Project Definition Rating Index (PDRI) Overview

The PDRI is a powerful, easy-to-use tool for measuring the degree of scope development.

The Project Definition Rating Index (PDRI) is a powerful, easy-to-use tool that identifies and precisely describes each critical element in a scope definition package. It also enables project teams to identify quickly the project risk factors related to desired outcomes for cost, schedule, and operating performance. By using the PDRI method, teams can capture mitigation action items and evaluate the completeness of scope definition at any point prior to detailed design and construction.

The PDRI is intended for use during front end planning (FEP), the project phase that encompasses activities such as feasibility, concept, and detailed scope definition. (See Figure 1.) Note that “front end planning” has many other equivalent and associated terms, including “front end loading,” “advance planning,” “pre-project planning,” “programming,” “schematic design,” “design development,” and “sanctioning.” Although the term “front end planning” is used in this document, it should be considered synonymous with the analogous term that is more familiar within the user’s business process. (More detailed information on timing and process is provided below.) Although the original PDRI was envisioned as a decision-support metric for funding detailed design and project execution at Phase Gate 3, experience has shown that, depending on project size and complexity, PDRI should be used more than once prior to arriving at this gate.

Figure 1. Diagram of Project Phases

Which PDRI is best for this project?

Table 1 lists practical applications for each version of the PDRI, so users can decide which versions apply best to their particular projects. For further clarification, Table 2 summarizes the main characteristics of infrastructure, building, and industrial projects. Together, these tables can guide the selection of the most appropriate PDRI for any project under consideration.

Table 1. Applicable Project Types for Each PDRI

Building Projects (IR155-2)
  • Airport terminals
  • Apartments
  • Banks
  • Churches
  • Dormitories
  • Government facilities
  • Hotels and motels
  • Industrial control buildings
  • Institutional buildings
  • Light assembly and manufacturing
  • Medical facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Offices
  • Parking structures
  • Public assembly and performance halls
  • Recreational and athletic facilities
  • Research and laboratory facilities
  • Schools (classrooms)
  • Stores and shopping centers
  • Toll booths
  • Warehouses
Industrial Projects (IR113-2, IR314-2)
  • Chemical plants
  • Food processing plants
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Oil and gas production facilities
  • Paper mills
  • Pharmaceutical plants
  • Plant upgrade/retrofit
  • Power plants
  • Refineries
  • Steam heat/chilled water plants
  • Steel and aluminum mills
  • Textile mills
  • Water/wastewater treatment
Infrastructure Projects (IR268-2, IR314a-2)
  • Access ramps
  • Airport runways
  • Aqueducts
  • Canals
  • Electrical substations and switch gears
  • Electricity transmission and distribution
  • Fiber optic networks
  • Highways
  • Levees
  • Locks and weirs
  • Meters and regulator stations
  • Pig launchers and receivers
  • Pipelines
  • Pumping and compressor stations
  • Railroads
  • Reservoirs
  • Security fencing
  • Towers
  • Tunnels
  • Water control structures
  • Wide area networks

 

Table 2. Project Sector Characteristics that Inform Selection of a PDRI Tool

Project Sector Characteristics
Characteristics Building Industrial Infrastructure
Primary Designer Architect Chemical, mechanical, or industrial engineer Civil engineer
Project Orientation Vertical Vertical Horizontal
System Node Node Vector
Utilization Functional use Transformation Conveyance
Operational Nodal terminations Consumptions and production Flow dynamics, networked into a grid
Interface with Public Moderate Minimal Extensive
Environmental Impact Moderate Extensive Extensive
Primary Cost Building, building system Piping, mechanical, equipment Earthwork, materials, associated structures
Installed Equipment Cost Moderate Extensive Minimal
Land Cost Low to high Low to moderate Moderate to high
Jurisdictional Interface Moderate Moderate Extensive
 

With a hybrid of industrial and building types, which PDRI score sheet should be used?

In general, if the primary designers for the project are architects, then the PDRI for Buildings should be used. If the primary designers are process (chemical) engineers or industrial (mechanical) engineers, then the PDRI for Industrial Projects should be used. Alternatively, the team can look at the composition of the project in terms of work (design or construction expenditures) to make the decision. In some circumstances, the team may decide to use both in concert.

