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Roger Lewis

Roger Lewis

Hi, I’m Roger Lewis. I’m the developer of ProjXsense, our web-based system for engineering management and document control.

You are obviously here because you’re interested in managing the documentation and information generated within your company or on your projects. The information posted herein explains how my product can help you achieve your documentation management objectives. If you are unable to find the information you need, please feel free to contact me.

The application was first envisioned sometime in the year 2000. My objective in developing the application was at the time very straightforward. I simply wanted to have an online source, easily accessible by employees, clients and third parties, for storage and retrieval of my engineering documents. (You see, I was at the time an engineering project manager working on major design projects within the oil and gas industry. See my bio).

A Tool for Engineering Management and Document Control

ProjXsense has, through years of development and listening to users and prospective clients, evolved into what I believe is truly a most useful tool with a very comprehensive set of features. These include such capabilities as:

Document Management – An intuitively implemented system for organizing your documents that stores thousands of documents of all types by group, category, and/or subcategory and enables instant search and retrieval by a host of user defined attributes.
Transmittal Management – A highly flexible system that automates the entire process of transmitting and tracking document submittals. The process includes the creation, scheduling, distribution, notification, acknowledgement, tracking, monitoring, searching, forwarding, and reporting of transmittals. It also includes an automated print ordering and distribution system that allows you to order and deliver by any delivery method to anyone, anywhere, individual hard copy print orders of any quantity, size, type, and binding. This is a real time saver!
Document Workflow – This newly added feature handles any type of workflow process without having to create cumbersome flow diagrams or sets of electronic rules. A log at all times displays in color coded format the due date and status of each process. Clicking on the due date brings up a form with which workflow participants can review the entire history of the process, what is being worked on, who is working on it, and the status of each individual’s contribution.
Engineering Task Tracking – Automatically track progress and the completion of deliverables by linking deliverables to individual tasks and project milestones.
Vendor Documentation Tracking – Automatically track progress and the completion of required vendor documents by linking the deliverables to individual documentation requirements and contract milestones.
Assignment and Monitoring of Action Items – Create action items and assign accountability on the fly, and automatically monitor their progress. Easily create rules for document workflow, and monitor the progress of document creation throughout its lifecycle.
Email Management – A highly sophisticated system of categorizing and organizing email. Takes email communications to a new level.
Team Collaboration – Real time, online collaboration on project documents saves time and increases productivity. Use the built-in procedures for annotating documents directly in your browser.
Progress Reporting – Automatically generate weekly and monthly progress reports of expenditures and project progress.
Document Transfer – Facilitates the transfer of custody of document files from the engineer to others. Automatically generates a customizable index of file attributes that enables the document files to be linked to other electronic file systems, for instance when files are to be used for ongoing operations and maintenance of a facility.
Knowledge Management – Easily organize and store knowledge based issues such as lessons learned and FAQs for future reference.
Productivity Enhancement – System features are shown to increase productivity significantly.

ProjXsense actually consists of two products: 1) The Company, or Multi-Project site that is suitable for multiple, low fee (less than $500k) projects, and 2) the Dedicated Project Site that is suitable for larger (greater than $500k) projects. Please don’t take those fee limitations too seriously, but take a look at the following executive summaries for these products. They give brief explanations of the purpose, features, benefits, and advantages of each.

Executive Summary for the Dedicated Project Site

Executive Summary for the Company Site

Use these summaries to help form an initial assessment of whether these products are right for you. Then, if you’re having difficulty deciding which of the hundreds of available applications you want to go with, check out our Evaluation Guideline. We discuss your alternatives for documentation and information management in depth.  If you’d like to see how our product compares to another application gaining prominence in the industry, check out A Comparison to CoreWorx.

To fully evaluate our system, refer to our FAQs and the additional information, including pricing, on the About page. And of course check out the hands-on demonstrations accessed from the Demos page. Finally, if you are concerned about ROI, you may be interested in calculating the Potential Savings that can be realized from using our system.

Why We’re Different

We are different. Whereas most competing products are complex, inflexible, and expensive, ours is simple, easily customizable, and very low cost. You will note our tagline, “Intuitive Communications”. This is what I believe is a major distinction between our products and those of our competitors. Unlike many competing products, our interface truly is intuitive. By that I mean users will not have to undergo training to fully utilize this product. A couple of hours of orientation may be necessary, but many competing products require week-long training programs to educate users into the operation of their applications. These necessary training programs, which, according to some, simply confirm the complexity of those applications, are extremely expensive, often costing thousands of dollars per user.

When it comes to system adaptability, the difference here is that our system is easily customizable to suit customer requirements whereas most competing products can not be modified at all.

And finally there is cost. ProjXsense has a total cost of ownership orders of magnitude less than the competition. In fact, when comparing our total cost of ownership to that of systems like those offered by Documentum, LiveLink, FileNet, ProjecTools, and EnterpriseEngineer to name a few, you may find that they can be up to 50 times more costly.

