ADePT Design Builder

1. What is ADePT?

ADePT is a methodology and supporting software suite that enables the complex design delivery processes of multiple project stakeholders to be captured, integrated and streamlined on the basis of information production. The approach is aimed at development of a design programme which is fully integrated across the design disciplines and sub-contractors and based on the critical flows of information between members of the design team. We call this the ‘Integrated Design Programme’. Subsequent management of information flows is a much better way of controlling the design process than simply monitoring production of deliverables or rate of fee spend. This is achieved with the use of ‘Design Control Dashboards.

 

There are four stages to the ADePT methodology which are summarised below:

Define the process:

The scope of the design is agreed between the team members; a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is defined; responsibilities are defined; dependencies & information flows are defined; and other key properties, such as project stages, are defined. The ADePT Design Builder comes packaged with an embedded 'generic' design process model as standard.

Optimise Sequence and identify iteration:

The design sequence is determined, based on the flow of information between activities; iteration is identified; and key assumptions to manage iteration can be identified.

Synchronise with your preferred planning tool to generate schedule:

The design sequence is represented in the form of a programme in your tool of choice (Primavera, Asta Power Project, AMSProject) via a dynamic 2-way data exchange; ‘pinch points’ between design and procurement / construction can be assessed and resolved.

Implement production control principles to manage design workflow - ADePT Design Manager application:

Short-term Workplans and look-ahead schedules are issued; progress and constraints (reasons for failure) are captured; the programme is updated on a regular basis; management reports summarising progress and performance are produced; and actions to resolve problems are identified.

 

2. What makes ADePT different to CPM?

Unlike standard CPM tools, ADePT enables forward flowing and backward flowing logic to be represented and analysed to determine the optimum sequence in which to undertake design work. In so doing, ADePT eradicates needless rework cycles from the process (that are typically a result of working in a sub-optimal sequence where information must be assumed in order to proceed) whilst pin-pointing periods of valuable iteration – where integrated collaborative design involving several disciplines will enable coordination of complex design interfaces (thus preventing coordination clashes).

 3. What extra time do designers need to provide when utilising ADePT?

Each member of the design team must provide between 2 and 3 days of input to support the development of the integrated design programme. Initially, each discipline must allocate an individual to support the ADePT process. An initial day will be spent in a 2 hour briefing on ADePT. This is immediately followed by a project characteristics and risk workshop – at which attendees will be sharing their views on the project; determining an initial work breakdown structure for the design; and defining any risks that they feel could impact or undermine the successful delivery of the project. A workshop ‘briefing document’ is provided to ensure that key issues can be considered prior to joining the session.

A ½ day meeting with the ADePT facilitator follows. This is a one-on-one session (but colleagues may wish to attend to support the design activity definition process) that involves the representative from each design function to define the activities that they will be undertaking under their scope of work. A further ½ day is required to review and approve the resulting activity breakdown, provide durations for activities, and add in any ‘project specific’ information inputs.

Finally, a further ½ day will be required to review the draft integrated design schedule and advise of any changes / amendments that may be required. The programme will be handed over to the project team in a formal workshop – this enables the underlying rationale to be shared. It is advised that a further ½ - 1 day is made available for unforeseen input. Thus, 3 days of input from one member of each design function should be allocated.

It should be noted that the ‘steps’ outlined above should be undertaken anyway by a diligent and integrated design team and as such, this is simply channelling work that would have been completed anyway into the ADePT implementation methodology.

 4. How is the schedule used to allocate work?

The completed programme is broken-down into a number of ‘work plans’ – with the work period being dictated by the project team based on how often they want to report, and update, progress / performance (a monthly reporting cycle is not uncommon in larger projects). Each ‘work plan’ will contain a number of activities that must be started, progressed or completed in the period. The activities, each of which has a designated owner, are then listed and distributed to their owners (via a simple spreadsheet format) – with instruction to complete only those activities that they have been asked to and to the required status level. This represents the focus period for the design team and ensures that only the activities that need to be progressed are progressed – thus avoiding designers attempting to undertake work that is not yet a priority. The lead designer will then have responsibility for assigning activities to members of their team. This will again be done as a list and there is no need to distribute the entire integrated schedule each work period; experience has shown that few designers see schedules day to day anyway.

 5. What information must be reported back by the design team and how long will it take?

The designers report their progress on the same spreadsheet that was used to allocate their current ‘focus period’ activity list. Each designer is asked to complete only one mandatory data field within the spreadsheet when they report performance: the percentage complete against each activity. However, if the percentage complete does not match the plan, the designers are asked to complete two further fields: i) the reason for failure (these are allocated from a drop-down menu) i.e., the reasons why they failed to complete the activities as planned; and ii) the ‘new’ expected completion date. The completed spreadsheet is then attached to an e-mail and sent to the individual responsible for project controls (usually the planner and/or Design Manager). The time taken to complete the progress report is dependent upon the number of activities that were in the ‘work plan’. However, 15-20 minutes per reporting cycle is not unreasonable; assuming of course that those doing the design have reported back their current status…this will have to be collated first! Again, this should not be considered additional work as it should have been done as ‘good practice’ anyway by each lead designer.

