure. The project management actions involve the factors like the communication system, planning effort, control of sub-contractors’ works, control mechanism, feedback capabilities, implementation of effective quality assurance plans (Serpella, et. al., 2014). These combine up to form the factors that effect on the parameters such as the proper coordination and practices involved during the construction process. The external environment also poses up the factors due to the economic environment, social environment, political environment, industrial relations environment, etc. These combine up to pose the effects to which a project is subjected upon due to the external environment around the project. The human-related factors involve a number of factors such as the nature of client, his past experience, the size of the client’s organization, client’s emphasis on the quick construction, ability to brief, design contribution by the client, skills of the team leaders such as planning, organizing, coordinating, motivating, the project team leaders’ adaptability to the changes in the project plan, etc. All these factors maintain an effect over the contractor’s approach towards the projects. All these factors play an important role in the contractor’s delivery of the deliverables and the ability to meet the client’s requirements. These factors thus play an important role in shaping the success or failure of a project and affect the quality of the project to a high level (Serpella, et. al., 2014).
There are various approaches as discussed above in the present case study but there is no single approach which ensures the ultimate success of the project. There might be a possibility that the approach with least probability might result in the successful outcome, whereas, on the other hand, a highly popular approach might result out in failure. It is the ultimate dedication, hard work, and compatibility of the business manager that supports towards the positive outcome. The proper testing of the process being carried upon and the analyses of the various approaches being taken up at different subsequent stages should also be carried up so as to identify the faults as and when they appear and take the corrective measures. The early analysis will help to shape the action plan as per the on-going process and enable the contractor to deliver the project deliverables as per the requirements started by the client in the need statement. Both micro and macroeconomic factors are responsible for ascertaining the costs and meeting the targets and their respective deadlines for the project (Serpella, et. al., 2014).
Sometimes, it is quoted as an argument against the introduction of various approaches of construction contracts in some of the organizations of such type which faced out failures. This is thus an unbiased argument that to make a project successful, the pre-determined approaches should be followed. The success is dependent upon the total employee involvement in the project being carried upon. It should not be attributed to just the contracting approaches as the only factor.
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