Adoption and Implementation of Project Management Plans (PMPs) for ABC Projects: Benefits and Challenges

Project Information
Link to the Latest: September 2023 Progress Report

The Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) process employs a variety of design, material, and management techniques to reduce the impacts of construction to the public, decreasing the time of construction and minimizing traffic disruptions. These projects require a great deal of planning and collaboration among project team members due to their complex nature. To guide the team’s planning and collaboration, Project Management Plans (PMP) are developed that define the roles of the team members and the processes that will be followed. These PMPs are critical tools and are required on major projects (over $500 million) on projects funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). It is critical that these PMPs are developed properly at the outset of the project so that they are a useful reference and guide throughout the project. The FHWA’s SHRP 2 R10 report provides guidance for completion of the PMPs for the projects on which they are required, there is no template or guide on the specifics of completing a PMP for an ABC project.

Bridges have long played a crucial role in our culture, and they are an integral element of our daily commutes. Researchers and engineers have been inventing new technologies and innovating new construction methods for many years to achieve more cost-effective, safe, and convenient methods or construction and rehabilitation of bridges. There are about 607,000 bridges on public roads spread out across the U.S. The average age of these bridges is 43 years, and nearly a quarter of hem require repair or replacement. The ABC approach is currently utilized in some states for the rapid construction of bridges, reduce traffic congestion, and for convenience to travelers. However, not all DOTs use the ABC approach. This may be due to hesitation of contractors to implement the ABC approach due to lack of awareness, training, incentives, or due to the culture of some OTs to rely on traditional methods. Having a formal guidance for PMPs crafted specifically for the ABC projects to mitigate/eliminate the complexities and uncertainties will facilitate the project team during the life of the projects and encourage higher adoption of the approach.
The research team will build on the team’s previously completed framework of PMP for ABC project for use by project teams to develop PMPs specifically for ABC projects. In this proposed project, the completed template will be piloted by the DOTs and contractors that the researchers will partner with. The resulting analysis will describe effective ways to use the previously developed PMP for ABC framework and, more importantly, effective ways to use the PMP as a reference for the successful completion of a project.

The goal of the proposed project is to capture the benefits and challenges of using the newly developed PMP for ABC to encourage wide-spread adoption of the framework. In order to accomplish the goal, the research team proposes five (5) specific tasks.
Task 1 – Work with partner entities to identify projects fitting for pilot studies (2 months)

  • The research team will partner with DOTs and contractors, who participated in the last phase of the project as members of delphi panel (to develop the framework of PMP for ABC) to identify projects to implement the framework on pilot basis. The research team has already got approval from Caltrans and is in conversation with few others who will adopt the framework of PMP for ABC in their project and allow the research team to collect data to document the benefits and challenges of adopting the framework. Getting the DOTs and contractors to adopt the framework to develop the PMPs for their projects, despite of not being a requirement is the major challenge of the proposed project.

Task 2 – Develop project PMPs using the template and guide developed specifically for ABC projects (3 months)

  • After identifying ABC projects suitable for the use of the framework on the pilot basis, the research team will work closely with the project team members to develop the PMPs for their respective projects. The research team will offer workshop to the team members of the pilot projects to familiarize them with the framework of PMP for ABC and guide them develop the PMP for their projects. As the PMP requires input from multiple stakeholders, all the relevant members will be recruited to attend the workshops and guidance sessions for developing the PMPs.

Task 3 – Track projects during construction to assess use of PMPs (8 months)

  • The research team will collect performance data from the pilot projects and compare them with ABC projects that did not use any PMPs. Data from the pilot projects will be collected from two sources: examination of project documents and interview of project team members. Project documents such as cost report, schedule updates, safety report, and similar will be examined to measure the project performance and compare with that of other ABC projects that did not use the PMP for ABC framework. Semi-structured and open interviews will be conducted of the project participants to gather their feedback on the efficacy of the PMP for ABC framework.

Task 4 – Analyze data gathered from projects and project teams (3 months)

  • Collected data will be analyzed using mixed method. The performance of the pilot projects will be measured using established and vetted metrics such as cost, schedule, safety, rework, scope change and compared with that of the other ABC projects without formal PMPs using quantitative methods. The collected interview data will be analyzed using thematic analysis to identify the emerging themes related to benefits and challenges to adopt PMP for ABC.

Task 5 – Make final updates to PMPs for ABC template and guide (1 month)

  • Based on the outcome of the analyses, the framework of PMP for ABC will be updated. The accompanying information on the benefits of using the framework is expected to encourage wide-spread adoption of the framework, despite it not being a requirement by FHWA.

Research Team:
Principal Investigator: Matthew Reyes & Somik Ghosh
Co-Principal Investigator: N/A
Research Assistant:  Alexander Smith, Kade Snodgrass

Previous Progress Reports:
December 2022 Progress Report

June 2023 Progress Report