Use Cases

Within the context of general construction contracting most processes are project centric.  CEM’s primary concern is providing the information framework and workflow function for the implementation of project centric control processes.  It is not suitable for corporate processes that concern overall management of an organization independent of any project context.  This means there is still a need to integrate processes between CEM and other corporate enterprise systems.  A more detailed discussion of this topic will be covered in Systems Architecture section.

The following are project centric use cases where CEM could be applied.

CRM / Sales Forecast – Scoping work items begins with sales forecasting.  Each item in the sales forecast would be represented by at least one work item with the constructed entity dimension complete.  It would represent the start and completion date of the work, its duration and with a single constraint the cost and owner / architect.   As a project progresses in the procurement process, additional work items may be added to clarify the general scope of the work.  At this point there would only be a few work items that give enough detail to compare the opportunity to past work for the purposes of understanding the general contractors past performance on that type of work.  This would help prioritize the pursuit of the opportunity and inform the best course of action to secure the work.

Conceptual Budgeting – Even at the earliest stages of a project, CEM would be used to scope a project at a very high level of granularity focusing on enough detail to describe the project by its major constructed entities, assemblies and work results. Attributes of each work item dimension would be complete and used to compare to prior work with similar work items even if the comparative project was different in size and scope. 

Documents that represent constraints in the class are:

  • Budgets
  • Estimates

Work items are the unit of value represented in these documents.  There dimensions define the scope of the work at a high conceptual level.  Every new project and opportunity adds relevant comparable data based on a common understanding of scope and unit of measure.  A catalog of current unit prices could also be maintained based on assembly or other relevant dimensions that could be used to fill in holes or provide another comparison point when evaluating systems. 

Bidding – CEM provides the framework for the bidding process.

Documents that represent constraints in this class are:

  • Bid Packages
  • Proposals
  • Bids

Work items defined in the conceptual budgeting stage would be further decomposed and detailed to a level of granularity that would support the classification of the work by trade responsibility.  Each bid package would be represented as a constraint for one or more work items.  This provides a bid package document with a built in schedule of items that should be detailed in the sub bids.  Bid comparisons become easier with all bidding to the same scope at the same level of detail.

Contract Document Management – Contract documents define the intended result of the project.  They are the detail information that communicates all requirements that must be fulfilled for acceptance of the work by the owner. 

Documents that represent constraints in this class are:

  • Drawings
  • Specifications
  • Addenda
  • Architectural Supplemental Instructions (ASI)

Each document is a constraint and has workflow and status.  As contract documents are created and issued they are linked to work items that they defined.  As new versions of documents are issued possibly as part of the change management process, they are linked to the affected work items.  This allows for a way of understanding the most current contract requirements for each work item.

Commitments – Issuing commitments is the fundamental way the general contractor transfers his risk to subcontractors that perform the work.

Documents that represent constraints in the class are:

  • Owner Architect Agreement
  • Owner Contractor Agreement
  • Subcontract Agreement
  • Professional Services Agreement

Part of the commitment process is detailing exactly what scope of work the subcontractor will perform.  CEM provides the framework to describe the subcontract scope of work in a consistent reproducible method. Work items would be scoped to a level of detail so all items explicitly linked to the commitment are part of the subcontractors work.  There are no work item exceptions enumerated in the commitment.

Size and duration of the work influence the number and granularity of work items linked to the commitment.  For example if a project consists of a small amount of concrete work to patch a sidewalk and the work will be performed in a single day or two it would be appropriate for there to be a single work item defining the scope of the commitment.  The work result dimension may be just “Concrete” with a project scope sheet that describes the intended result that is appropriate for the scope of small concrete work and would detail all items and processes necessary to complete the concrete as a whole.

On projects where there is a large and varied amount of concrete work there may be hundreds or thousands of work items detailed.  The concrete work may be broken down into formwork, reinforcing, placement and other activities needed to install large concrete structures.  They would also be detailed for each space where single pours would happen.  There is a good chance the work will be performed by one or more specially subcontractors and possibly sub-subcontractors.  The project scope sheets would be more specific and detailed the deeper the work items are defined in the dimension hierarchy.

The key is by scoping the subcontract at the appropriate level of granularity, the requirements are contextually correct for the given scope of work.  What is expected of the subcontractor is neither lacking in key responsibilities nor overly specified causing confusion as to the actual intent of the commitment.

Project Scope Sheets – Descriptive documents prepared by the general contractor that detail the requirements of the scope of work apportioned to the subcontractor.  They include specific instructions about how the work is to be performed and any other work specific requirements not included in the construction documents.  CEM would maintain a standard set of scope descriptions and requirements organized by assembly and or work result dimensions.  This would allow for generation of scope sheets based on the scoping process.

Change Management – Change management consists of multiple sequential constraints that ultimately effect some modification to the work. 

