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Many Projects, One Solution

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The island of Puerto Rico is one of the most densely populated islands in the world and the ratio of people to square mile is higher than within any of the 50 states in the United States at 1,000 people per square mile. The island's water and wastewater service is served by over 10,000 miles of water mains and aqueducts and 2,000 miles of sewage lines that is maintained by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA). Puerto Rico's water quality is subject to the same regulated EPA standards that apply on the U.S. mainland.

The Project:

PRASA has been performing the monumental task of upgrading the island's aging infrastructure. In 2006 PRASA embarked on the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) which is focused on meeting the customers’needs by improving reliability, efficiency and regulatory compliance. The objectives of the CIP are to:

Simplify of PRASA's systems to improve operation efficiency

Comply with regulatory requirements

Prioritize projects based on areas of need and regulatory requirements

PRASA identified over 500 projects with 100 priority projects identified initially.

The Challenges:

PRASA faces challenges related to the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) that many Utility Managers and Directors can relate to:

Compressed Schedules

Reduced Budgets

Management of multiple projects, field offices, and consultants

Standardization of business processes throughout the program

Identification of potential issues, before they become issues and their resolutions

Centralized access to all program information

Understand what is happening at any given time!

Meeting the Challenge:

PRASA met these challenges and is achieving its goals due to proper planning and a multi-pronged approach to CIP management. The keys to success are as follows:

Building a top notch infrastructure management team

Contracting with nationally recognized engineering firms

Using of a Results-Oriented approach to CIP measurement and accountability

Standardizing of processes and centralizing information through a Program Management Information System (PMIS)

Infrastructure Management Team:

PRASA decentralized administration by creating five operating regions for the island and establishing management positions, each with limited appointment duration. This modified organization and operational structure allowed management to focus on improvements.

Building a team:

With over 500 active projects, PRASA is managing the CIP with the help of five Program Management Consultants (PMCs), as follows:

Malcolm Pirnie, Inc. with Caribbean Project Management

LG Scott (CH2MHill)

CSA Group

Black & Veatch with CMA Architects & Engineers

Camp, Dresser & McKee

The PMCs are tasked with performing the planning, design, procurement, construction management and startup of these projects as an extended group to PRASA.

The key to PRASA's use of multiple PMCs is working cooperatively to meet PRASA's goals. The PMIS used by PRASA allows for each PMC to have their own view of the data so they could manage, track and report on their assigned projects. PRASA has the ability to see all projects, create new ones and view Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for all projects. PRASA can track funding, create budgets, and view up-to-date expenditures. Each PMC can provide estimates, schedules, and identify issues throughout the project. The tracking of this information led to standardization of project progress reporting.

Monthly reports and metrics are automatically generated from the PMIS. The standard, consistent reports allow PRASA to easily see progress and effectively track the performance of each PMC. Monthly progress meeting are no longer drawn out affairs since each PMC provides progress in the same organized and structured fashion.

Results-oriented approach:

PRASA realized right away that each PMC would have there own way of managing their assigned projects so it was important to focus on metrics that would account for progress on each project uniformly.

The definition and subsequent capture of these KPIs has been a fluid process with a resultant tool called the“Track Tool”which was built into PRASA's PMIS. The monthly progress meetings focused on the metrics measured in the Track Tool and provided accountability in each phase of the project.

Standardizing and Centralizing:

PRASA was able to standardize their business processes, and capture of project information by employing a PMIS. The PMIS is the central repository for all program management related activities. This includes all phases of the project from planning through operation. The PMIS needed the ability to perform program management tasks, construction management tasks and design tasks seamlessly. The PMIS handles identifying and tracking items related to all phases of the projects such as:



Change orders



Request for Information (RFI)



The poster:

Ingrid Vila of PRASA and Ertan Akbas of Malcolm Pirnie, Inc. will discuss the Puerto Rico CIP, the challenges, and solutions, with a focus on:

The unique approach to organizing the Program Management Consortium and working cooperatively with the Key Stakeholders

The results-oriented approach to meeting the CIP schedule and budgets

The Program Management Information System (PMIS) and how it assisted in tracking projects and the key performance metrics

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

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