Process Mapping a Civil Infrastructure Construction company

rogerpenna

Involved In Discussions
#1
So I am trying to map our company processes.

It seems the usual pattern is to follow Porter’s Value Chain of Core Processes, Support Processes, Admnistrative ones, etc. (I do not know much about Porter’s Value Chain, but I guess there is much more to it than simply showing the processes sequence).

I did not find any examples from other companies in the same branch of business as we are. But basically, 99% of our clients are government (usually municipal or state level).

That is, we are regulated by public bidding laws. Marketing, going in search of clients, everything most companies do to keep their clients... that doesn´t really apply to us.

We may do the best asphalt, provide the best post contract support. In the next public bidding, lowest price bidder will win the client.

Another thing I find hard to correlate with most examples I find, is that we work with services and most Value Chain examples I find are of companies that manufacture products.

Even in the Core processes, the sequence is not THAT logical, meaning that many processes are not exactly sequential, but parallel, while most Value Chain examples seem to have very sequential Core Processes while support processes are parallel to most of the Core Processes sequence.

That said, my understanding of Core Processes that add value to the cliente are:
Bidding – search for public bids open which requirements match our capacity, in our geographical area of operations; review of all public bid documentation in detail; confection of all paperwork showing we qualify for the bidding;
Budget : creation of a budget (sometimes thousands of items) based on materials and sub-contrator prices, plus our own prices based on past data
Contract Planning: planning of resources allocation, machines that will be used, physical-financial spreadsheets. Constant monitoring of contracts works, construction timelines. Re-planning if necessary (sometimes conditions not planned by the client in the project emerge, changing the project itself or adding (or even subtracting) major costs and timelines.
Contract Control: this is a process that runs parallel to everything else from the moment we start construction Works to the end of the contract. But I wouldn´t classify as “support”, because it deals directly with clients and it adds value to the client.
Materials Acquisition: budgeting, negotiation, acquisition of materials necessary to perform the civil infrastructure works (sand, diesel, concrete, rock/peebles, pre-molded concrete pieces, wood, asphalt, etc)
Construction/Production : it’s the actual creation of earthworks, sewer systems, roads, streets, etc.
Production Control: it involves mostly the verification of services done (both quality and completion and conformity to project), the keeping of work diaries, etc.
And finally maybe I could add
Contract Maintenance: which is a minor process actually (you see, our public clients do have their own fiscals who fiscalize every step in the project construction, so after contract is finished, it’s quite uncommon for problems to arise that need some maintenance due to contract obligations.


Of course, that’s quite a coarse granularity. Each of these Processes could have a finer granularity, specially if we decide to put it into a BPMS automating the processes.

Ps: I did not consider Acquisition of Sub-Contractor Services or Acquisition of Heavy Machinery Renting as Core Processes, as I considered those as supporting the Production/Construction. They are not essential I guess. We add sub-contractors to perform better/expanded capabilities, but we also have the capability of executing many contracts on our own.

Err... although, if I say those processes allow us to perform better and expand capabilities, maybe they add value to the client? Maybe I should have only Acquisition (which in a finer granularity would be composed of Materials Acquisition, Machinery Renting, Subcontractor Acquisition?)

Thanks for any inputs and criticism.
 

John Broomfield

Fully retired...
Trusted
#2
So I am trying to map our company processes.

It seems the usual pattern is to follow Porter’s Value Chain of Core Processes, Support Processes, Admnistrative ones, etc. (I do not know much about Porter’s Value Chain, but I guess there is much more to it than simply showing the processes sequence).

I did not find any examples from other companies in the same branch of business as we are. But basically, 99% of our clients are government (usually municipal or state level).

That is, we are regulated by public bidding laws. Marketing, going in search of clients, everything most companies do to keep their clients... that doesn´t really apply to us.

We may do the best asphalt, provide the best post contract support. In the next public bidding, lowest price bidder will win the client.

