With more than 20 years experience in engineering and project management, John has a demonstrated understanding of using a gated process/front end loading to help clients achieve their project goals. He has assisted clients in developing systems, procedures, standards, and measurement tools to ensure projects are completed with their budget and business goals in mind. He currently focuses on food sector clients and has experience delivering large-budget, high-tech turnkey projects.
More than half of Jen’s 20 plus – year career has focused on process and project engineering. He has provided detailed design solutions on a wide range of food/beverage projects as well as for industrial and manufacturing.
By employing a gated process,his projects have resulted in new and unique processes or products going to market.
SSOE Group offers flexibility, security, and career advancement—what you need to thrive. Be part of the fastest growing food process design company in the US.
By: John Marrow and Jens Ebert
In today’s business environment, executives and managers need to maximize every dollar. One way to reduce capital holds and ultimately unnecessary process design expenditures is to rethink contingency budgets – stop inflating them. This may seem virtually impossible and borderline absurd from a business perspective. However, shifting perspective away from the large contingency safety net to addressing precise project planning upfront brings several benefits.
Employing a gated approach during the planning phase assures when it’s time to implement a new process, or reconfigure an old one, the project and its intricacies will be clearly defined. Also, all stakeholders will be closely aligned and countless other design issues addressed reducing the risk of project delays, downtime, or something more severe, like food contamination, later.
Simply, a gated process/front end loading (other names FEE – front end engineering, FEED- front end engineering design and PPP – pre-project planning) affords the team time to think through the elements, scenarios, and the process itself before bringing that process to life. Each phase, stage, or gate (there are typically three of them) focuses on a particular portion of the project in a way that helps to define the scope. The three phases have their own set of stakeholders, issues, and considerations to embrace and resolve. And each must be resolved before moving to the next stage.
It’s a basic idea really, breaking down the process and working with the right individuals, from the plant floor to the executive suite, to ensure overall success. So, why don’t businesses allow for more engineering as part of the bidding process? The misconceptions about using a gated process / front end loading the engineering – is that it costs more, adds time, and involves too many people.
Consider this; your intent is to build a new processing facility. The corresponding RFP issued provides little project definition – there’s virtually zero clarity provided on facility size, equipment needs, production/staffing schedules, or output goals, let alone the company’s business case. The bids (both prime and subcontractor) submitted accommodate –through contingency– for the wide range of needs that may and will result as those questions are answered. In turn, you review and award the work knowing the scope is unclear and add to what’s been estimated to cover additional questions/unknowns…and so the contingency grows. Before work even begins, thousands of additional dollars are tied up in contingency alone.
By applying just a portion of those contingency dollars to the pre-planning process, you shrink the estimate range. Rather than over estimating, you can generate accurate budget numbers that reflect a clear scope. The contingency could be as little as + 10 percent – freeing up capital dollars for other initiatives. That level of definition holds those involved accountable because submitted estimates are based on specific criteria.
Project timelines are also determined once the project is defined through a gated process. In addition, potential risks are flagged and addressed during planning rather than in the implementation phase when delays are costly. And because working through the different phases involves all stakeholders projects are planned with a more holistic perspective. For example, a project specifies a type of equipment that a line worker has had a problem with in the past that has required significant downtime to address. That input would be captured in a gated process. Missing that valuable input could result in a change order or production issues long term. Regardless, both have financial implications and both are avoidable, if the right stakeholders are involved at the right time.
A gated process shouldn’t be viewed as an additional layer of work that adds costs. When the right partner works through the engineering with a systematic approach it means better results for the project, the bottom line, and the business.
As the second ranked and fastest growing food process design firm in the country, SSOE understands the specific market pressures and regulations facing food manufacturers. That industry expertise means our gated process is tailored to the client’s specific needs.
SSOE has seen the results. Last year, we documented overall savings for our clients that equaled our total fee. Using this process as our standard operating procedure, we’ve become the 2nd fastest growing food design firm in the U.S.—ranked 2nd by ENR.
To learn how SSOE’s gated process could impact your project, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call, + 1-419-255-3830. You may also follow our discussion on gated process via Facebook or Twitter.