Documents that represent constraints in the class are:

  • Request For Interpretation (RFI)
  • Request for Proposal (RFP)
  • Change Order Request (COR)
  • Construction Change Directive (CCD) *
  • Architectural Supplemental Instruction (ASI) *
  • Change Order (CO) *
  • Subcontract Change Order (SCO) *

A typical chain of constraints that would be used to manage a change would be: RFI, RFP, COR, CO and SCO.  Each constraint would be linked to the affected work items and if necessary new work items created to represent the changed state.  The sequence of constraints is based on the constraint class and when viewed as a continuous workflow determines the status and duration of the change.  Linked work items would now be constrained by the change sequence so priority and critical path impact would be known. 

The important point of this is you can start to communicate with authority the net impact of a change based on the current state of construction at the very beginning of the change workflow.  Changes that clearly lie on the critical path, and have no float would be demonstrably more important than changes that have large amounts of float.  The model explicitly demonstrates the net impact of the change and as such supports request for acceleration costs and or additional general conditions cost based on the net delay.

As the work progresses any lower priority change workflow may become a priority if the work sequence changes or there has been sufficient delay in resolving the change that it now impacts the critical path.  This gives all project stakeholders the insight needed when determining the correct response to the change and allows for the least impactful solution. 

Using the principles of scoping each change would consist of one or more work items that may be deleted, modified or added within the context of the change.  Work items become the schedule of values that the change will be accounted to.  When a change order request is submitted it has each affected work item listed with its value, the sum of all work items is the value of the change order request.  The days impact would be the change in duration on the critical path, so changes that do not impact the critical path would not be eligible for delay related costs.  Network analysis would highlight which potential changes contribute to the delay so responsibility of the cost impact could be appropriately allocated.

The level of effort to manage a change is the same or even less than traditional management controls, but the big payoff is its explicit position of the change workflow in the overall model and its participation in the critical path analysis.

Quality Assurance – Efforts that provide information about how the general contractor and his subcontractors intend on achieving the desired results of the project.  Quality assurance efforts produce documentation that must be submitted and approved prior to fabrication, delivery and or installation of the work. 

Documents that represent constraints in the class are:

  • Product Data
  • Coordination Drawings
  • Material Certificates
  • Installer Certifications
  • Samples
  • Mockup’s

Each constraint becomes a submittal which has a workflow to create, submit and approve.  This process is detailed in the Submittal Tracking section of this document.

Quality Control – Efforts undertaken by the general contractor or third party that assure the work installed complies with the requirements of the project.  Like quality assurance, these efforts produce documentation that demonstrate compliance. 

Documents in this class that represent constraints are:

  • Tests
  • Inspections
  • Field Observations
  • Certifications

The result of a quality control constraint may be the identification of a non-compliance issue – which is another type of control process discussed below.

Submittal Tracking – Submittals are the contractual communication process between the contractor and the architect / owner.  Each submittal represents a constraint with workflow.  All projects are different and may have slightly different workflow requirements for approval, so the model would support dimension workflow rules specific to the submittal constraint class.

Through the specification, the architect sets the minimum submittal requirements that he believes are necessary and requires submission and approval prior to the fabrication, installation and acceptance of the work.  The general contractor may also require additional submittals for coordination.  This is where the ability of CEM to inform the work from past experience comes into play.  CEM could have a catalog of additional required submittals that proved to be key on prior work.  The catalog would be organized by dimension, so would be contextually appropriate for the current project and would be available for inclusion during the scoping process. 

The submittal workflow is defined on the constraint class and can be customized at the varying levels of scope.

Material Status – Process of tracking the fabrication and delivery of material required for the installation of a work items.  Material status can be represented in two different ways in CEM.

The first is as a constraint on one or more work items where the material will be installed.  In this case there is no requirement for the cost of the material to be separated from the work item.  The status of the material fabrication and deliver is represented by the constraint with its cost represented as a part of the work item and will only be paid when the work item completes.  All work items would be scoped Responsibility::Provide.  They would also have commitment and quality assurance constraints where the constraint classes would sequence the material status workflow subsequent to any commitment and or quality assurance work flows.  In this way the critical path would be calculated appropriately with the overall constraint duration the sum of the commitment, quality assurance and material status work flow durations.  This requires that all quality assurance constraints are complete prior to the start of fabrication or delivery even if the requirement is not technically required until the actual installation starts.

The second way to manage the material status is via a work item that is scoped Responsibility::Furnish and has a predecessor dependency on the work item Responsibility::Install.  This method would be used where there is a requirement to separate the cost of the material from the installation or the sequence of commitment or the quality assurance constraints need to be separated between the furnish and install of the work item.  When the furnish work item is complete, the material is on site or suitably stored off site ready for payment.  The duration of the material status is derived from the work item duration and is sequenced in the critical path calculation based on its constraints and its dependency to the install work item.

