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Application of Life Cycle Analysis

A Book Review by Manuel A. Garcia, PE.**

In our busy word of tight deadlines and fierce competition to secure a return on investment, or to prepare a proposal for a new project, we frequently shortchange ourselves, and our clients, with a less than rigorous approach to the task at hand.

Robert Prieto*, in his new book Application of Life Cycle Analysis in the Capital Assets Industry instills in us a keen awareness of the pitfalls, and opportunities, that await capital project delivery and operation.

Writing with clarity and overlooking few details, Mr. Prieto presents a thorough, in-depth approach to delivering capital investment success, in the short as well as in the long term.

This work is eminently relevant to today’s emphasis on hitting the mark along the triple bottom line. This work is about delivering projects that provide value to the investor and communities affected by the project’s location without shortchanging the future of a growing world.

Mr. Prieto starts out by keenly clarifying the concepts of life cycle analysis and life cycle costs, astutely guiding the reader to look beyond costs and focusing also on value and revenue streams.

No aspect of the project is overlooked, beginning with the revenue producing idea, guiding it through the permitting process, and effecting thorough project definition. The positive impact of early engagement of construction knowhow in the design process is highlighted, leaving little room to conceive execution of a project in other than a design-build basis or one of its variants.

Mr. Prieto’s strategic thinking pervades the work as the idea of a project is guided through front end planning and strategic procurement. No stone is left unturned as the project progresses through detail design and construction – and the task does not end there. This book continues into management of operations and maintenance, continually challenging the status quo as it seeks to optimize value delivery by the investment. By maintaining the big picture focus, the book continues into end of project life issues. At every step of the way the writer maintains a 360 degree outlook on the ever changing project landscape enticing deep thinking into the additional value that a project can deliver through its life cycle when a thorough plan is put in place that allows for course corrections to meet continuous challenges.

This book is not a pronouncement on asset management theory but a useful guide to delivery of capital projects that provide top performance with the resilience to survive unplanned events. The strategic approach utilized by Mr. Prieto avoids tunnel vision and places projects within the context of a portfolio of capital assets and the synergistic opportunities for success (and failure) that this environment presents. The book introduces a series of practical approaches to define project performance expectations such as the 7DSM framework that provides perspectives for long-lived capital projects.

The book is easy to read and navigate and provides many checklists of principles for consideration and implementation along the project conception, execution, operations and final dissolution journey. For complex “giga” projects this approach allows the reader to implement the entire project development approach. For smaller and/or less complex projects, the reader can make specific selections to enhance project performance and deliver better value to customers.

With regards to the triple bottom line it is worth noting that in a humane yet dispassionate look at the social dimension, Mr. Prieto prompts the reader to recognize a couple of things when an asset is destined to remain in a community over a period of decades: 1) the hazards posed by the failure to consider the social impact of a project and 2) the benefits to be realized through development of local human resources.

In conclusion, this book broadens the perspectives of today’s project program managers by driving the focus into broad and deep strategic business objectives; it guides project managers in avoiding false tradeoffs and enhancing facility operations; and it leads operators into sound asset management protocols to safeguard the continued delivery of value by the assets that they manage.

It is very difficult to do justice through a book review to this thorough work delivered by a highly competent industry professional. My recommendation is for you to dive into this very readable book and discover a better way to conceive, plan, deliver and maintain capital assets.

*Robert Prieto is a senior vice president for Fluor where he focuses on the development and delivery of large, complex projects worldwide. He has also authored over 450 papers and presentations and has several patents pending in the areas of program management and life cycle design and analysis. Mr. Prieto has served on numerous national and international committees and taskforces looking at infrastructure delivery, funding and resiliency, large program management, and response to major events both natural and manmade. He is a member of the National Academy of Construction and a Fellow of the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA).

** Manuel A. Garcia, P.E.,is Associate Director for Professional Development and Implementation Strategy at the Construction Industry Institute (CII). His professional efforts are focused on improving the life cycle performance of capital projects by achieving outstanding results in the areas of safety, quality, schedule, cost, and operability. He has held key executive and senior management positions with constructor and owner organizations in engineering, construction, metal fabrication, and project management. He is a Civil Engineering graduate from North Carolina State University, a registered professional engineer in Texas and Florida, holds certified General and Mechanical Contracting Licenses in Florida, and is a member of CMAA.


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