Engineering & Construction Project Startup



By Bob Prieto

Jupiter, Florida, USA



This paper looks at engineering and construction project startup for three different project execution approaches. While specific to this industry, project professionals in other industries may find it is a good analog for their own efforts.

The paper underscores that:

  • Large complex projects require strong foundations
  • A day at the beginning of a project is just as valuable as a day at the end
  • Strong project foundations are built during project startup
  • Vertical startup is enabled by the use of a dedicated startup team
  • Project startup should consider lessons learned on other projects

This paper addresses project startup for three general types of contracts:

  • Pure design or engineering contracts typically performed for the Owner
  • Design/build contracts performed for the Owner but recognizes that engineering may be undertaken by an engineering subcontractor within the D/B team
  • Pure construction contract

The underlying philosophy laid out in this paper is one of a vertical launch built on strong foundations. The use of a dedicated project startup team is recommended and the potential scope of such a team is reflected by the items in red. The scope may be larger or smaller and the highlight is intended to suggest possibilities and underscore the concept of a project startup team.

The startup period may be thought of as the first 90 days although in some fast track projects it may be significantly shorter. At the bid stage a project startup schedule should be prepared as a sanity check on the overall schedule and as a way to confirm scope has been comprehensively addressed.

The table is best read column by column, for the particular contract type envisioned.  Contracts and projects can have infinite variety and as such this should be viewed as a starting point.

This paper is best used in conjunction with the various lessons learned executive insights that may be found at the National Academy of Construction website[1].


To read entire paper, click here

How to cite this paper: Prieto, R. (2020). Engineering & Construction Project Startup; PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue IX, September.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/pmwj97-Sep2020-Prieto-engineering-and-construction-project-startup.pdf



About the Author

Bob Prieto

Chairman & CEO
Strategic Program Management LLC
Jupiter, Florida, USA


 Bob Prieto is a senior executive effective in shaping and executing business strategy and a recognized leader within the infrastructure, engineering and construction industries. Currently Bob heads his own management consulting practice, Strategic Program Management LLC. He previously served as a senior vice president of Fluor, one of the largest engineering and construction companies in the world. He focuses on the development and delivery of large, complex projects worldwide and consults with owners across all market sectors in the development of programmatic delivery strategies. He is author of nine books including “Strategic Program Management”, “The Giga Factor: Program Management in the Engineering and Construction Industry”, “Application of Life Cycle Analysis in the Capital Assets Industry”, “Capital Efficiency: Pull All the Levers” and, most recently, “Theory of Management of Large Complex Projects” published by the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) as well as over 700 other papers and presentations.

Bob is an Independent Member of the Shareholder Committee of Mott MacDonald. He is a member of the ASCE Industry Leaders Council, National Academy of Construction, a Fellow of the Construction Management Association of America and member of several university departmental and campus advisory boards. Bob served until 2006 as a U.S. presidential appointee to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC), working with U.S. and Asia-Pacific business leaders to shape the framework for trade and economic growth. He had previously served as both as Chairman of the Engineering and Construction Governors of the World Economic Forum and co-chair of the infrastructure task force formed after September 11th by the New York City Chamber of Commerce. Previously, he served as Chairman at Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) and a non-executive director of Cardno (ASX)

Bob can be contacted at rpstrategic@comcast.net.

To view other works by Bob Prieto, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/bob-prieto/


[1] https://www.naocon.org/insights/