In both cases, logs and reports would be blind to the actual method used to manage material status and would contain both in any update or reporting processes.

Progress (Field) Reports - Progress reports provide the detailed narrative of the actual execution of the work.  They need to contain information relative to the activity occurring on the project each day, what work has started, the progress of work underway and any issues that are preventing work from proceeding as planned.  Progress reports in the CEM model would center around the work item and constraint.  The report would include an item for each work item that is in progress and any active constraint workflows where the superintendent has responsibility.  A progress report would not be exclusive to field activities, but a variant of the same report could be utilized by project management to report progress of constraints within their responsibility.

Each item in a progress report would include the following information:

  • Start Date – This is the work item start date and could be set as part of including new items in the field report.
  • Remaining Duration – Defaults to the current remaining duration of the work item and if updated, updates the work item remaining duration.  This is the primary way the schedule is maintained.
  • General Note – Narrative of work performed that day.  If this is a constraint it is a note about the progress of the constraint workflow.
  • Actual Units – Number of units of the work item installed that day.
  • Subcontract Man Hours Worked – Number of men and hours worked that day for the work item.

The progress report is where performance issues are substantiated.  By clearly tying detail observations to the actual work item that may be delaying the project all relevant information is coordinated and readily available for analysis and reporting.

The actual output of progress reporting would not be limited to the daily report.  There would now be multiple different progress reports that would be focused on work items and all relevant data linked to the work item, the progress note being just one set of facts.  This decouples the collection of progress notes from the actual way progress reported.  Progress reporting becomes more exception in nature focusing attention on critical issues not just a monolithic document that contains all information regardless of importance.

Non-Compliance Issue - Each work item must meet the requirements of its start constraints.  During the installation all or part of the work may be determined to be in variance of the requirements making the work item non-compliant.  The identification is normally through one or more of the completion constraints of the work item such as a field report, test, inspection or observation by the architect.  When a non-compliant work item is identified a new completion constraint of “Non-Compliance” would be created and linked to the affected work items. 

The non-compliance constraint will have workflow for resolution of the issue and as such would have duration and responsibility.  The constraint would now participate in the critical path calculation and has the potential to consume float and delay the project.  It also has full knowledge of who is responsible for the work item correction so notifications and progress reports could include items in their workflow.

Safety Audit –   Safety is always the first priority of construction operations in the field.  The moral and financial risk of failure is enormous and is where mitigation of the risk is a fundamental duty of the general contractor.  This is one area where CEM could have a substantial impact on the integrity and performance of the general contractor.  Having the ability to track safety issues and catalog best practice based on dimensions gives the project teams a powerful early warning system of potential risk and failure.  Model dimensions would correlate safety issues and best practice information with the current work presenting actionable information at the right time in the project life cycle.  Just by scoping a work item CEM would correlate it with a catalog of safety best practice and automatically create start constraints for hazard plans or completion constraints for safety monitoring and audits.  The safety department would know when high risk work is scheduled to be performed across all active projects and would have visibility into the preparations prior to the work start.  Safety alerts based on future schedule work items would be possible

Punch List - Punch List is another type of constraint that identifies non-compliance or corrective issues but unlike the Non-Compliance constraint it would be an acceptance constraint type and would impact the final completion of the work.  As the work is punched the architect would identify one or more issues with a work item and would create a punch constraint for each.  Based on its constraint class workflow would govern the resolution of the constraint.

Billing – Earned revenue based billing would be natively part of the model.  Since all work items will have pre-determined cost and stage, work completed and billable will be automatically derived from the model.  In this scenario the subcontractor, as part of the buyout process, provides the value and units of his work at the work item level of granularity.  As work is installed and accepted payment would be made.  The subcontractor does not have to request payment for work since they have already agreed upon the value at a level consistent with the stage of the work.  Only complete work items get paid - there are not partial payments for work items.  If there is a desire to get paid for part of a work item it is split into two separate work items with payment made to the completed portion.  This will ensure that work items are broken down into the correct level of detail to support the normal periodic expectation of payment when work is completed.

If the project requires a more traditional billing, a schedule of values would be derived from the appropriate work item dimension level that represents the desired level of detail.  The subcontractor would also have a schedule of values derived from work item dimensions at a level of detail to support the owner’s schedule of values.  When the sub bills his schedule, the owner billing schedule percent completes would be derived from the aggregate percent complete of sub requests for payment.  The model provides the framework to manage the relationship between the owner schedule of values and the subcontractors.

BIM Management – Building information models would utilize dimensions to segment the model into discrete objects.  Tying the objects to dimensions and or work items would allow the model object to inherit stage, float and cost so accurate 5 dimension (3D + Time + Cost) models could be easily generated.

 Unified Workflow Example | Corporate Experience | Implementation | Scoping