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Enterprise Project Performance

Foundations of Progress Measurement (Part I): Engineering

The Importance of Progress Measurement 

Successfully executing projects hinges on many variables. Yet, the fundamental question that must be answered before any proactive or prescriptive measures can be implemented is this: Where are we today? This seems like a simple question. However, it often proves very difficult to answer accurately. That is why accurate progress measurement is so important.

The objective and realistic measurement of physical progress during a construction project is a key element for successful project management. Progress measurement is an input directly used to help determine the earned value of a project and forecasts such as cost at completion and estimated finished date. You can use these outputs to apply corrective action, helping keep costs and schedule under control.  

Sources of Progress 

The method for measuring the physical progress made on-site must reflect the correct phase of the project. In this post, I will illustrate how to determine physical progress during the design phase of a project from sources such as: 

  • A 3D model built with a 3D design tool 
  • Electrical, piping, or other schematic deliverable created with 2D design tools 
  • Other types of documents available within the document management tool 

I will also explain how to consolidate this information into a project control tool. This will allow you to evaluate the progress of each cost structure individual element. 

Establish Weighted Milestones 

There are multiple ways to measure progress on a project. In my opinion, the most valuable method to use during the design phase is the weighted milestone method. The principle is to establish a list of milestones that make the design life cycle of each type of object measurable, then the weighted properties to be completed to meet each milestone. The advantage of this method is that it measures how the work is progressing between two different milestones. This results in realistic information on project progress.

The diagram below is an example of a model for a given object type: 

If we consider a state of progress at a time T for a work package that contains several types of objects, then the consolidation formula is: 

To consolidate the progress of all the engineering work packages, the hourly budget for each package (established from the estimate) is considered a good weighting factor. The consolidation formula is then: 

Automation Through Integration 

On complex projects, the enormous number of moving parts (sometimes literally) makes accurate progress measurement challenging. Unfortunately, this is too often a manual process. The result is delays in information and greatly increases the potential for errors.  To dramatically increase speed and accuracy, organizations must strive to automate progress measurement as much as possible. As a result, they will see improvements in project performance.

The successful automation of such a process requires close integration between design tools and project control tools. This is one of the advantages of utilizing software that delivers a full lifecycle project ecosystem, where data is shared seamlessly between tools. This type of integration is available between Hexagon's different solution suites: 3D and VisualizationEngineering and SchematicsProcurement, Fabrication and ConstructionAsset Lifecycle Information Management, and Enterprise Project Performance. The screenshot below illustrates the calculation of the earned value based on the percentage of completion and the weightings: 

Imagine having accurate and up-to-date progress information at the push of a button. What kind of impact do you think that would have on your projects?  

Next Steps

For more information, you can watch our recent webinar on the “Digital Transformation of Progress Measurement.”  

Parts II and III of this series focus on progress measurement during the procurement and construction phases of the project. 

About the Author

Jean-Luc Ozoux is currently in charge of EcoSys Business Development at Hexagon, a company that supports its customers in their digital transformation by offering innovative solutions to adopt new technologies applied to the management of large industrial projects. He is an MBA graduate of Paris University in Information Systems and Management. He has been helping organizations implement their Capital Project Management solutions for 30 years. His experience with major project management software, as well as the advice he provides to major companies in France and Europe, allows him to take a critical look at the very rapid evolution of tools and technologies that are transforming the working methods, culture and tools that need to be mastered today.

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