 6. How is the schedule used to identify and overcome future problems?

In parallel with focusing on completing these activities to plan (as describe in 4 above), each team member that owns activities in the subsequent ‘work plan’ is provided with a list of the activities that they will be undertaking in their next work plan (this is called the ‘lookahead period’). These activities should not be progressed but instead the designers should report at the end of the current work period any ‘constraints’ that they feel could stop them completing them in the next ‘work period’. In this way, future constraints / problems are identified ahead of them creating slippage and the Design Manager can take action to remove the constraints, enable the design to progress to schedule, or re-plan the future work to take account of the impending problem.

 7. How is performance reported and in what format? Are the reports simple to understand?

Design performance is reported using a number of simple metrics, including, but not limited to: design days completed against plan (Work in Progress - WIP), activities completed to plan (percentage plan complete - PPC); status on critical path (if a hard end date for design is confirmed); Documents issued to plan; and ‘reasons for delay’ (root cause analysis if 100% PPC is not achieved).

These measures are not absolute and each provides an insight into a different aspect of project and team member performance – in combination that provide a clear perspective on current status. Reports can be set-up to provide insights into any key aspects of the delivery process simply and quickly e.g., the potential for achieving key procurement dates given the current status of design completion. Each of these indicators is combined to create a simple dashboard (see below) that is honed to meet the specific needs of the management and / or executive team.

8. What additional work and time is input by planners / design managers / designers in progress reporting?

Time must be invested to collate and input data on progress (designers), check that the progress that is reported is true and accurate (Design Manager), update the schedule with reported status and generate the dashboard (planner), and interpret and report status as part of the dashboard output (Design Manager). Also, the reporting period will determine how often these activities must be undertaken – i.e., once per reporting cycle. However, as has been stated previously, these are all activities that should be undertaken as part of standard delivery and project management practice and as such, they will only appear to incur additional time and effort if those providing input have not done this as ‘standard delivery practice’.

 

Owner

Activity

Duration

Supporting notes

Designer

Input progress against each activity within the workplan (into spreadsheet) along with any reasons for failure and constraints in the lookahead period

1 hour

1. This period will be required for each designer.

2. This does not account for the time taken to collect feedback on progress from those doing the work.

Design Manager

Review progress from all team members & carry-out spot-checks to verify status prior to confirming that data can be committed to the programme

2 hours

1. Requirement for spot-checks reduces over time as impact of ‘non-disclosure’ is understood

2. Team members become self-policing over time in practice

Planner

Import the performance data into the ADePT Design Manager and run ‘reports’ to dashboard (which auto generates)

2 hours

1. Dashboards must be set up in the tool initially – 2 hour workshop.

2. May require work in programming tool to reschedule / amend logic if big delays start to occur (through non-performance of team members).

Design Manager

Develop ‘interpretation report’ to underpin the ‘Dashboard’ and identify actions to be undertaken in next work period to ensure delivery to plan

3 hours

1. a workshop per reporting cycle works well to discuss design process performance and assign actions (all team members for 2 hours is ample)

In terms of the time incurred in utilising the ‘Management, monitoring and reporting’ – the ADePT Design Manager application has been developed to keep this to a minimum and make it as simple and quick as possible to not only generate workplans and distribute ‘lists of activities’ to each team member, but also to enable data to be collated & ‘re-integrated’ into the tool to auto-generate the reports and update the project / design programme. The time required per reporting cycle is provided in the table above but it is clear that this ‘input’ is spread between various parties (as would be suspected and is the case in traditional approaches to statusing programmes).

9. What benefit does it bring to projects?

Consider: i) the fees associated with re-design and abortive effort owing to a lack of design co-ordination; ii) the impact of re-design if procurement, and worse still, construction, has proceeded on the basis of incorrect design information; and, finally iii) the costs associated with maintaining work on site for weeks, if not months, longer than planned, let alone the potential for liquidated damages associated with contract delay, owing to schedule slippage. With this in mind, the benefit of increasing predictability of schedule and certainty of delivery is self evident.

 Customers to date have summarised the improved efficiencies and effectiveness arising from integrated project delivery using ADePT as follows:

 

  • ADePT identifies and removes “turbulence” from the project process;
  • It provides greater certainty of design co-ordination;
  • It offers an ability to better prioritise design work;
  • It integrates sub-contractor design with consultant design in an effective way;
  • Management of design change is more effective than is typically the case;
  • Collaboration between design team members is improved;
  • Workflow control focuses the team on task completion;
  • It fosters a ‘self-policing’ design team; and
  • The relationship between delivery of outputs and design fee is made clearer.

 

Additionally, savings of between 10 to 22.5% of the total design fee and 0.75 to 1.65% of a project’s total cost have been reported by some of the industry’s leading contractors and consultants. Three simple examples of how and where these savings were accrued in recent projects are:

 

  • 32 week saving on achieving co-ordinated design in one complex work package;
  • At least 5 man-weeks saved in avoiding the knock-on effect of one change; and
  • Approximately £75,000 saving where design fees were linked to achievement of plan

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