Transition Management between Construction Completion, Pre-Commissioning, Commissioning, and Startup

RT-333 Topic Summary
RT 333


The transfer of new assets from construction to commissioning, and then on to the owner/operator, can cause confusion and create significant controversy. Today, transfer practices vary considerably across the industry. The practices and methods for defining mechanical completion and identifying responsibilities and accountabilities are typically not well defined, and disputes arise over the readiness of assets for transfer to commissioning and owner groups. Confusion is particularly common with respect to the roles and responsibilities for testing and verification of installation and functional performance. This confusion often generates disputes and ultimately delays turnover to the owner.

Traditional approaches to construction do not always align with the commissioning teams’ need for the prescribed sequences of systems-based turnover. Construction often offers incomplete or out-of-sequence systems at commissioning, which can cause delay and detrimentally affect on production and/or return on investment. Several prior studies also indicated that commissioning failures are too common in frequency and extremely costly in impact. The business case for action is clear, yet the transitions between construction/pre-commissioning/commissioning/startup/closeout (abbreviated as CCSU to emphasize the construction component) remain challenging for many reasons, but especially due to contractual separations and the multitude of organizational interfaces and hand-offs.

Achieving project and commissioning success requires a solid understanding of the CCSU activities to be undertaken and the associated responsibility assignments. The RT-333 research answers the essential question originally provided to it by CII: “How can the industry establish or clarify the accountabilities and responsibilities among construction completion, pre-commissioning, commissioning, and operations functions?”

Collectively, the findings from this study provide focused and substantive guidance on how project teams can enhance the effectiveness of CCSU transitions.

Related Academic Publications (not published by CII)
CII does not review or endorse these publications, which were published independently, but added them here because they were directly or indirectly supported by the CII research project. Users may need to pay to access these pieces.

Mock, B. and O’Connor, J. (2021), "Taxonomic categories for commissioning and startup hot spot strategies," Construction Innovation (in press).

O’Connor, J. T. and Mock, B. (2020), “Responsibilities and accountabilities for industrial facility commissioning and startup activities,” Construction Innovation 20(4) 625-645.

Mock, B. and O’Connor, J. T. (2019), “High-value, low-effort industrial plant commissioning solution strategies,” Construction Innovation (19)4, 653-671.

Mock, B. D., and O'Connor, J. T. (2019). “Owner and contractor solution strategies for industrial commissioning.” Construction Innovation (19)2, 256-279.

O'Connor, J. T., and Mock, B. D. (2019). “Construction, Commissioning, and Startup Execution: Problematic Activities on Capital Projects.” Journal of Construction Engineering and Management (145)4.


Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : CCSU System Phases and Milestones

The graphic below depicts the CCSU project phases, milestones, and handover/transition events.

Reference: (SP333-1)

2 : CCSU Implementation Process

In response to the challenges of CCSU, RT-333 developed a 17-step implementation process that integrates the key findings from three CII research teams that addressed commissioning: RT-121, Planning for Startup; RT-312, Best Practices for Commissioning; and RT-333 itself.

Reference: (SP333-1)

3 : CCSU Activities Flowchart

RT-333 developed a flowchart of 124 CCSU activities, organized by project phase and four thematic categories. Twenty CCSU “hot spots” (highlighted in yellow) surfaced from research-based screening efforts. The team documented the Heidelberg Spar case study to demonstrate the substantial value that can result from timely and effective mitigation efforts for targeted CCSU hot spots.