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Your Software Solution for Evaluating Project Readiness

IPA research has firmly established that the quality of Front-End Loading (FEL) directly correlates with the outcomes of capital projects. The better the FEL, the more likely that a project will be a success. Unfortunately, few companies have the expertise or the impartiality to properly assess the quality of a project’s definition.

IPA’s FEL Toolbox allows companies to measure the quality of project definition for small capital projects ($10 million or less) that do not warrant a full IPA analysis. Rather than wonder how your small project stacks up against other projects in the industry, find out exactly where it stands with IPA’s FEL Toolbox.

What Is IPA’s FEL Toolbox?

IPA’s FEL Toolbox is a software solution developed by IPA to provide project teams with a ready-made, easy-to-use application to measure FEL. This software is for projects that are less than $10 million that represent the installation of capitalized, off-the-shelf material assets. FEL Toolbox can be used to evaluate small projects from their early stages to full-funds authorization, and serves as a guide for the project team throughout the FEL process.

Using FEL Toolbox, project teams can generate a composite FEL Index rating for their project and index ratings for the three FEL components—Site Factors, Engineering Status, and Project Execution Planning. The application provides recommendations to address specific gaps in these key areas, and it identifies the best ways to reduce risks to projects.

In addition, project teams can use FEL Toolbox to benchmark their project’s definition by comparing their project’s FEL rating with FEL ratings of similar projects in the industry and other projects executed by their company.


How Does FEL Toolbox Work?

Using an online questionnaire, project teams enter information that describes the project scope and the work that has been completed to date. The questionnaire includes “smart logic” that adapts the question to the type of project under consideration. The process is very simple, and an assessment can be generated in just a few hours using only information obtained from key project members. The assessment includes:

  • An FEL Index for their project, as well as a rating for the three components that make up the composite FEL Index: Site Factors, Engineering Status, and Project Execution Planning
  • Detailed recommendations for improvement that are linked both to the type of project and the specific elements that may affect the project’s chances of success
  • Key Best Practices identified by IPA from over 20 years of project research, which are highlighted when there are opportunities for use by the team

How Does FEL Toolbox Assess Front-End Loading?

FEL Toolbox measures FEL for small projects on a scale that combines the following three separate components:

  1. Site Factors—Measures the completeness of work on a set of four site-specific items, including general equipment arrangements, site-specific environmental and regulatory requirements, site-specific health and safety requirements, and geotechnical data.
  2. Engineering Status—Measures the degree to which a set of key engineering tasks has been completed, including heat and material balances, process flow diagrams, piping and instrumentation diagrams, single-line electrical diagrams, and major equipment specifications, and tracks the review of those deliverables by the necessary stakeholders. Engineering status also assesses the quality of the engineering cost estimate.
  3. Project Execution Planning—Covers key areas of project and business objectives, including the roles and responsibilities of the team, contracting strategy, project controls, schedule development, plans for execution and control, and startup and commissioning definition.

Each of the components is weighted to generate an FEL Index on a 3 to 12 scale, with higher numbers reflecting poorer definition.

What Can FEL Toolbox Do for My Project Team?

Our software provides the following features and benefits:

  • A quick, systematic method to evaluate the level of project definition for small projects that is based on 20 years of research and data from a number of different industries
  • A more consistent basis of comparison for FEL than other available checklists because IPA’s methodology quantitatively links practices to best-in-class cost and schedule outcomes for capital projects.
  • Written reports that contain standardized project information, including a specific roadmap to mitigate the risks presented by gaps in project definition and that are suitable for inclusion in any project’s gate package
  • Online access capability with a dedicated secure server to ensure system compatibility, facilitate value-adding upgrades, and protect your company and project data
  • The ability to zero in on the exact issues that routinely plague a project system—this information can be fed back to the business and be used to identify commonalties in the project system 
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