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Approximately 7 years ago, it was identified that the Hillsborough County Water Department needed to change the way it managed its Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Previously, all capital improvement projects had been managed by a separate department within the County. The Water Department took over managing their own program but struggled with completing projects on time and on budget and rarely looked at what the priorities were but rather worked on those projects that received the most internal and external complaints.

Camp Dresser and McKee (CDM) was hired to assist the Water Department to formulate a new Capital Projects Delivery System. CDM was familiar with the Water Department operations and personnel since they were also contracted as the Utility Revenue Bond Engineer at the same time. CDM began a process by having group work sessions with the staff to get an idea of what they perceived were the strong and weak points of the current system. Using these ideas as well as industry standards for project and program management, a new project delivery system was developed and implemented.

The new system contains several key elements including scheduling and cost-loading all projects using Primavera P3 scheduling software, prioritizing all projects using a standardized matrix, and performing a payback analysis on all projects using a standardized model.

CDM assisted with creating standard schedule templates for Primavera P3 as well as the prioritization matrix and payback models. Additionally, training sessions were held related to cost estimating, project scheduling, and general project management skill to help bring the staff up to speed.

To make sure the process was being followed, a formalized process was developed using a flow chart showing how a project would enter and exit the new Capital Projects Delivery System and what actions would be taken during each step of the system. This process was supported by upper management with the Engineering Section Manager controlling the process as well as approving any changes to it.

The results of the changes have been amazing. Statistics show that the throughput of the projects has increased from 1999 to the present by 25 million dollars per year with almost the same staffing levels. The percent of projects completed on time has also increased from less than 60 percent to greater than 95 percent in that same period of time. Through the prioritization process, the program has become a more balanced mix of expansion and renewal & replacement projects, where before it was mostly expansion driven, with the aging infrastructure being mostly overlooked. In addition, by utilizing Primavera P3 software, the Water Department can look ahead at the project expenditures for the next ten years and balance expenditures against projected revenues. By doing this the Water Department is now able to perform capital improvement projects on a pay-as-you-go basis which is projected to save the County millions of dollars in reduced debt service.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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