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Risk-Focused Design Review

Confidential Client

Published: 8th December 2014

A major Client is undertaking a significant investment programme in a new manufacturing and supporting plant and DBD was initially asked to act as an independent expert on design reviews of major projects initiated and led by the Head of Major Projects. In the course of these reviews, a range of issues were identified. The fundamental problem was that despite seemingly robust QA systems supported by audits and decision gate processes, significant design and/or project delivery issues continued to arise and impact on project performance

DBD was subsequently requested to develop a review process which focused on establishing whether the quality of design and the levels of uncertainty and risk on a project were in line with the asserted level of maturity.

The DBD Risk Focused Design Review (RFDR) process has been developed in-house to address a significant issue which occurs on many major engineering projects. That is despite seemingly robust QA systems supported by audits and decision gate processes latent risks continue to arise and impact on project performance.

DBD Deliverables

DBD produced a Business Case which was used by the client to initiate the project. DBD then produced a report setting out in detail the process proposed and a further report describing in detail the criteria to be used in reviewing projects. The process was designed to fit into the Client’s existing arrangements and organisation structure. The process was then applied by DBD to three projects following which the Client decided to formally implement the process. DBD then wrote the supporting Operating Procedure and Work Instructions, produced a Training Package and undertook the initial training of the Client’s nominated Reviewers.

Key features of the approach are as follows:

  • The Design is examined at specific points with a focus relevant to the stage reached in the design process. Each point is in advance of a particular decision associated with, for example, the start of a new activity and/or step change in resource commitment.
  • At each point evidence is sought to support the asserted maturity of the project. A key issue will be to ensure that the various safety “threads” continue to flow through from APPRAISE and into EXECUTE. Evidence is gained by examination of relevant documentation, discussion with the project team and focused questioning. Reviews are undertaken by personnel experienced in the design and delivery of major projects
  • A consistent set of criteria are used, grouped by focus area, against which the design is reviewed and scored

The Results

Following implementation some 15 Major Project reviews have been undertaken over a period of two years and the process continues to be applied. It is fully embedded in the Client’s Management System. It is not viewed as a process for catching projects out but one which adds value and provides valued assurance to project teams at key points in the progress of design and engineering.

Client Benefits

  • Increased confidence in project decision making
  • Reduced level of recycling of decisions and avoidance of abortive work
  • Some specific issues identified with certain projects leading to corrective actions being taken and in some cases a timely re-think on particular aspects of design