This is the first article in a series about the typical stages and phases of complex engineering projects. Each article looks at one stage and how Assai supports the requirements and common challenges of that stage – ultimately contributing to the efficient, timely, (cost-)effective and safe delivery of projects. Please check back regularly for more articles on other project stages.

The feasibility study is the first of the engineering project stages.
The feasibility study is the first of the engineering project stages.

The feasibility study in a nutshell

The feasibility study is the first phase of an engineering project. Its main objective is to determine whether the project is worth the investment for the owner/client. This could be new development or extension of an asset (greenfield and brownfield projects) – for example a refinery, FPSO, offshore wind park, solar farm, carbon capture & storage, mine, or infrastructure.

A feasibility study helps determine if the project is viable and justifiable. Not only technical and economic feasibility is evaluated, but also legal, planning, and operational feasibility, as well as an assessment of the project’s environmental, social, economic and political impacts.

The duration of this project stage depends on the nature, location, size and complexity of the project. Completing this stage is a key milestone for any project and the gateway to the Conceptual Design stage (or: Concept Definition). Not all project ideas turn out to be feasible or viable, which is exactly why this stage is so important.

Who is involved in the feasibility study?

This study often involves a wide range of specialists, such as engineers from different engineering disciplines, geologists, and policy experts. The team size and expertise required also depend on the nature, location, size and complexity of the project. In this stage, the team of engineers is relatively small compared to later stages, because the study provides a high-level evaluation of options and not an actual design yet. External expertise might be hired by the client/project owner, but (sub)contractors usually only come into the picture in later stages.

When is the right time to consider a Document Control strategy?

It’s never too early to consider a Document Control strategy. The decisions made in this phase have an impact on all subsequent project phases. It does not involve a lot of work and can be kept high-level (like the feasibility study itself) but it’s recommended to already consider the following:

  • The project will need an eDMS after passing this stage, and could already benefit from an eDMS right now.
  • A top-quality, properly configured eDMS – with true, out-of-the-box Document Control functionality – is a critical success factor (CSF) for any engineering project.
  • Experienced Document Controllers can bring much added-value to a project.
  • A proper Document Control process will ensure effective and unique reference numbers from the start, prevent loss of any project documentation and time-waste searching for them, and prevent the use of outdated documents or information by any stakeholders.
  • What would be the most effective Document Control process, numbering structures (e.g. for documents, drawings, correspondence), revision coding, reference data (e.g. discipline codes and document types) and access requirements.

When is the right time to consider selecting an eDMS?

While selecting an eDMS often receives a lower priority early in a project, it is very useful to consider early on. This is all too often initiated too late, which means having to select and configure an eDMS under pressure – while the risks and consequences of not having an eDMS start to become apparent – and it distracts from core project activities. As more documents, people and external parties get involved, having an eDMS in place becomes more crucial. Choosing the right eDMS is a strategic choice, in which all the pros and cons of solutions should be evaluated.

Choosing the right eDMS is a strategic choice, in which all the pros and cons of solutions should be evaluated.
Choosing the right eDMS is a strategic choice, in which all the pros and cons of solutions should be evaluated.

There are many different eDMS solutions on the market, but few are tailored to and capable of supporting (complex) engineering projects out-of-the-box, plus not to forget: your project’s requirements, standards and business processes. This makes it quite important to carefully select the right eDMS for your project.

Having a high-quality eDMS in place that meets the project’s needs will not only help to keep things well-organized in the current project stage, but also enable a smooth transition into next project stages – which can benefit from the already configured eDMS and an easy handover of relevant documents from the preceding stage (with proper document numbering and revisioning).

How Assai supports the feasibility study

Assai provides out-of-the-box support for all project stages (and operations), based on over 30 years of experience. While the feasibility study may not involve so many documents and people/parties yet, it is already important to have a clear “single source of truth” for your project deliverables, such as documents and correspondence, with unique reference numbers. Plus to keep track of planning dates, responsibilities, actions, changes, access levels and what more is relevant to record in this stage.

As a result, all people and organizations involved will have easy and ubiquitous access to the right and latest information. Stakeholders that need to create documents in Assai can easily do so, with efficient quality-check and review options, as needed.

Compliance is also guaranteed by the out-of-the-box (and customizable) authorization structures, user roles & permissions, and traceability of any document file downloads, review & approval history and any changes.

Within days, you could have your own Assai Cloud environment – or on-premises/Azure Stack, if preferred – to accommodate any number of projects, documents and users. Configuration is a breeze and can be maintained without the help of Assai consultants. Our experts in document management and document control are there to advise you on best practices and how Assai could optimally support your project. This includes (Power BI) reports and dashboards, with many readily available templates and endless customization options.

Summary

We hope you found this article about the Feasibility Study 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:

  • An engineering project usually starts with a feasibility study, to determine if it is worth the investment. This can involve many different specialists.
  • It is never too early to initiate selection and setup of an eDMS.
  • Even in early stages, an eDMS provides benefits and reassurance. It also avoids having to select and implement this when things get busy.
  • Transition to next project stages is smoother with an eDMS.
  • Assai provides a best-in-class eDMS solution with out-of-the-box support for all project stages, quick setup, easy maintenance. High availability, security and scalability come standard.

Up next: Conceptual Design

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