What is the Project Definition Rating Index (PDRI)?

The Project Definition Rating Index (PDRI) is a methodology used for capital projects to measure the degree of scope definition, identify gaps, and take appropriate actions to reduce risk during front end planning.

PDRI is used at multiple stages in the front end planning process.  As a project progresses, identified gaps will continue to be addressed until a sufficient level of definition is achieved for the project to successfully proceed to detailed design and construction.

The steps to conduct a PDRI review include a workshop with the project team, led by a neutral facilitator. Each element is scored along with any comments and action items captured. To close, the facilitator will review the final score with the project team.

We’ve answered some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in the section below.

Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.

For more in-depth discussions, we invite you to join us at our next introductory webinar and virtual training course.


Introduction to PDRI

If you are new to PDRI and looking for a good overview of the methodology, start with this white paper.

VIDEO: What is PDRI?

This introductory video will help your project stakeholders understand PDRI and answers the question:

What is PDRI?

What are the benefits of PDRI?

Who uses PDRI?

When to use PDRI?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is PDRI critical?

Poor scope definition is recognized as one of the leading causes of project failure, resulting in cost and schedule overruns, and long term operational issues. As a result, front end planning is one of the most important process in the construction and operation of a capital asset. The PDRI methodology is proven to reduce risk in capital project delivery by promoting rigorous scope definition and a collaborative review process during front end planning. Using the PDRI methodology will help your project teams improve scope definition, become better aligned, and provide transparency on identified gaps. This helps to equip all project stakeholders to better mitigate risks identified in PDRI reviews, predict potential issues, and overcome costly problems down the road.

Who uses PDRI?

Owners Owners with large capital expenditures in construction-related projects are the leading users of PDRI.

Engineering Firms & Contractors also use PDRI. It is used as an alignment tool in the development of an Owner’s business objectives, to clarify requirements, improve cost and schedule estimates, and coordinate execution planning.

Contractors also use PDRI to assist in risk assessment for a Request for Proposal (RFP) on a project where scope definition has been completed by the Owner or another engineering firm.

When is PDRI used in the project lifecycle?

PDRI can be used at multiple points during front end planning, and normally coincides with the completion of a stage. Organizations that adopt PDRI as part of their project governance normally require a minimum of two PDRI sessions.

CII front end planning phase-gate process

How is PDRI structured?

Sample Element Description

The PDRI methodology supports a comprehensive assessment of scope definition. Templates are organized in three sections for systematic assessment of the:

  • Basis of project decision – the business objectives and drivers
  • Basis of design – processes and technical information required
  • Execution approach – for executing the project construction and closeout

Each section is broken down into categories and elements. The element is the lowest level of the index where the assessment of scope definition is conducted.

Is PDRI applicable to all capital projects?

There are five industry-validated PDRI templates that are each focused on a specific industry sector.

PDRI for Industrial Projects

The Industrial template is targeted for projects that provide an output in terms of assemblies, sub-assemblies, chemical compounds, electricity, food or other marketable goods. Examples include power plants, chemical plants, oil & gas production, refineries, water and waste treatment, and manufacturing facilities.

PDRI for Building Projects

The Building template is designed for commercial building projects. Examples including offices, schools, medical facilities, institutional buildings, warehouses, parking structures and research facilities.

PDRI for Infrastructure Projects

The Infrastructure template is targeted for projects that involve linear construction with extensive public interface and environmental impact considerations. Examples include railways, highways, pipelines, transmission and distribution and canals.

PDRI for Manufacturing & Life Sciences (MLS) Projects

The Manufacturing & Life Sciences (MLS) template is targeted for projects with both process and building programming scope. This template includes specific considerations for technology (enterprise & control systems), regulatory compliance, extensive commissioning and environmental controls.

PDRI for Mining Projects

The Mining template is designed for greenfield mining projects and encompasses the specific considerations involved in these complex projects such as limited infrastructure, uncertainty of site conditions, geo-political risk and environmental constraints.

Is PDRI used in brownfield projects?

All PDRI templates include risk factors related to both new construction (greenfield) and renovation and revamp (brownfield) projects.

Can PDRI add value for our small projects?

PDRI is successfully used around the world for small, large and mega projects.  Purpose-built templates include PDRI for Small Industrial and PDRI for Small Infrastructure projects.

Where does PDRI originate?

The Construction Industry Institute (CII) recognizes front end planning as the single biggest factor in controlling cost and schedule in capital projects. For over 20 years CII’s research and development has focused on helping project teams use the front end planning process and tools to create an environment for success. The PDRI is one of the leading toolsets that resulted from this research focus.

Can any company use PDRI?

Yes! PDRI is an open industry standard for measuring scope definition.  The Construction Industry Institute is committed to sharing their best practices.  CII works with their Registered Education Providers to help both CII members and the general public learn about their best practices.


PDRI MATRS (Maturity and Accuracy Total Rating System) is an extension of the PDRI Industrial template that assesses both the maturity and accuracy of FEED in large, complex industrial projects. It is best suited for large, complex industrial projects where total installed cost is greater than $10M USD, construction duration is at least 9 months and the core team consists of more than 10 members.

FEED is defined as “Front End Engineering Design”. It is a component of the front end planning process referred to as Detailed Scope (Phase 3).

In addition to the core benefits of PDRI assessments, PDRI MATRS will improve the degree of confidence in the level of maturity of FEED deliverables to serve as a basis of decision at the end of Detailed Scope (Phase 3). This typically represents 30% of engineering and design complete and is within the Class 3 cost estimate range (AACEi).

Definition level criteria for all elements

One of the key resources developed as part of the PDRI MATRS tool was definition level criteria for all elements. This is a valuable asset for increased consistency in facilitation. The score guidance provides increased clarity on specifically what must be completed for each element and definition level.

Maturity Score

There are 46 of 70 elements that are directly related to FEED. They span all three sections of the PDRI Industrial template and maintain the same weightings and definition level values as the standard PDRI Industrial template. The normalization formula transforms the PDRI score of these elements into a Maturity percentage. A higher maturity score indicates better scope definition. By the end of Detailed Scope (Phase 3), the target score is 80% or higher.

Accuracy factors

The Accuracy Factors have been added as a new section. This set of factors involve the people, teams, processes and resources that create the environment where a mature FEED can be developed. There are 27 factors organized into four categories. Their weightings were determined based on CII research results and are displayed as a percentage. The target score at the end of Detailed Scope (Phase 3) is 76%. The higher the score, the better.

Facilitating a PDRI MATRS session

Valency has incorporated the latest PDRI MATRS template into Carve – our web based project assurance platform. For a detailed view of how it works, click here to watch the tutorial: https://valencyinc.com/project/facilitating-a-pdri-matrs-session/

How can Valency help?

PDRI FacilitationWe offer a wide range of services to assist organizations in getting started with PDRI, growing your implementation, and standardizing PDRI as a best practice across your organization. Our solution offering includes:

Valency is a Registered Education Provider with CII and CMAA. We offer educational modules including PDRI principles & practices, implementation best practices and facilitation training.

Carve for PDRI
An application that simplifies PDRI implementation and makes PDRI engaging for all project stakeholders.

Third-party Facilitation Services
Our team of Certified PDRI facilitators are veterans in industrial, building and infrastructure projects.

To learn more Valency’s solution offering, please contact us.

Additional Resources