This article is part of a series about the typical stages and phases of complex engineering projects. Each article takes one stage and describes how Assai supports the requirements and common challenges of that stage – ultimately contributing to the efficient, timely, (cost-)effective and safe delivery of projects. 

feed stage in complex engineering project lifecycle

FEED in a nutshell

The FEED or FEE stage (Front-End Engineering Design) – sometimes Basic Engineering, ‘Define’ or ‘FEL-3’ phase – usually follows after the pre-FEED stage (or the ‘Select’ / ‘FEL-2’ phase). Based on the pre-FEED deliverables (mainly the Basis of Design and FEED Scope of Work), Basic Engineering will be completed with the “FEED Package” as a final result. The FEED Package forms the basis for contract bidding for the ‘Execution’ phase: Engineering (Detailed Design), Procurement and Construction – often carried out by one main EPC contractor.

While the FEED stage on average “only” represents 2% of the total project execution cost, it can save up to 30% on further design and execution cost if done well. With the end in mind, it is also wise to involve construction and operations teams early on.

Cost estimate accuracy in the FEED stage is typically around +/- 15 to 20% (CAPEX). By the end of this stage, engineering is generally 12 to 20% complete (depending on the amount of detailing needed to consider the project ready for Detailed Design and on the type of EPC contract).

By the end of the FEED stage, a final investment decision (FID) needs to be made for the engineering project. At this point – with a clear picture of the project scope and cost, and a relatively small part of overall budget spent – there is still a chance to abandon the project if not economically viable or cost-effective after all.

Key deliverables and outputs

The main deliverable of the FEED stage is the FEED package. This contains a wide variety of deliverables and forms the basis for EPC contract bidding. Typical FEED stage deliverables include:

  • Operating philosophy
  • Project Execution Plan
  • Master document register (MDR)
  • HAZOP or SIL reports (process safety studies)
  • Specifications and standards
  • Final Plot Plan
  • P&ID drawings (Piping & Instrumentation Diagrams)
  • Equipment Lists & Specifications (though no equipment is procured yet)
  • Line Lists
  • Mechanical Data Sheet (MDS)
  • Electrical Data Sheets (EDS)
  • Instrument Index
  • Cause & Effect Diagrams
  • Material Selection Diagram (MSD)
  • Start of BOM list (Bill of Materials)
  • Start of 3D models
  • Vendor list
  • Licensor selection
Initial 3D model of a tanker

Selecting a contractor

The subsequent project stages – Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) – are often performed by an EPC contractor. Selecting a contractor usually happens through a tendering process, where multiple companies may submit a bid to win the contract, based on the contents of the FEED Package. The FEED Package needs to be sufficiently detailed and specific to receive proposals that meet the project’s requirements and expectations and are easy to compare, but not so specific or demanding as to restrict the options for bidders or even prevent them from bidding at all.

Outsourcing EPC work to a contractor allows client companies to scale up and down (specialized) resources as required, and make use of their extensive project experience and expertise. Contractors can provide specialists for many different project roles and engineering disciplines; e.g. Process, Process Safety, Civil, Structural, Mechanical, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), Piping, Electrical, Instrumentation and HSE (Health, Safety & Environment).

The next article in this series (on Detailed Design) will cover some common contract models (e.g. EPC, EPCM, EPCI, BOT, BOOT, DFBO).

Assai makes it extremely easy for contractors and other externals to receive and submit documentation, after just 30 minutes of training. The level of automation is remarkable. This has saved our projects a lot of time and resources.

IM/DC department of a major project with ca. 600K documents

How Assai supports FEED

Assai provides out-of-the-box support for all project stages (and operations), with over 30 years of experience. The following Assai features are key in supporting the FEED stage and getting everything ‘AFD’ (Approved for Design) in time:

  • Powerful document search & drill down options
  • Never any doubt about the latest revision or latest information
  • Always clear who has responsibility or actions to complete
  • High level of automation for engineers and Document Controllers
  • Out-of-the-box, flexible workflows for review & approval
  • Collaborative reviews and redline commenting
  • Generate corporate file templates with pre-populated information
  • Digital stamping and signing of documents
  • Automated e-mail notifications of new and overdue actions
  • Planning & progress at any level; document, work package or project
  • Assai Portal optimizes collaboration with external parties, saves resources
  • Store official correspondence with the right access control
  • Dedicated technical query module to handle any type of query
  • Assets module: link documents to tags for benefits in next project stages
  • Simple user account management & access control, Single Sign-On
  • Records management for records to be frozen and retained.
  • Mark & track documentation required for handover (to EPC), fully digital
  • Extensive report & dashboard features, Power BI reporting

Plus, as highlighted in previous articles:

Keep things organised and get things done with Assai


We hope you found this article about the FEED project stage interesting and useful. Please let us know if you have any questions or feedback, or if you would like to explore with us how Assai could support your project(s).

A short summary of what was discussed in this article:

  • Based on the output of the pre-FEED stage, FEED adds another level of detail to the selected design. This finally results in a “FEED Package” which can be used as the basis for EPC contract bidding (and starting the Detailed Design stage).
  • The FEED stage usually produces large numbers of deliverables, with many things happening in parallel in a fast-track environment. It is a major challenge to stay in control of all document flows, to keep everything efficient and safe, and everyone productive.
  • A specialized eDMS application and Document Control function are critical success factors for completion of the FEED stage – efficiently, safely, on time and within budget.
  • Many industry leaders worldwide trust Assai as their eDMS solution of choice, which is built on 30+ years of industry experience and best practices. Assai promises true out-of-the-box support for all project stages including FEED and beyond; even into operations, maintenance & modifications, and Digital Twins.

Download the 50+ page PDF!

If you would like to read all articles in a 50+ page PDF which you can print or distribute in your organization, you can download them via the form below:

Previous stage: pre-FEED

Next stage: Detailed Design

All articles in this series:

Feasibility Study
Conceptual Design
FEED (current article)
Detailed Design
Procurement & Fabrication
Construction & Installation

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