Document collaboration with contractors, suppliers and owner/operators

Online collaboration is the key accelerator in Capital Projects. It must be used in a clever way otherwise there is a big risk in missing the benefits and ending up in chaos. Engineering Document Management (EDM) systems enables contractors and suppliers to deliver documents online and owner/operators to reply rapidly and efficiently with comments. Online collaboration reduces the number of iterations by improving the quality of document delivery before entering the approval process. 

There can be a large number of vendors, suppliers and contractors contributing to a capital project executed by an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) firm, or the owner/operator themselves. Contracts between these parties define who shall deliver which document to a work package at a particular date.

In my last two blogs in this series on EDM for capital projects I discussed the importance of tracking the review and approval of documents in work packages according to the schedule of the work breakdown structure.  This blog covers how the delivery and review of documents from suppliers and contractors to customers can be effectively managed.

A capital project is a fragmented network of specialized suppliers and contractors who contribute to the design and build of a facility, plant, or infrastructure for an owner/operator. A reasonable part of this contribution consists of the delivery of models, drawings, and documents.

Document control in Capital Projects

EDM systems in the cloud act as document exchange platforms for any contributor and any relevant work package of a capital project. On the cloud platform, the work packages are represented by workspaces that act as logical containers in the EDM system where a defined team can engage to share and work on documents to be delivered as part of that work package.

The Workspace Concept overview

Engineering work packages of a capital project are (contractually) agreed subsets of the total amount of work to be delivered. Depending on the type of project, industry or discipline, a work package can consist of a discipline or just a component that may come from a single vendor, contractor, or supplier. The customer work package is the equivalent deliverable for the EPC to their customer.

EDM – workspace concept

I recommend creating one project workspace for each work package that has the same responsible engineer/contractor, reviewer, and approver group because the responsibilities of submitting the documents, delivering, reviewing and approving are automatically determined by the assignments of users to the project roles.

Work package workspaces shared with suppliers or contractors

In cloud based EDM systems the ‘package responsible engineer’ can grant limited access to the supplier for uploading new documents and maintain the metadata of those documents.

Upon submission the documents are visible for the package responsible engineer for viewing and for making comments, markups and annotations which may lead to a clarification process with the supplier and eventually the delivery of a new version of that document revision.

Once the package responsible engineer is happy with the delivered documents, they can pass the package of documents on for review and approval. (Next blog coming soon on Review & Approval State Flows in Capital Projects). As a result, package workspaces allow agile collaboration on documents in a draft state between suppliers/contractors and the package responsible engineer.

Master Document Workspace

Once a new document or a new revision of a document is approved/rejected it will be signed into the Master Document Repository which represents a central document repository for all controlled documents in a capital project across all work packages. The Master Document Repository always keeps the most recent, approved/rejected revision of controlled documents and keeps track of which team, contractor, discipline, or work package is currently working on a new revision. It also controls the document revisions which were sent to the customer.

Work package workspaces shared with customer representatives

Supplier documents to customer

The EPC is obliged to deliver documents to their customers according to the contracts between the EPC and the customer. The approval of those documents by the customer indicates the completion of successful delivery of a work package. That is why the EPC requests approval from the customer for internally approved revisions of documents to be delivered. The customer has the option to approve, approve with comments, reject, or acknowledge (in case of ‘sent for information’). The number of documents to be sent to the customer for approval/information may come from multiple suppliers but is a subset of the total number of documents residing in the Master Document Repository. To facilitate the understanding of the customer role in work package workspaces, see the light red right-hand side of the workspace concept (image above).

Fully controlled document delivery processes

An EDM system offers a comprehensive and easy to use online platform for suppliers and contractors to submit the requested documents and allows the package responsible engineer of the EPC to check the documents. The responsible engineer collaborates on the stack of documents with the supplier until it is ready to be processed further into the review and approval process. Document Controllers of the EPC can control at any time if the supplier is on schedule with the delivery of the requested documents. It is of utmost importance for the project team to eventually deliver those documents to the customer on time and quality which are agreed upon in the contracts with the customer. EDM systems manage the whole document delivery and review chain from suppliers via EPC to customer.

OpenText™ Professional Services have years of experience in Engineering Document Management in Capital Projects, please contact us if you would like to speak to an expert with regards to your project.

Author: Jens Friehmelt is a Senior Manager in OpenText Professional Services EMEA leading an international team that combines multiple OpenText technologies to serve customers with best-practice solutions for Engineering, Construction, and Maintenance processes.

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