PDRI: Can it be used to classify projects based on level of readiness in Front End Planning (FEP)?

For organizations with a large portfolio of projects, it is helpful to be able to monitor and compare groupings of projects by type, or classification. Project classification schemes allow you to analyze construction projects by grouping them according to similar characteristics. This can often be very challenging due to the many unique aspects of any given construction project.

There are currently a number of methodologies used for project classification relevant to construction management. The schemes include:

  1. Rule-of-Thumb Classification
  2. Classification by Complexity
  3. Function-Based Classification
  4. Project Classification for Supply Chain Management
  5. Project Parameters-Based Classification for Machine Scheduling
  6. A Posteriori Project Classification Using Linear Discriminate Analysis
  7. Project Classification for Strategic Portfolio Management
  8. Reference Class Forecasting

Each methodology has its optimum domain of applicability, ranging from a general guide for rapid project classification, to detailed project characterization schemes for scheduling purposes. Recently a study was done using data from 59 unique projects to show how PDRI could be used for classification. The full article is available here: Classification of Construction Projects.


Team Alignment

Using PDRI Scores to Classify Projects

When the project management team decides to apply the PDRI for project classification, the characteristics of each project must be carefully considered in order to select the most appropriate PDRI template, whether Building, Infrastructure, or Industrial.

Once the appropriate PDRI template has been selected, a facilitator team is matched to project needs based on the project industry, asset type, project size, and FEP stage. The facilitator team uses a comprehensive checklist of approximately 70 scope definition elements. These elements were weighted by CII research teams to underscore their potential impact on project readiness. Since the PDRI score relates to risk, vulnerable areas that need to be addressed can easily be isolated.

Ideal scores for a PDRI evaluation when a project is moving to are between 150 to 250, with a preferred score of 200 or less. The acceptable PDRI score ranges for the various phases of FEP are summarized in the Table below according to the Gate at which PDRI is applied:

PDRI scores

Acceptable PDRI Score

Once the PDRI score is calculated, it can be classified according to the score. The classification categories based on PDRI scores would be:

  • Satisfactory – if the PDRI score falls below the acceptable range for the evaluated FEP phase shown in the table
  • Action Required – if The PDRI score falls within the acceptable range for the evaluated FEP phase shown in the table
  • Major Revision Required – if the PDRI score falls above this range for the evaluated FEP phase shown in the table

This classification scheme can be used in risk analysis where poorly defined scope elements can be identified.

By aggregating PDRI results and considering other factors at a portfolio level, new insights can be gained. This includes risk monitoring based on the aggregate profile of the projects at each of the FEP gates as they transition into the execution phase

This proposed classification can help project managers address risk and decide to commit resources to maximize project performance and the probability of project success. Facilitation sessions are time-consuming for the key members of project management teams, however, ignoring any deficiencies in FEP can potentially incur significant costs and delays on the project. In terms of the range of classification schemes discussed, project classification by PDRI is comprehensive and useful as either a stand-alone method, or in conjunction with other schemes.

About the Author

Mahdi Safa, PhD

Dr. Mahdi Safa is a Senior Business Analyst with Valency, responsible for Valency’s front end planning applied analytics services.  He holds a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Waterloo and an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University.  Dr. Safa has authored numerous publications related to capital project front end planning, construction productivity and supply chain management.

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Mark Anderson

Director of Business Development at Valency
Mark Anderson is responsible for Business Development at Valency. Mark is a Project Management Professional (PMP) and his past experience includes running several companies in the Oil and Gas industry, as well as over 10 years sales and marketing experience in Software, Capital Project and Oil and Gas industries.