The Next Step

Our goal is to make ProjXsense the engineering management application of choice for the engineering community. We anticipate the need for additional features and future enhancements to our application, but believe they should be dictated by customer demand. To that end, if you are considering using our application but find that it is lacking features or enhancements that you require to meet your operational objectives, please let us know either by contacting me directly or by posting a comment below (click the comment link), and we will certainly do our best to implement your desires.

Thanks for visiting.

Roger Lewis

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Do you ever feel that your procurement operations are at times just too overwhelming? Are there just too many products with too many problems being purchased from too many vendors in too short a time frame with too few personnel to handle the load? If so, we are willing to bet that inadequate communications is likely the problem. We see the solution to this nightmare as being one of simply addressing this issue, i.e. communications, more effectively. That is, we think the solution is to do more to ensure that all parties to the procurement contract know explicitly what their responsibilities are, are aware of when their commitments are due, and realize that they will be held accountable for their performance. In essence, tell people what you want and when you want it, and then follow up by monitoring their implementation.

The online-projects’ procurement system is a way of better managing the individual tasks involved in purchasing materials, equipment, and services, so as to ensure that those materials, equipment, and services are supplied according to the specifications in a timely and cost effective manner.

We believe that one of the keys to a successful procurement strategy is in having properly prepared specifications that stipulate in detail the vendor’s reporting requirements (i.e. documentation, inspection, and testing), and then monitoring the vendor’s compliance with those reporting requirements. Our system facilitates this process.

In the following sections we explain how by using our system, each step of the procurement process, from creation of the initial specification through acceptance of the product on site, can be effectively tracked and monitored, thus assuring a smoothly operating procurement operation.

Table of Contents

Specifications

Requisitions

Bid Inquiries

Products

Purchase Orders

Expediting

Delivery

Installation

Testing and Inspection

Acceptance

 

Specifications   top

Specifications created during the engineering design phase form the fundamental basis of the procurement phase. If the requirements for vendor documentation, inspection, and testing are properly and adequately stipulated, the task of administering the purchase order becomes much less demanding. Our procurement system uses these vendor reporting requirements as the basis for defining a set of tasks with which to monitor vendor progress and compliance with the specifications.

Requisitions   top

Requisitions – the engineer’s request to procurement to initiate a purchase order – can take any form, allowing a firm to use its own system. Requisitions are uploaded and stored with the appropriate bid inquiry. They may be routed for approval, if required, during the development stage using our document workflow system.

Bid Inquiries   top

Bid Inquiries are handled in the documentation system like mini, self-contained projects. Each inquiry is assigned a number, i.e. the RFQ number. From a documentation standpoint all information and documentation pertaining to the inquiry is linked to that RFQ number. Retrieving information about or documentation on an inquiry becomes a simple matter of searching on just that RFQ number.

Inquiries are created or “opened” using information from the engineering requisition. This information becomes a permanent part of the inquiry record which includes:

• Descriptive Information – The RFQ Number, title, and scope and description of the inquiry

• Categorization Parameters – A category and subcategory, if applicable, and a general status, i.e. open, closed, or on hold.

• References – The RFQ Manager and reference to a PO number.

• A Milestone Schedule – An important part of the inquiry is its schedule which may be set by direct date selection or by lead time referenced to an ROS date. With the lead time method, you enter the ROS date. Milestones, including Issue to Procurement, Issue to Vendors, Close Bids, Technical Evaluation, Technical Recommendation, Issue PO, and Required On Site are then automatically calculated and tracked via a color-coded monitoring system. Other milestones may be generated at the user’s option.

• Vendors and Bid Lists – Vendors are selected from previously established and maintained lists of approved vendors. Bidders lists are displayed and may be optionally shown to all on the bid list.

• Contractual Information – Included are the contract type, the budget, whether or not an AFE has been approved, and any special contractual considerations.

• Notes and Lessons Learned – Notes or lessons learned throughout the course of the inquiry or during the purchase negotiation phase are easily documented and become readily available for future reference.

• Documentation – Inquiry documentation is organized by RFQ number and includes vendor correspondence and minutes of meetings as well as the inquiry package itself. The documentation is searchable by many parameters including document type, number, category, key word, status, and much more.

Products   top

Products (i.e. materials, equipment, supplies, and services) are what make up the procurement scope. Products are organized by category to simplify their association with vendors. A product library, which can be transferred from project to project, is created from which an approved vendor list is generated. The approved vendor list is used in the selection of bidders that are included on bid inquiries.

Purchase Orders   top

Purchase orders are handled like bid inquiries, i.e. like mini, self-contained projects. Each PO is assigned a number and is cross-referenced to its RFQ number. From a documentation standpoint all information and documentation pertaining to a PO is automatically linked to the PO number. Retrieving information about or documentation on a PO becomes a simple matter of searching on just that PO number. In the purchase order section of the web site, authorized personnel can open a new purchase order (i.e., identify and describe the basic information about a purchase order); retrieve summary information about each purchase order; intuitively search for and retrieve any purchase order document; and update the information about each P.O. and its documentation

A purchase order is created or “opened” using information from its respective bid inquiry. This information becomes a permanent part of the PO record which includes:

• Descriptive Information – The PO Number, title, and scope and description of the purchase order.