Another thing I find hard to correlate with most examples I find, is that we work with services and most Value Chain examples I find are of companies that manufacture products.

Even in the Core processes, the sequence is not THAT logical, meaning that many processes are not exactly sequential, but parallel, while most Value Chain examples seem to have very sequential Core Processes while support processes are parallel to most of the Core Processes sequence.

That said, my understanding of Core Processes that add value to the cliente are:
Bidding – search for public bids open which requirements match our capacity, in our geographical area of operations; review of all public bid documentation in detail; confection of all paperwork showing we qualify for the bidding;
Budget : creation of a budget (sometimes thousands of items) based on materials and sub-contrator prices, plus our own prices based on past data
Contract Planning: planning of resources allocation, machines that will be used, physical-financial spreadsheets. Constant monitoring of contracts works, construction timelines. Re-planning if necessary (sometimes conditions not planned by the client in the project emerge, changing the project itself or adding (or even subtracting) major costs and timelines.
Contract Control: this is a process that runs parallel to everything else from the moment we start construction Works to the end of the contract. But I wouldn´t classify as “support”, because it deals directly with clients and it adds value to the client.
Materials Acquisition: budgeting, negotiation, acquisition of materials necessary to perform the civil infrastructure works (sand, diesel, concrete, rock/peebles, pre-molded concrete pieces, wood, asphalt, etc)
Construction/Production : it’s the actual creation of earthworks, sewer systems, roads, streets, etc.
Production Control: it involves mostly the verification of services done (both quality and completion and conformity to project), the keeping of work diaries, etc.
And finally maybe I could add
Contract Maintenance: which is a minor process actually (you see, our public clients do have their own fiscals who fiscalize every step in the project construction, so after contract is finished, it’s quite uncommon for problems to arise that need some maintenance due to contract obligations.


Of course, that’s quite a coarse granularity. Each of these Processes could have a finer granularity, specially if we decide to put it into a BPMS automating the processes.

Ps: I did not consider Acquisition of Sub-Contractor Services or Acquisition of Heavy Machinery Renting as Core Processes, as I considered those as supporting the Production/Construction. They are not essential I guess. We add sub-contractors to perform better/expanded capabilities, but we also have the capability of executing many contracts on our own.

Err... although, if I say those processes allow us to perform better and expand capabilities, maybe they add value to the client? Maybe I should have only Acquisition (which in a finer granularity would be composed of Materials Acquisition, Machinery Renting, Subcontractor Acquisition?)

Thanks for any inputs and criticism.
Roger,

Welcome to the Cove.

I hope that you are using deployment flowcharts to capture those processes as they are and not as you’d like them to be. TeamFlow was a favorite with my clients.

Your core process runs from understanding customer needs to cash in the bank so you are on the right track.

I would include the key processes of getting paid on time and paying subcontractors and suppliers for conforming services and products.

You start at bidding but I’m pretty sure that before bidding your company is making promises with its website and with its marketing and sales process, and quality is about making and keeping competitive promises.

Remember that ISO 9001 requires quality to be assured and delivered via the organization’s business processes.

Purchasing often is a support process in project-driven construction companies.

When analyzing each of the processes in your organization’s system make sure you listen well to the process expert (aka process owner) and question closely this person to understand what is actually done to prevent problems (the P in PDCA) instead of glossing over that to focus on how work is done and it’s results are inspected.

Lastly, consider including in your management system what your company does to make itself unique (broadly) and uniquely qualified to understand and satisfy the needs of each client. This may be service design and is easily missed.

Best wishes,

John
 

rogerpenna

Involved In Discussions
#3
Thanks for the reply John


I hope that you are using deployment flowcharts to capture those processes as they are and not as you’d like them to be. TeamFlow was a favorite with my clients.
I am using Bizagi Modeller for Modelling As-Is processes. When automating them in the future, will be using chosen BPMS own mapping system. (of course, only for a few processes)




I would include the key processes of getting paid on time and paying subcontractors and suppliers for conforming services and products.
Getting paid on time is a subprocess of Contract Control. It works quite different than with a private client (which are a minority). Plus there is hardly a "paid on time" when working with public sector in my country. Good news: you WILL get your money. Bad news: not sure when.



