The first stage of front end planning (FEP-1) is moving the project from an idea to a project starting point. It is taking the idea and building the project charter and studying the feasibility and economics of the proposed project. FEP-1 stage takes the project from an idea to the next gate to get management approvals on funding for the next stage. Usually, the funding is not a large amount and, in most cases, it is part of the project expenses not the capital funding. Expense funding authorized by the end of FEP-1 would be enough for running the project team through FEP-2. There are some exceptions, of course, if the project has a very tight schedule. In this case, the funding might include the placement of major well-identified long lead equipment.
FEP-1 is very specific to owner companies and it is hard to find a corresponding stage for EPC, engineering service, or contractor companies. If one of these companies is initiating their own improvement project or their own internal expansion, the FEP-1 would apply to them.
The scheduler has two roles in this stage:
- To develop a schedule for the FEP-1 stage to take the project from an idea to the next gate to get management approvals on funding the next stage.
- To develop overall project schedule scenarios and what-if analysis. This is not a typical scheduling job. It is more of a planning job that might be supported by scheduling knowledge and tools.
This is a very straight forward schedule that lists all the steps needed to perform the FEP-1 stage which again is taking the project from idea to the next gate. Steps here might as follows:
- Clearly identify project objectives
- Develop a preliminary scope definition
- Develop Class 5 estimate
- Define project durations
- Develop project economics
- Write the project charter
- Identify project management team (PMT)
This is not a comprehensive list of steps for performing FEP-1. This is just an example and each company will have its own list of steps that fulfil this stage. The figure below shows an example of an FEP-1 schedule in Primavera P6©. As shown in the figure, it is more of a check list but assigned start and finish date for the purpose of tracking the progress of each of the tasks.
Project Schedule at FEP-1 Stage
As mentioned in the article of Rolling-Wave Planning, the cost estimate at this stage will be a class 5 estimate as defined by the AACE Recommended Practice 104R-19. This estimate usually has an accuracy range of minus 50% to plus 100%. The schedule duration calculated for the project will follow the same steps. The definition of the project duration at this stage is based most of the time on benchmarking. However, unlike the cost estimate, it is not the best way to calculate the total cycle time or the execution duration of the project. Project drivers, execution constraints, and project risks are better in making a duration prediction. The planner/schedule will put these factors together on a simple one-page Gantt chart to study their impact on each other and develop a Level-1 schedule that corresponds to Class 5 estimate. These factors will be covered in the following paragraphs then examples of Level 1 schedules will be shown.
The next article will be devoted to the schedule at FEP-1 stage including an explanation of project drivers and constraints.