What We Can Learn from CII

by Adrian Saldanha, P.E., PMP

Last month, PCL Houston hosted representatives from the Construction Industry Institute (CII) at our offices in Katy, Texas. Dr. Mike Pappas and Eric Crivella led us in an Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) workshop, then Pappas presented on the value and benefits of CII membership to PCL’s district leadership.

So, what is CII? CII is an industry-academia research organization housed at the University of Texas at Austin. Established in 1983, CII has grown to include a consortium of over 140 owners, contractors and service-providers, including PCL, which is a full member.

CII establishes research groups that comprise of members from industry and academia. Industry members provide invaluable experience and knowledge from actual projects, and academia members ensure that the final report is supported by robust research principles. This results in findings that are practical, credible and neutral.

AWP is one of their greatest achievements to date, with roots in the large projects that were the staple of the Canadian oil sands industry. In the late 2000s, CII and the Construction Owners Association of Alberta (COAA) established a joint research group to develop written guidelines for AWP.  RT-272 was the result of this collaboration, and their efforts led to the publication of several reports and guidelines for AWP.


The AWP workshop started with a question-burst exercise. The attendees were asked to share some of the biggest challenges faced when delivering capital projects. The points listed focused on the four parameters of safety, cost, schedule and quality. This discussion dovetailed into the next segment of the workshop that focused on how AWP intends to improve the chances of success on a project.

Some of the key AWP learnings for me was that this concept is not an entirely new creation. At the heart of AWP is the emphasis on defining and standardizing the communication interfaces between engineering, construction and procurement. AWP aims to define and encourage documentation of these interfaces along with tracking system to monitor work progress. Some of the next initiatives in the AWP research space is the establishment of specifications that set standards for “Digital Threads” and “Digital Twins”. Digital Threads describe the framework for connecting data streams across the lifecycle of a project. This data can eventually be used to make a Digital Twin of the project.

PCL is keen to continue and grow our involvement in CII and its research activities. This will give our employees the opportunity to learn from CII resources and contribute to the industry’s growing knowledge base. Some of the benefits of CII membership include:

The CII Knowledge Base

Use your Member organization email address to create an account on CII’s website. This will give you access to CII’s Knowledge Base and Online Learning Center. The Knowledge Base is a repository of information on numerous research topics that CII has investigated over the years.

The Online Learning Center will provide you with the opportunity to earn Professional Development Hours (PDH). Employees can learn about topics such as Constructability and Modularization and earn up to 18 PDH credits.


Sector Committees

CII is divided into five sector committees. Committee members meet on a monthly basis to discuss issues within their focus area, which include downstream and chemicals; facilities and healthcare; manufacturing and life sciences; power, utilities and infrastructure; and upstream, midstream and mining.

Communities for Business Advancement (CBA)

CBAs meet on a monthly basis to discuss the latest trends and initiatives within their focus area. A full list of these can be found here.

Get in touch with Bob Wible at robert.wible@cii.utexas.edu if you would like to join a CBA. This is a great opportunity for you to participate in discussions that drive the future of our industry. The meetings are online via GoTo meetings.

CII operates with the objectives of promoting the business effectiveness and sustainability of the capital facility lifecycle. They seek to achieve these objectives through the study of issues that impact and influence the capital projects community. It is important for PCL to be involved in such an organization to have our say and to also influence the direction of future initiatives that impacts its members. Some of the near-term benefits of CII membership can be realized by using the available online resources. Other benefits will take longer to manifest and will involve consistent attendance at committee meetings and discussion forums.

If you are keen on learning more about how to join a committee or access CII’s online resources, email Jenny Bien at jenny.bien@cii.utexas.edu. If you're with PCL, you're welcome to contact me directly at agsaldanha@pcl.com.

Date posted: February 17, 2020