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What Is Project Commissioning?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Project commissioning is a series of processes for making sure that a project performs safely and as expected before the time of delivery to the end recipient. This can involve a number of personnel from the project development team and requires completion of a myriad of steps. Commissioning can start at the earliest stages of the project with the planning phase, where the team discusses the goal of the project and sets up a schedule, timeline, and budget to meet the goal.

In the planning phase, project commissioning can involve setting up a rubric for assessing progress at various stages and keeping the project on track. If the client is a university building a new science laboratory, for example, the first step would be outlining what kinds of facilities the university needs, and project commissioning can include researching building codes and soliciting feedback from university staff members to find out what kinds of facilities are needed and to develop a plan for building them.

As the project moves out of planning and the development team starts to work on it, project commissioning continues. Personnel will periodically assess the project to see if the needs and goals remain the same and to confirm that the development is staying on target. As issues come up, they must be resolved, and these can include the need to address new project requests or failure to properly accommodate a goal during the planning stages.

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Once the project is complete, project commissioning moves into the final stage with a rigorous check and investigation of all the systems in the project to see if they function properly. Ideally, as systems are implemented, the developers will test them, but they need to check again at the finish. In something like a building, this includes tasks like flicking all the light switches, summoning the elevators, and adjusting thermostats to test heating and cooling systems. It can also involve pushing systems to their limits to see how they respond, such as loading an elevator to the maximum stated capacity and then measuring its performance.

This approach to quality control is not just useful for new projects. Project commissioning is also valuable for rehabilitation and renovation of existing projects. The same series of steps provides continuous feedback on the progress of the project. In the planning stages, team members can discuss what they want to do, how they plan to accomplishment it, and the methods they may use to measure success. During project development they will continually reassess, and they will finish with a thorough audit of the project before handing it off to the recipient.

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