Different types of project
There are two basic types of project and this affects how the project is managed.
These can be called the “Large plant” and “Distributed” project types.
It is important to understand which type of project you are working in at an early stage as this affects which IT tool to choose for interface management - these tend to be optimised to work with one type or the other - not both.
The core difference is that the scope in Distributed projects can be divided up in maps - like countries with borders between them (the battery limits). Large plant projects have overlapping scopes of work - multiple contractors working on the same location or equipment, at different times or even at the same time.
For example a large process plant. All contractors on one site - within a firewall - often with overlapping scope of work (SOW) on the same module. These modules are sometimes defined as interface points in the software used by these projects, although 'interface point' may have a more specific meaning.
Each module is shown by a grey box, and each contractor's work is shown in a colour - so red might be electrical; blue might be pipework.
For example a new oil platform tying in to existing infrastructure - the existing platform in grey, with new modifications shown in red. The new facility has a process topsides shown in blue; sitting on a steel jacket shown in yellow; and a pipeline shown in green. The riser from the topsides to the pipeline is shown in dashed green - it might well be constructed and installed by other contractors.
Here contractors may work far apart and their SOW does not overlap - the interfaces between different contractors is at a battery limit - shown by the dashed black lines. Most technical issues relate to how the different scopes of work meet at the battery limit, with the rest of the SOW only being relevant to the contractor performing it..
Usually interface points are not of interest, but a system that works seamlessly over the internet is essential.
This article was based on part of a presentation given at a conference in 2014 by John Thropp. It was edited in February 2019.