• Categorization Parameters – A category and subcategory, if applicable, and a general status, i.e. cancelled, issued, on hold, or pending.

• References – The vendor’s name and contact; the PO manager, engineering representative, and inspector; and the cross-reference to the RFQ number.

• A Milestone Schedule – An important part of the purchase order is its schedule. Milestones for Award, Start Work, and Completion of Work must be set when creating a new purchase order; however, optional additional milestones may also be set. Setting milestones forms the basis of tracking the vendor’s required deliverables, i.e. the documentation, inspection, and testing requirements that are stipulated in the product specifications.

• Contractual Information – Included are the contract type, the budget, and any special contractual considerations.

• Notes and Lessons Learned – Notes or lessons learned throughout the course of the contract are easily documented and become readily available for future reference.

• Documentation – Purchase order documentation is organized by purchase order number and includes correspondence and minutes of meetings as well as all required vendor data. The documentation is searchable by many parameters including document type, number, category, vendor documentation requirement, and much more.

Expediting   top

Several methods or tools used for expediting a purchase are available within the online-projects’ procurement system.

• Monitoring Deliverables – Monitoring deliverables is an effective means of ensuring that contractual requirements are met. An advantage of accurately monitoring deliverables is that their submittal can then be used as a basis of payment. The types of deliverables normally produced as part of a purchase order contract include:

       o Required Vendor Documents – Required vendor documents are the documents that a vendor is required to submit as a condition of the purchase order. The submittal requirements for these documents are normally specified in the Document Requirements Sheets (DRS) of the engineering specifications. There may be up to three submittals required for each document that is produced by the vendor: For Approval, As Certified, and As Built. Progress on each submittal is tracked through a color-coded system that ties delivery to a scheduled milestone date.
  o Inspection and Testing Requirements – Inspection and testing documents are deliverables that report the results of inspections and tests required as a condition of the purchase order. The submittal requirements for these documents are normally specified in the Inspection and Testing Requirements Sheets (ITRS) of the engineering specifications. The vendor schedules the inspections and tests by providing, within a pre-specified number of days notice, a scheduled start date and completion date for each inspection and test. The vendor must input this data into the procurement system. The timing of the actual inspections and tests can then monitored using a color-coded tracking system. Documents that are used to report the results of inspections and tests are scheduled to be submitted within a specified number of days of completion of the inspections and tests. These documents, the number required for each inspection and test, when they are due, and whether they have been accepted or approved by the owner or engineer, are also automatically tracked in color-coded format.

• Expediting Contact Reports – These reports can be as simple as a telephone contact record, but there must be an effective way in which to document and archive the records for future reference. The procurement system makes it easy to add reports to the database and displays them in chronological format, editable and suitable for printing.

• The Email System – Because the email system organizes all email communications automatically by purchase order number and category, using email to resolve purchasing issues is not only feasible but is also quite practical. Since the thread of each subject or topic is always kept intact, issues are resolved more readily and with less confusion, and traceability is effectively and accurately maintained.

• The Action List – Creating an action item can be a valuable tool for expediting an effort to mitigate a problem, control an emergency situation, or simply to get a critical question answered. Action items associated with a PO may be created on the fly and assigned to any registered user of the procurement system. These action items are automatically organized by PO number with direct, intuitive links from various locations in the system making it easy to stay up to date with one’s daily responsibilities.

Delivery   top

Delivery of materials, equipment, and supplies may be tracked by simply monitoring the vendor’s documentation requirements for packing, loadout, shipping, transportation, and receipt at the delivery point. Each document that is associated with delivery is tracked in color-coded format. Problem areas are automatically highlighted providing early warning of delays.

Installation   top

Installation of equipment may also be tracked by monitoring those vendor documentation requirements that ensure completion of tasks such as proper placement of equipment and hook-up and commissioning. Installation is complete when the documentation confirming installation is complete and has been submitted and accepted by the owner or engineer.

Testing and Inspection   top

Testing and inspection may be tracked by monitoring the requirements for vendor documentation covering issues such as appearance and workmanship, completion of materials, elimination of safety hazards, dimensional tolerances, inspection of welds, worker qualification, visual quality inspections, etc. Again, testing and inspection is complete when the results of all required tests and inspections have been reported, submitted, and approved by the owner or engineer.

Acceptance   top

Acceptance may be tracked by monitoring the vendor documentation requirements pertaining to performance testing, final paint and finishes, parts lists, warranty documents, maintenance manuals, and the like. Only after final acceptance documentation has been received and approved by the owner or engineer will final payments be made.

In Conclusion   top

We believe that a successful procurement operation is all about effective communications, but to enable that to happen requires generating and monitoring the proper documentation. If a PO includes a specification that adequately stipulates what documentation is needed to verify compliance with the specification, and if a system is established that allows expedient monitoring of that documentation, there is every reason to believe that the order will be executed satisfactorily with few if any problems. Our system makes it easy to define, track, monitor, and manage the documentation and each of the numerous tasks and activities that are a part of any purchase order.