Many industrial facilities (chemical plants or refineries) require various types of buildings to support the operations and maintenance effort, such as the following:

  • administration buildings
  • warehouses
  • control buildings
  • maintenance facilities
  • laboratories
  • security facilities
  • training centers

In these cases, the Industrial PDRI should be used on the primary facility, but the team may want to use the Building PDRI on each type of building. Use the score sheet as a checklist if an entire assessment is not desirable.

Another example would be that of a building used for research or office space. Some of the space in the facility may be designated for production, including engineered equipment, process flows, and dedicated utility requirements. The Building PDRI would be used to plan the major portion of the facility, but the Industrial PDRI could be used to help plan the production space. At a minimum, the Industrial PDRI could be used as a checklist in this situation.
 

What about small projects?

Projects with substantial scope, complexity, schedule duration, and cost are typically considered “large,” while projects with lower costs and smaller scope are categorized as “small.” Organizations expend considerable effort to ensure success on large projects, since the level of expenditure makes them high-profile. Organizations often view small projects as having low risk and, thus, as not warranting a structured planning approach, so the organizations may place minimal emphasis on detailed FEP. Moreover, organizations often use small projects as training grounds for younger or inexperienced project managers and engineers, to prepare them for future work on larger projects. In reality, it is shortsighted to assume that a small project inherently carries lower risk or is less critical to an organization. Indeed, poorly planned small projects can have a major cumulative impact on an organization’s bottom line. In response to this overlooked potential improvement, CII chartered several research teams to develop PDRIs for small projects to address these highly important and prevalent project types.
 

PDRI for Small Building Projects

CII has not commissioned a research team to develop a PDRI for Small Building Projects.
 

PDRI for Small Industrial Projects

RT-314 defined small industrial projects as those generally with less than $10 million (U.S. dollars) in expenditures, three to six months in construction duration, and less overall complexity than large projects based on several indicators; these projects annually comprise more than 70 percent of all completed projects by number in most organizations’ portfolios. The speed and concurrent phasing of small projects make it more difficult to provide guidance on the best time to conduct a PDRI review. On many small projects, the entire project may be charged against a funding budget, hence users will want to perform an initial assessment to “get on track.” In other situations, there may be a funding point after the initial decision to proceed with the development, and the optimal time to use the tool may be just prior to that second funding decision. Figure 1.2 shows that a small project may be phased such that feasibility, concept, detailed scope, design, procurement, and construction all overlap. Engaging in so much concurrent activity may not be the optimal way to proceed with a project, but it may reflect the reality of typical small industrial projects.
 

PDRI for Small Infrastructure Projects

RT-314a defined small infrastructure projects as those generally with less than $20 million (in U.S. dollars) in expenditures, six to 12 months in construction duration, and less overall complexity than large projects based on several indicators; these projects annually comprise approximately 50 percent of all completed projects by number in most organizations’ portfolios. In some cases, the speed and concurrent phasing of small projects make it more difficult to provide guidance on the best time to conduct a PDRI review. On some small projects, the entire project may be charged against a funding budget; hence, users will want to perform an initial assessment to “get on track.” In other situations, funding may be awarded after the initial decision to proceed with development, and the optimal time to use the tool may be just prior to that second funding decision.

What about renovation and revamp (“R&R”) projects?

Every version of the PDRI includes specific risk factors relating to new construction (greenfield) projects and renovation and revamp (R&R) projects. An R&R project is defined as one that is focused on existing infrastructure facilities but does not involve routine maintenance activities. It includes the act, process, or work of replacing, restoring, repairing, or improving the infrastructure with capital funds or non-capital funds. It also may include the construction of additional structures and systems to achieve a more functional, serviceable, or desirable condition. These modifications address such considerations as profitability, reliability, efficiency, safety, security, environmental performance, or compliance with regulatory requirements. An R&R project may be known by numerous other names, such as repair, upgrade, modernization, or restoration, among others. (For more information on how to manage the FEP of R&R projects, see IR242-2, Front End Planning of Renovation and Revamp Projects.)