This page updated June, 2003

Introduction | A Generic 3rd Level Model | The Whole Project and Nothing but
Including Management by Projects | A Game of Two Halves | The Next Generation

A Generic Third Level Model

In searching for a more detailed generic project lifecycle one important fact must be borne in mind – that the model should be simple and generic. This may sound obvious, but the implications are enormous. The generic model is inclusive of all projects, with the exception of the most basic, irrespective of their industry sector. Equally, because it is simple, most commercial or large-scale projects will be more complex. Thus, projects will follow the model in detail and in principle, whilst each will have its own more complex lifecycle that should be agreed at the outset. But where can we find a model to start from?

The Chemical Process (CP) industry has a lifecycle model with seven phases; Scoping, Approval, Design, Procurement, Construction, Commissioning and Start-up.[5] Many people from other industry sectors will no doubt find some similarities to the way the CP industry conduct projects. However, the pharmaceutical sector uses an expanded version of this model that can be seen to split each of the C-D-E-F phases into a further two phases each, something that is not immediately obvious from the CPI model.

Conceive — Discovery and Requirement
Define — Functionality and Design
Execute — Construct and Check
Finish — Review and Audit

At this stage it is best if these terms are defined by an example taken from a typical CP industry type project. The definitions are based on the theory of how the pharmaceutical sector works rather than any definitive practice. In addition, an indication of the typical stage-gates associated with each phase is given.

Discovery is often perceived as outside of the project, but is the point when the business finds there is a market for product 'A'. Program Management might even be said to include a phase prior to this that proactively identifies the need for 'A', and this does exist outside the project. This phase is brief, there are few decisions to be made and the stage-gate for this phase is usually the marketing department's gut feel. This phase is typically owned by the sales and marketing department and in quality function deployment terms is the "Voice of the Customer".

Requirement is when the business can write a User Requirement Specification (URS), which states: "We need X tonnes per year of 'A' at a cost of $Y/kg". The stage-gates here may include an assessment of the technical feasibility of manufacturing A, the current market prices and potential profit margins. In the pharmaceutical industry, and others, there is an R&D project to identify the means of manufacture of 'A', which has a lifecycle of its own. This phase is owned by the "business" as the senior representation of the operations/production department.

Functionality results in the Functional Specification (FS) that gives the means/route of manufacture of A and stipulates any limitations this imposes, perhaps including preliminary equipment selection. The stage-gates at this phase are usually very similar to those for final approval of the project budget. This phase is the best for value management and "optioneering", but is often "fast tracked" and any potential saving locked out of the project. This phase is often called "preliminary design/engineering" and may involve significant expenditure on major projects. This phase is owned by the R&D department and is the first point that the "Voice of the Engineer" is heard.

Design is the preparation of documentation of sufficient detail to allow the suitable equipment for the manufacture of A to be purchased and built. The stage-gate for the phase is full corporate approval of the final project budget. This phase is the remit of the Design/Engineering department and where the "Voice of the Engineer" is at its loudest.

Construct is the purchase and installation of the required items. It is notable that in the CP industry model, procurement and construction are considered separate phases. This is probably an historic anomaly based on functional departments. The purchase and installation of all the items on the project's shopping list is the stage-gate for this phase. It is especially important to note that if the project has been divided into work packages then each work package can exit the construct stage-gate individually. It is the division of the project into these work packages that has the potential to add more phases to a particular project's lifecycle. Also, each work package may be a project for a subcontractor, which enters the Discovery phase for the subcontractor during the main project's Design phase, but reaches its Technical Completion (see later for an explanation of this term) by the end of main project's Construct phase. This phase falls under the auspices of the Project/Construction – clearly a misnomer for the Projects department, as this lifecycle indicates.

Check is called Installation Qualification (IQ) by the pharmaceutical industry and involves ensuring (verifying) that what is installed is what was intended to be installed as set out in the design documents. Also, that installation was done according to those design documents. If all items are installed correctly then this phase's stage-gate is satisfied. This phase does presume that the design is correct and is not intended as a corrective process. This verification (meeting internal performance targets – arising from the design) is a fundamental cornerstone of the ISO9000:2000 standard and applies to both the Check and Review phases. Similar to the Construct phase, separate Work Packages can exit the stage-gate independently. Here the Design department is often responsible again.

Review is referred to as Operational Qualification (OQ) and involves testing sub-systems, usually with a test material to ensure that the intention of the FS is met. This phase tests collections of equipment (systems) to the design intent rather than individual items, as well as the interaction of associated systems. For example, can a heating system heat the vessel contents in a set time? The number of interim stage-gates is dependent on the number of levels in the WBS, if it has been formed on a systems basis. Here the R&D should retake responsibility, even if they do not carry out the activities.

Audit is called Process Qualification (PQ) and Process Validation (PV), which is complete when the project's product can meet the stipulations of the URS. The project team decides when Audit is complete and this is ultimately a function of customer satisfaction. When the customer is satisfied to the mutually agreed standard the project is complete. ISO 9000:2000 defines this as validation, where tests are applied to see if the customer's wants are addressed in the "real world". Typically there are two customers to keep happy, one is the direct user of the asset the project constructs and the other the consumer of the asset's functionality or product. At this point the Operations department will receive the project at the end of the phase without the exceptional technical support allocated by the "business".

These phases described here are the minimum a project lifecycle should include. As alluded to above, complex projects will need to sub-divide these phases in line with the principles discussed below. This is difficult and the only guidance available is that Design will have more sub-phases than Functionality which will have more than Requirement which will have more than Discovery. The same is true, but in reverse for Construct, Check, Review and Audit and the basis of this is explained below.

Introduction  Introduction

The Whole Project and Nothing but  The Whole Project and Nothing but


5. Jeffery, S., P.E. Harding, "A Crash Course in Project Engineering", pg 118, Chemical Engineering, July 1995

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