CQV and Construction’s Symbiotic Relationship for Project Success

Commissioning, Qualification and Validation (CQV) and Construction Management (CM) share a symbiotic relationship that often defines the success or failure of projects in today’s fast-paced post-COVID environment. A mutually beneficial relationship between these two parties is a critical factor in ensuring project success, enhancing the client experience, and promoting best industry practices. This whitepaper explores how CQV and CM can operate in harmony to foster the successful delivery of projects, highlighting the role of systematic turnover, agreement on Mechanical Completion (MC) and the necessity of effective documentation.

Discuss how turnover will be managed with CM. What it is not is, “We’ll tell you when the system is done and send you the documents.” Turnover must be formal for GMP and contractual reasons and must be a process that each party agrees to, with documented expectations and responsibilities.

The first step is to define Mechanical Completion (MC), getting all parties to agree on the terms. This sounds obvious but the devil is in the details. And MC = the completion of both the physical installation + the pre-determined documentation. I say this because it is common to hear, “The system is complete, just some paperwork left. Don’t worry, we’ll get you that ASAP.” Then the documents never show up. If critical documents are not provided, then CQV is stuck with a system that can’t pass IOQ and the client either has to accept it with these deviations or get CM involved to possibly re-install/re-test. I have seen perfectly good components removed and identical ones re-installed because the originals didn’t have the required critical documents. Not a good situation for all parties – CM, CQV, PM, and the client. Author’s note – CM will sometimes push back on the idea that the definition of MC includes the documentation but my response is, “Yes, all the components are there and it matches the P&ID, but how do I know it was installed correctly without the testing documentation?”. For example, continuity checks prove the cabling has been verified as installed correctly, and this is part of CM’s scope.

The system must be accepted by CQV (and typically the client unless CQV is acting as a client proxy). It is a mistake to leave CQV out of the approval process for turnover as it will result in incomplete systems being accepted and delays in the CQV Phase. There is pressure to meet the schedule and move on to the next phase which is why this happens without CQV in the loop, but this is “kicking the can down the road” and it will result in even longer delays.  CM’s motivation to fix a problem with a system that has already been accepted is much less than one that is still in their ownership.

OK, so how does CQV help CM be successful (and therefore help CQV)?

  1. Testing documents – Make sure each contractor/subcontractor understands what is required of them, by craft: Electrical, Mechanical, Piping, etc. This will depend on the experience and quality of the contractor and their labor. We have had instances it was beneficial to provide training not only on Good Documentation Practices (GDP) but also on how to fill out the actual test sheets. This is not normally CQV scope but when the documents aren’t acceptable then something must be done. The first step should always be to discuss this with the CM, however.
  2. Insist on a dedicated Documentation Quality Manager from the CM. This person works closely with CQV as THE point of contact and is responsible for all aspects of document delivery. They understand what is needed to be acceptable and which documents are critical. Sidenote: an experienced CM will require this from each of their subs as well, but perhaps not as a dedicated role, depending on the size of the job.
  3. The Turnover Package – CTOP, ETOP, VTOP, whatever it is called for your project. This needs to be pre-defined for each system and includes both the type of documents and the number required for each system (for example, not “This system will include megger sheets.” But rather “This system will have 4 megger sheets.”) And the party responsible to perform this: the CM. Why CM? Because it’s in their scope – how do they know they have completed a system if they don’t know the type and number of each test sheet to complete? I have been told by the CM, “We want to know what documentation you need for each system.” Implying that the CTOP Table of Contents (ToC) is CQV’s responsibility. My response is always, “Only what you are contractually obligated to provide.” If the contract doesn’t include this (normally in the specs), then there is a problem because the CM scope has not been properly defined. Sidenote: This is my justification for involving CQV early in the project and having us review the RFPs and bids. Once the CM-provided CTOP ToC’s have been created, CQV should review them prior to system turnover to verify that they are correct.
  4. CQV should review the test sheets as the subs are completing them, not wait until everything is finished. This avoids issues at turnover by providing a way to give feedback to allow corrections early in the process. Some CMs/subs don’t like this practice, even though it ultimately benefits them, so it should be specified in the contracts.
  5. Walkdowns – The normal process for verifying the physical portion of MC is via walkdowns. The CM will set a schedule of when systems will be ready to be verified and send out invitations. At a minimum, the invitees should include the client and CQV. The CM also prepares the drawings for the walkdown, which includes all redlines. Most systems just have one walkdown with the P&ID’s, however depending on the makeup of the system there may be more than just piping: electrical, controls, and mechanical (layouts). Sidenote: Don’t let the walkdowns become a “works to go” list for the CM. If more than a few incomplete items are found then this is an issue that needs to be brought up. Presenting systems for final walkdown that are not complete is an indication of poor CM execution.

By embracing these best practices, CM and CQV can better collaborate toward the combined goal of project success. The key lies in understanding the shared responsibilities and integrating best industry practices in every step of the process, which ultimately leads to more effective project execution and a satisfied client.