Rethinking Interface Management



By Bob Prieto

Jupiter, Florida


Today’s infrastructure and facilities are “smart”. At least that is our objective as we seek to enhance lifecycle performance and capital efficiency. These “smart” facilities transcend any given sector and bring new challenges to the engineering and construction industry. In some ways our more traditional projects are today outcomes focused or capabilities delivering IT projects with bits of concrete and steel wrapped around them!

This “smart” focus is not limited to just a technology and systems dimension but goes further, demanding an increased and increasing environmental, social and governance (ESG)[i][ii] focus as well. Together “smart” and ESG create a greatly expanded set of interfaces for program and project managers to manage. These interfaces, both familiar and new, include:

  • Physical
    • Systems, structures, components (existing and new)
    • Supply chain and logistical
    • Intermediate and final states
  • Digital
    • Information/signaling
    • Digital twin (design and construction models)
    • Operating models
    • Enterprise asset models
  • Human
    • Users (internal to project execution team)
    • Stakeholders[iii] (External to project execution team)
  • Governance[iv], management, and decision making
    • Communication
    • Contractual – recognize that interfaces may span many contracts and agreements
    • Regulatory and reporting

These interfaces require changed perspectives with respect to:

  • Constraints[v], emerging and changing over time
  • Assumptions, activity and timing sensitive, also changing over time
  • Coupling[vi] (immediate and lagged)
  • Life cycle phase (planning; engineering; construction; startup and testing; commissioning; operating, including maintenance; end of life/decommissioning)

Importantly, these interfaces include both direct and nested interfaces. Additionally, a system of systems perspective must pervade our thinking recognizing that many of the elements above are themselves part of other, broader systems.

Interface management in this expanded context requires increased attention and different constructs to prior interface management efforts primarily focused on physical or other more direct, one-to-one interfaces. The complexity of interface management requires a step change.


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How to cite this work: Prieto, R. (2021). Rethinking Interface Management, PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue VIII, August. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/pmwj108-Aug2021-Prieto-Rethinking-Interface-Management.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 800 other papers and presentations.

Bob is an Independent Member of the Shareholder Committee of Mott MacDonald and a member of the board of Dar al Riyadh. 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 is a member of the Millennium Challenge Corporation advisory board where he had previously served. 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 serves as an honorary global advisor for the PM World Journal and Library and 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/


[i] Prieto, R. (2021). Reversing Global Warming; PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue III, March; https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/pmwj103-Mar2021-Prieto-Reversing-Global-Warming.pdf
[ii] Prieto, R. (2012). Application Of Life Cycle Analysis in the Capital Assets Industry; Second Edition; PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue II, February 2021; https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/pmwj102-Feb2021-Prieto-life-cycle-analysis-in-capital-assets-industry.pdf
[iii] Stakeholder Management in Large Engineering & Construction Programs; PM World Today; October 2011
[iv] Prieto, R. (2021). Governance: Key to Successful Program Management Delivery; PM World Journal; Second Edition; May; https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/pmwj105-May2021-Prieto-Governance-the-key-to-successful-progam-management-delivery-2nd-ed.pdf
[v] Assumption Risk Driver and Constraint Tracking; National Academy of Construction Executive Insight; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340949729_Assumption_Risk_Driver_and_Constraint_Tracking_Key_Points
[vi] Coupling in Large Complex Projects; National Academy of Construction Executive Insight; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342452306_Large_Complex_Projects_Coupling_in_Large_Complex_Projects_Key_Points