Information Management Challenges in Global Engineering Projects
Aker Solutions' Industrial Ph.D. candiate Soffi Westin is working on improving quality in engineering projects through Information Management. The project is a collaboration between the University of Agder and Aker MH, both located in Kristiansand.
The importance of quality
Quality is considered important for any construction company.
This organisation produces high tech equipment and design for offshore installations in the oil and gas sector. The work is usually carried out through projects, existing of many different disciplines within engineering – for instance electro, instrument, structure, piping etc – and also other disciplines like information technology (IT), information systems (IS), information management (IM), project management etc.
High quality is a key factor for all disciplines at all levels.
The detailing of the concept of quality will of course differ between the disciplines involved in the projects. The minds of the instrument engineers will be concerned with different issues of quality than the engineers working with steel structures. But, as a whole, all quality issues have to be addressed in order to reach the goals.
Flow of information
Within an engineering project there is a constant flow of information in many different formats and at all levels and in all phases. This can, for instance, involve different engineering databases, document registers, 3D-modelling tools, external customer applications with requirements for special data interfaces etc.
Information Management (IM) means to control the structure, timing and versioning of information, and how processing and control should be carried out. IM workers are busy trying to get the overview of all the information flows within the project, between projects and within the organisation itself.
The IT/IS organisation is a part of the IM organisation. IT/IS develop, implement and support information systems throughout the organisation, hence, the IM organisation need to obtain an overview over the processes, procedures and information flows in order to align them with the information systems, or vice versa.
The information systems contain data which again makes the basis for the organisations deliveries, whether it is design or products. The higher quality on the information provided by these data, the better the result. The challenges are related to data/information quality in terms of information flows, consistency, logic, and filling. In addition the information given has to be adequate and on time. This adds to the already high complexity of an engineering project; the number of applications involved, both internal and external, the huge amount of records, the different formats, different requirements, the high number of people from several different disciplines, located all over the world, yet they are working in the same project.
This shows that the challenges involved are demanding, nevertheless, the challenges need to be handled in the best possible way in order to deliver the best quality possible.
The question is: How can information management contribute to improve information quality in global engineering projects?
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