Our SYSTEM OVERVIEW document describes the functionality of each module. Here we concentrate on describing what the system does in every day language.
The essence of digiProjects is its ability to integrate all the transactional and logistical activities, and their associated costs, in a complex engineering project, so that engineers and managers can be sure that all the individual items are engineered, procured, delivered, fabricated and erected on site to the correct schedule, specification and cost.
Engineering companies often comprise “islands of endeavour” for each speciality where information is captured to meet internal needs, shared sparingly, and passionately defended when found to differ from the information painstakingly gathered by another speciality. digiProjects is based on a single integrated, consistent and accurate database, accessible to all authorised users. This eliminates duplicate information, confusion and waste.
The initial reaction may be “this is just another package using the PERT technique and we use MS Project (or some other similar product).” digiProjects is definitely not another PERT technique. In the literature on project management there are frequently statements that PERT techniques are very good at managing networks of up to 200-300 discrete activities. Above this limit the effort in keeping the network up-to-date rapidly exceeds the available hours between the changes taking place in the “real world”, resulting in the network becoming an increasingly out-of-date academic exercise. A small engineering project can easily exceed 1000 PERT activities, even when confined to level 1 or 2 activities. A well run project will require both PERT techniques and digiProjects – they are complementary.
digiProjects is designed from the bottom up to deal with engineering complexity. A typical engineering project can consist of many thousands of drawings, which are continually subject to change (I have often seen construction drawings with a revision levels in the teen’s). Each of these drawings may have a unique bill of materials, which can change at each revision. All the items on the bill must be in place before fabrication and / or erection can commence. Any delay in the delivery of the smallest of components can result in a delay to the whole project.
For example, most people think that bolts are insignificant and can be bought any place, any time. Try explaining that to a construction foreman 500 km from the nearest rail head! Try buying a high tensile special alloy steel bolt from your local hardware store! I have seen the completion date of a whole new plant delayed for 3 months because a specially fabricated stainless steel pressure reducing valve was installed in the wrong place, at the wrong time (immediately prior to a water pressure test on the pipeline). A loose bolt was flushed through the pipe and into the valve, breaking the exquisitely machined faces to the extent that the valve would not close, thereby leaking steam and losing pressure all the time, causing a serious plant malfunction. There was no spare for the valve, and the fabrication and delivery lead time was 3 months.
digiProjects has been used on projects where there were more than 100 000 construction drawings, each with its own bill of materials.
digiProjects has been used simultaneously on multiple large projects, with substantially different project imperatives. In one instance one project was running resource based costing, where man-hours are attributed to the project at the average cost per resource. For example, all senior engineers (a resource) were charged to the project at US$xx per hour. Simultaneously, on another project each employee (with different rules for contractors, and different rates and currencies for each engineering office) was charged to the project at their own salary rate, plus overhead and profit. The engineering staff on this project alone exceeded 300, spread over 3 countries.
digiProjects has been used on projects where the first phase was a research project into new refining technology. Each subsequent project phase was a chemical process in the refinery, engineered from concept, through to final erection and commissioning. In this situation the digiProjects costing and change control modules were able to accurately record every single change (cost, man-hours and material) between the original research budget, and the final cost at completion. This project extended over four years.