Why is Project Information so Important: How does Project Information translate to project success?

– Bruce Beck

Project information is the data and documentation generated by a number of sources including engineering, vendors, automation groups, contractors and operations as well as the C&Q team over the course of the project.  Accurate, complete information in the form of data, documentation and drawings is fundamentally important to not only the project team but also the owner.

The term Project Information Management (PIM)  has been used to describe the conscious deliberate management of data and documentation throughout a project.  Managing the flow of this information and assuring the quality of the information is vitally important to overall project success. Projects handle thousands if not millions of fields of data and documentation that define specifications, design, control strategy as well as operating conditions. Failures in information quality and/or availability can cause extensive delays, create mistakes and create additional cost for the project.

Many projects have made the mistake of assuming this information will flow easily, completely and accurately from a wide range of sources such as engineering, vendors, automation, construction, etc. However, reality has shown that the delivery of accurate complete information on time can be very difficult. This is especially true as projects are sourced globally. Many different teams are generating project information using a variety of documentation methods, paper, spreadsheets, databases, and ultimately sharing this information with other groups who are depending on the information they have to be accessible, accurate, complete and current. A failure in sending or receiving the current version of data and documents, or data systems that do not communicate efficiently, can be catastrophic. The information flow must be managed and requirements carefully communicated to all parties.

To address this concern, many projects have begun sourcing Project Information Management (PIM) teams to develop methods and approaches to collect, organize and evaluate project data and documentation.  These teams work cross-functionally with engineering firms; equipment vendors and contractors to assure data and documentation requirements are understood across the entire team and that the project objectives of data collection and management are successfully met. Typical project Information requirements include; the type of information required, format of data and documentation and clear understanding regarding when it is needed in the project life cycle. The PIM team receives the information and evaluates it for completeness and accuracy while tracking overall data and documentation status.

A typical project life cycle covers concept, definition, implementation, handover and closeout of the project, followed by day-to-day operations by the facility owner.  PIM teams manage information throughout this entire life cycle and ultimately deliver this information to the end-user to support facility operations.  Projects that have implemented PIM programs have seen data and documentation accuracy and completeness improve greatly.

Initially this information benefited primarily C&Q, but as PIM programs demonstrated their effectiveness, other groups began to realize this information was a rich source of accurate complete information associated with the project.  Accurate, complete data and documentation is not only the foundation for C&Q but also the foundation of sustainable operations. When project information is managed well, C&Q time is reduced and operations is enabled to maintain the qualified state. Accurate complete project information also supports technical decisions, as well as deviation resolution, and change management. Simply stated; Geting the data right, sets the stage for many positive things in a project as well as operations. Today PIM status has become an important reportable metric for many projects.

The Project Manager as well as the C&Q leader should always assure that project information is being managed and delivered in a controlled manner.  Failure to oversee and address this area will often result in mistakes, delays and additional cost.  Is project information and the management of project information a key part of your project?

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