Optimizing the Value of Construction in Front End Planning

RT-241 Topic Summary
RT 241


Front end planning (FEP) is the process of developing sufficient information for stakeholders to address risk and to commit resources to maximize the probability of success. When sound construction input is not sought during FEP, the projects fall short of their goals. This is mainly due to misalignment among the primary stakeholders (i.e., owners, designers, and constructors) and operating in their own domain. RT-241 was established to investigate the problem and determine ways in which construction input can be optimized during the front end stage of projects. RT-241 had five objectives for the research:

  1. Develop a metric for measuring the level of construction expertise needed during FEP.
  2. Identify and prioritize practices that optimize the involvement of construction resources.
  3. Identify barriers/trade-offs (such as contract procurement issues) to integrating construction resources in FEP.
  4. Develop a user-friendly decision tool to assist project teams in focusing on key construction items and activities during FEP.
  5. Validate the decision tool.

The emphasis of this research, however, is to provide guidance on the timing and nature of the construction input to be provided in the FEP process, which is materially different from constructability. The research team has developed an Excel®-based decision aid, Construction Input Assessment Tool (CIAT). CIAT provides project stakeholders with a means of determining project items and activities that require construction input during front end planning. It also will assist in evaluating if adequate construction expertise is available or if outside sources are needed. 

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Constructability & Front End Planning

Constructability, one of the best practices of CII, has been defined as "the optimum use of construction knowledge and experience in planning, design, procurement, and field operations to achieve overall project objectives."

The benefits of constructability will be obtained through the effective and timely integration of construction input into the planning and design stages. Therefore, construction expertise that require for the entire life-cycle of projects should be involved in the Front End Planning stage to lead to project success. (RR241-11, p. 26)

Reference: (RR241-11)

2 : Utilization of FEP by CII Member Companies

The research identified a strong link between early application of construction resources and the impact on project success. Respondents to a survey agreed that construction expertise during FEP resulted in decreased overall project cost, decreased overall schedule, and increased overall safety awareness.(RR241-11, pp. 31, 42)
Reference: (RR221-11)

3 : Elements of PDRI (Project Definition Rating Index) Related to Construction

The research identified that the PDRI elements most likely to benefit from early construction expertise were 42 of the 64 Building PDRI elements and 38 of the 70 Industrial PDRI elements. (RS241-1, p. 8)
Reference: (RS241-1)

4 : Benefits of Constructability

The benefits from using construction in the FEP process included the following:

  • Early identification of real problems likely during the project (e.g., material/labor availability, site constraints, and modularization-type decisions)
  • More accurate project perspective for owners
  • Early decision making
  • Early constructability input
  • Collaboration between designers and constructors (e.g., utilizing Building Information Modeling, web-based project management, and real-time decision making)
  • Reduced cost and schedule with less work-hours and fewer changes
  • Lessons learned from previous projects

(RS241-1, p. 7)

Reference: (RS241-1)

5 : Optimal Level of Construction Input for Successful Projects

This research included determining the level of construction input required during Front End Planning. A metric was developed that indicates an optimal level of construction input for a successful project was 70% for both Industrial and Building projects.

Reference: (RR241-11)

6 : Barriers to Constructability Input

RT-241 research revealed that there remain three barriers to the involvement of construction input during the FEP process: (RR241-11, p. 89)

  1. Project Organization
  2. Contract Models
  3. Decision Aids

Primary stakeholders in a construction project, owner, designer, and constructor, work in separate domains based on their particular expertise. As the team member who has the best information about the project objectives, the owner becomes the party tasked with assembling the project team.

Traditional contract models for addressing design and construction processes reinforce the compartmentalization of owner, designer, and constructor.

Tools to aid the owner in making early stage decisions are not readily available. Often owner must rely on in-house resources that may not have in-depth knowledge of activities required to achieve the owner’s objectives. 

Reference: (RR241-11)

7 : Construction Input Assessment Tool (CIAT)

RT-241 research revealed the need for a decision tool that allows project managers to prioritize activities that require and benefit from construction input. The framework of CIAT is derived from the Project Definition Rating Index (PDRI). Refer to Implementation Tools below for more information on CIAT. (IR241-2, p. 1)
Reference: (IR241-2)

8 : Implementation Tool #1

IR241-2: Instruction for Using the Construction Input Assessment Tool, for Industrial and Building Project

The CIAT is a decision-aid tool for assessing the level of construction input during FEP. It defines the resources and information that required construction input during FEP for the preparation and execution of a project. The success levels of construction input are all 70.0 for both building and industrial projects. 

Reference: (IR241-2)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved cost, Improved schedule, Improved quality (reduced errors & omissions), Improved performance/achieved success, Reduced change, Improved operations & maintainability, Reduced/improved risk, Improved craft productivity, Improved design, Improved safety

Research Publications

Construction Input Assessment Tool for Industrial and Building Projects, Version 4.0 - IR241-2

Publication Date: 04/2014 Type: Implementation Resource Pages: 10 Status: Tool

Optimizing Construction Input in Front End Planning - RR241-11

Publication Date: 03/2009 Type: Research Report Pages: 143 Status: Reference

Optimizing Construction Input in Front End Planning - RS241-1

Publication Date: 07/2008 Type: Research Summary Pages: 21 Status: Supporting Product

Supporting Resources

Education Materials

Construction Input Assessment in Front End Planning - Instructor's Guide - EM241-21

Publication Date: 06/2010 Type: Education Module Pages: 0 Status: Supporting Product

Construction Input Assessment in Front End Planning - Participant Handbook - EM241-21A

Publication Date: 06/2010 Type: Education Module Pages: 0 Status: Supporting Product

Presentations from CII Events

Plenary Session - Success Is in the Handoff

Publication Date: 06/2008 Presenter: Number of Slides: 18 Event Code: AC08