Projects & Engineering – Maximizing Design Engineering Efficiencies Through Organized Work Management Principles

 In Engineering, Projects, Work Management

Case for Change

The Field Services organization (Capital Construction & Maintenance) underwent a change effort to improve Planning, Scheduling and Execution of their work management process. A chief barrier to their success was the quality and consistency of the design packages received from Engineering as the primary input to their work. Therefore, in effort to increase efficiency, consistency and effectiveness of Engineering and Design resources, we worked to align the departmental work flow using industry best practices in planning and scheduling design work, minimizing disruptions from unplanned work, and improving schedule compliance.

Maximo implementation was also on the horizon, so it was decided to design a best practice work management process that Maximo would be designed to support, versus fitting a process to fit Maximo.

Team Makeup

A cross-functional team was made of the key areas involved in the process, Engineering, Project Management and a supporting role by a Field Services rep, the final customer of the design outputs. These individuals were dedicated to the design effort for a total of 7 weeks, and others dealt with their every-day work load so they could focus completely on the design effort. Including a FS rep proved to be a valuable addition, and kept the team on a results-focused process. Many existing inconsistencies we highlighted throughout the process by this key individual.

Process Used

We discussed the emotional cycle of change with our group, and prepared them for the different phases they and others would be going through as a result of this endeavor. We highlighted that different parts of the organization would be hitting phases of the cycle at different times, based on the timing. Their understanding of this allowed them to prepare for any concerns brought up by their peers.

We based our design effort around the 7 best practices of work management:

  • Work Identification
  • Prioritization
  • Workload Management
  • Planning & Scheduling
  • Design Work Execution
  • Barrier Identification & Elimination
  • Key Process Indicators (Measures)

We used a draft of the work flow from Field Services as a launching platform, and developed a work flow appropriate for Engineering Design. For each task, we identified those involved through a RACI format and included a detailed narrative of each task.

For meetings, we included agendas with the key topics, meeting frequency, primary invitees and required pre and post activities.

Each team member would discuss concepts and proposed changes with their group to get feedback and “soften the beaches” for the implementation.

Each day started with a defined agenda, concluded with Benefits & Concerns. Action logs were used daily to keep track of all assignments.

A Maximo design lead/SME was shown the future state design and found it would fit into the Maximo implementation quite nicely, eliminating the need for multiple tools to manage the overall process (once Maximo was installed).


  • Best Practice Work Process Map with Supporting Documents
    • Priority Decision Tree and defined criteria (P1/P2/P3)
    • RACI
    • Task Narratives
  • Future State Awareness & Communication – White paper Fair
  • Training Plan
  • Implementation Plan
  • Barrier Escalation Process
  • Key Process Indicators (KPIs)

White Paper Fair

The resulting future state design was presented to the affected organizations by the Design Team of client employees, not by the consultants. This was purposefully done to increase ownership by the organization. It was done by them, not to them. Team members practiced running through the work flow and describing it in detail multiple times a day for 4 weeks, to ensure they had a solid understanding and that they had worked out all the potential kinks.

Questions posed at the White Paper Fair were captured on stickie notes and attached to the appropriate position on the work flow map. These were then analyzed to see what common questions each group had, and allowed us to prepare detailed tasks for our implementation plan.

The work process was reviewed and approved by a steering team made up of 2 directors and a VP.


  • IFCs issued according to forecasted date
  • Better understanding of design effort/resources required
  • Every job has a defined priority
  • Tracking of all jobs
  • Quality intake information (i.e., upstream inputs)
  • Less break in work
  • Accountability to the task
  • Published, accurate, schedule
  • No overloading of resources
  • Root cause analysis
  • Relative prioritization between stakeholders
  • Predictable workload
  • KPIs – process performance tracked
  • Improved visibility of schedule
  • Concrete evidence for added or reduced resource justification
  • Consistent process deliverables to Field Services
  • Linking processes between Engineering and Field Services
  • More time for Supervising Engineer to assist their team
  • Optimal design resource utilization
  • Formalized method for escalating barriers
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities
  • Defined priority response time (eliminating political and emotional decision making)
  • More collaboration on barrier resolution
  • “Buy-in” from upper management
  • More time spent on planning and scheduling yielding a less reactive and more efficient workforce
  • Improved quality of design deliverables, reduced re-work
  • Reducing the number of barriers over time
  • Increasing throughput (PLC cycle-time compression)
  • Common tools and practices between design groups
  • Reduced construction effort/cost
  • Reduced cost to the customer
  • Higher employee morale

If you are a vice president, director, or site manager in Capital Project Management, Engineering, Operations, Maintenance, Turnarounds, or Supply Chain who is experiencing unplanned work break-ins, or production disruptions, growing work backlogs, cost overruns, capital project delays, poor design quality work packages, slow production changeovers, increasing contractor headcount, or employee frustration because of an inability to execute the work as planned, then contact us. We welcome the opportunity to learn more about your organization, and provide you with the proven tools and capabilities to ensure your organization runs efficiently.

We are always looking to expand our professional relationships, so please feel free to contact our team anytime through the website, or by phone at 612.868.3000.

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