You start at bidding but I’m pretty sure that before bidding your company is making promises with its website and with its marketing and sales process, and quality is about making and keeping competitive promises.
actually no. We don´t even have or need a website.

That's the point. Making promises? Marketing? Sales process? Quality? Nope.

When working with Public sector, the bidding process is determined by federal law, how it should occur, everything.

Public biddings are open. The client does not search us. They post a "notice". Any company can enter. If they fullfill the requirements (and the extent of requirements are also regulated by law so the bidding is "fair"), which include proof of not being in debt, of having equity and money to invest in front (before being paid), that they oblige to laws and that they have made public works of the same kind and similar extent, proving their technical capacity to fulful the contract... then they are qualified.

You see, you no need for marketing or sales. You just have to fulfill the requisites.

Being qualified, it's all a question of your bidding proposal being of lower price than the competition.


Even if a bidding process asks for proof of quality in part works, it's subjective so someone that loses the bidding will be certain to sue and block the bidding for a few years. So this is never asked.

Remember that ISO 9001 requires quality to be assured and delivered via the organization’s business processes.
We can assure and deliver it. But we can't sell it or market it.

Purchasing often is a support process in project-driven construction companies.
just to make sure in case of "lost in translation", we don´t make projects. Governments often bid for a company to make a project. Then bid for another company (and usually there are laws that assure it's not the same company) to execute it.

We execute projects.


Lastly, consider including in your management system what your company does to make itself unique (broadly) and uniquely qualified to understand and satisfy the needs of each client. This may be service design and is easily missed.

this is again something hard in our sector, dealing only with public biddings. Surpassing client expectations don´t gain you more clients. Do not keep your clients.
Best wishes,

John[/QUOTE]
 

rogerpenna

Involved In Discussions
#4
Returning to the granularity discussion...

in a BPMS, you may sometimes need a lot of granularity for the automation to work...

that is... you may want to model processes that are very specific. In HR alone for example, I may have a dozen processes.


Let's return to the example of my own company.

"Contract Planning" is actually composed of what can be considered a dozen different processes.

Right now, we do have two written Procedures that can be categorized as the MacroProcess Contract Planning.

In truth, these written procedures could be divided in a few different processes each.


ISO 9001 asks for the organization to recognize it's processes and the relationships between them. But it doesn´t specify the granularity.


Can I show the macroprocesses (like the ones mentioned above) and their relationships, divided as Core, Management and Support macroprocesses, and then specify which processes AND/OR procedures are those macroprocesses composed of?

thanks.
 

John Broomfield

Fully retired...
Trusted
#5
Roger,

I understand that by using Bizagi Modeller you are attempting to automate many tasks. I’d still engage process owners in capturing their processes in deployment flowcharts to establish the “as-built” of your process based management system as it is. Then everyone can see their system ready to determine which of the tasks to automate and to prioritize the order of your task automation project.

You may missed that ISO 9001 does specify granularity with verbiage along the lines of “to the extent necessary for effective planning, operation and control”. Reducing the role of competent humans by automating the tasks within the processes demands a helluva lot more granuality.

Yes, first capture your process-based management system with deployment flowcharts as procedures (referring to forms as necessary to collect data and to detailed “how to” instructions for critical tasks). Your flowcharted procedures show who does what and their interactions to fulfill process objectives.

It is essential to engage process owners in this.

Instead of saying macro, micro etc... I would differentiate between tasks (by individuals) and processes (by teams). This may help your colleagues to join with you in making your project successful at both the ISO 9001 and automation levels.

The scope of work necessary to complete an automation project is several orders of magnitude greater than what is necessary to develop your organization’s process-based management system so it can be used and improved to assure and deliver quality while also conforming to ISO 9001.

Best wishes,

John
 

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