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When asking contractors about the keys to completing even the most challenging projects, a common theme often emerges: Excellent communication among all parties is essential. To facilitate the communication process, many contractors use a project execution plan (PEP), which is a detailed document for all stakeholders communicating project objectives and how the objectives will be accomplished.

While PEPs often include similar elements, they are by no means one-size-fits-all documents. All projects share some fundamental attributes: an emphasis on safety, quality, cost and schedule. But differences in scope, scale, complexity, resources and other factors must be specifically dealt with during project development or other alignment phases. Every project is unique, and each PEP must be specifically tailored to meet the size and phases of that project.

Project Map

The PEP communicates and documents the project “map,” as well as the overall strategic approach for the entire project’s execution over a defined period of time. It also sets the tone for demonstrating effective leadership, project organization, progress measurement and teamwork. A good PEP provides guidance over every applicable element of a project. Such attention to detail is particularly important for heavy industrial projects, where safety, quality, schedule and cost are paramount.

The PEP is typically completed during the early phase of the project (concept, BOD or preconstruction), once all key project team members are in place. Preconstruction is critical for the successful delivery of capital projects. These early phases of a project provide owners with a formal approach for developing and executing capital projects. In addition, they help define the project scope, schedule and cost as soon as possible to enable the most efficient use of resources and money, while reducing risks (see figure 1).

To achieve the necessary level of accuracy, project execution planning must be performed in conjunction with the project’s capital planning. A precise PEP can only be established by tying budget items, line-by-line, to construction tasks.

[caption id="attachment_7485" align="alignnone" width="620"]pep-graphic Figure 1[/caption]

Key Elements of a PEP

A PEP incorporates several sub-plans, such as a project procurement (or supply management) plan, project risk identification and mitigation plan, project staffing plan, construction execution plan, cost/budget management plan, project controls plan, project quality plan and overall team alignment.

Key elements of a PEP include:

  • mission statement;
  • scope;
  • risk identification and mitigation;
  • project controls;
  • resource planning;
  • project execution approach;
  • design plan;
  • procurement strategy;
  • construction plan;
  • safety plan;
  • quality plan; and
  • commissioning and validation plan.
The fundamental aspects of all PEPs are the same. However, as a project increases in scope and cost, the PEP needs to become more detailed. Large-scale, engineering-intensive projects that use an engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) workflow require extensive PEPs. It is important for everyone involved to know the key elements that need to be covered in an EPCM PEP.

A PEP should be tailored to meet the size, scope and execution approach agreed on for a project. For instance, a PEP for a $200 million EPCM plan should be more detailed and extensive than one for a $1 million design-only project. The key components of the plan should be the same, but the level of detail is different.

PEP for Every Project

Every project should have some form of PEP or alignment document that encompasses the project’s scope, organization and sets the cadence at project kickoff. An individualized PEP helps ensure proper communication of a project’s goals and objectives, and ensures implementation is maintained.

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