Robert Prieto

Robert Prieto
Strategic Program Management LLC

Master of Science
Looking for another engineering, construction or construction technology board role.

About

283
Publications
88,347
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142
Citations
Citations since 2016
188 Research Items
87 Citations
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201620172018201920202021202201020304050
201620172018201920202021202201020304050
Additional affiliations
April 1983 - May 2003
Parsons Brinckerhoff
Position
  • CEO

Publications

Publications (283)
Article
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• Strong foundations are required for large complex project success. • Strong foundations begin with clearly articulated strategic business objectives (SBOs). • These SBOs must be agreed to and continuously communicated.
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Large, complex engineering and construction programs may be found in all industry sectors. Such projects range from extractive industries such as oil, gas, and mining to infrastructure programs for transportation, water, and power. Common to all of these is the potential to influence financial, social, and environmental performance of the implement...
Article
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Life cycle asset management is an area of growing focus and importance across all industries. This life cycle focus must not only be “cradle to grave,” but also holistic, addressing each of the triple bottom lines. This Executive Insight, published by the National Academy of Construction, looks at one aspect of this life cycle asset management appr...
Article
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An essential question is: What are the roles and responsibilities that project and program managers have with respect to global climate change? This is a challenging question. Likely, it will be an increasingly important one for the next 50 years and beyond. The question can be posed to reflect the efforts needed to address climate change and eve...
Article
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Strategic business objectives represent the fundamental business drivers in a well-executed program. Not all programs, however, are well executed. It is therefore essential to have an understanding of how the selection and translation of SBOs into program strategy and execution affect program performance and outcomes. This relationship has been de...
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The industry collectively accounts for 39 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions with construction (versus facility lifetime operations) accounting for 11 percent globally. If true greenhouse gas reduction is to be achieved, the construction industry will have to lead the way. The growing focus on ESG (environmental, social and governance) has...
Article
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The planning and management of construction execution is a key driver of project success. It begins with project initiation and arguably earlier at the proposal stage. The emphasis of construction execution activities changes as the project progresses through various phases. This Executive Insight, published by the National Academy of Construction...
Article
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This Executive Insight provides a view on some of the barriers to productivity that exist, especially in large complex projects. More granular, field-level viewpoints, on productivity are equally important, but are not covered here. The listing that follows is most certainly not complete, but reflects the author’s experiences
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Previously, an Executive Insight entitled Barriers to Productivity provided a view on some of the barriers to productivity that exist, especially in large complex projects. More granular, field-level viewpoints on productivity were not covered in that Executive Insight and instead are the subject of this Executive Insight, which enumerates many fac...
Article
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Construction productivity has been a perennial problem faced by the construction industry. In this Executive Insight the following topics will be addressed: • What is productivity? • What are the challenges productivity creates and how have those challenges changed? • What are strategic actions to take to improve productivity? • What are tactical a...
Article
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Knowledge management is the process of creating, sharing, using, and managing knowledge and information. It refers to a comprehensive, holistic, and multidisciplinary approach to achieving organizational objectives by making the best use of knowledge. This Executive Insight looks at: • What knowledge is. • Telltale signs indicating the need for kn...
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This Executive Insight looks at the traditional responsibilities assigned to project administration and how emerging technologies may change or even eliminate many of the activities currently performed. The first section segregates responsibilities between a home office function and a site-based function. This construct is arbitrary and, on large c...
Book
The National Academies has issued a report entitled “Effectiveness and Efficiency of Defense Environmental Cleanup Activities of the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management: Report 2”. This report focuses on specific DOE-EM sites to assess how effective the management of the numerous projects at the sites is contributing to the wi...
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This Executive Insight, published by the National Academy of Construction, focuses on enterprise risks and their management in the engineering and construction (E&C) industry. The industry has lagged in the adoption of strong enterprise risk management systems and processes. Many of the ERM systems the industry put in place fail to recognize the f...
Article
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Across industries, digital transformation is changing the supply chain more than any other functional area. It is driving efficiency and resiliency to disruption. The supply chain is transitioning to a "thinking" supply chain, one broadly and tightly connected to all data sources. In industry after industry, it is enabled with Big Analytics, provid...
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Global events are reshaping energy flows and driving a rethink of what the future power fleet will look like in the short, medium, and longer term. Interest in renewables has strengthened in response to both the challenges to traditional energy supplies as well as decarbonization efforts to address global climate 2 change. Hydrogen as a fuel, ultim...
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This Executive Insight focuses on broader, more systemic opportunities for innovation. The same processes and thought patterns, however, will also deliver meaningful and important incremental innovations, some of which can be quite valuable. The hope is to view the universe of ideas and potential solutions more broadly upon completion of the readin...
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Cross-cultural research, methodologies, and studies abound and readers are encouraged to peruse the enormous resources available to gain an informed view of this important aspect of the engineering, design, and construction industries. From a strictly personal perspective, I will describe how I have seen cultural differences enter into negotiations...
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Cross-cultural factors are increasingly important in the conduct of the engineering and construction business and the execution of projects. Opportunities are global and the labor force increasingly multi-cultural. It is impossible in this Executive Insight to cover all cultures of interest, but hopefully the cultural factors laid out provide a gui...
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Large corporate organizations typically employ some form of matrix organization to share resources and ensure a consistent approach in key areas across the organization. The nature and extent of this matrix or functional organization will be driven by: • Common approaches to human resources • Consistent application of legal approvals and reviews of...
Presentation
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A Constructing You podcast that interviews Bob Prieto on Giga Projects, Strategic Program Management, Challenging Convention
Article
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In this paper we look at a new class of emerging risks affecting projects in the engineering and construction sector as well as the enterprises that undertake them. We define ESG and its scope. The environmental focus dives into climate change as a driver and the associated greenhouse gas protocol scopes are discussed from an engineering & construc...
Article
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Event contingency is an event, such as an emergency, that may―but is not certain to―occur. This Executive Insight focuses on this important element of an engineer’s or a constructor’s price. While event contingency is often considered from a provider’s perspective, it is equally important from an owner’s perspective in order to understand probable...
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This Executive Insight looks at escalation, which affects both current and yet to be issued construction contracts. It is intended to provide a framework for providing immediate relief to ongoing contracts and also as an outline for strategies for owners and contractors on yet to be issued contracts. Key materials of construction susceptible to esc...
Article
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Change orders are an inevitable part of construction projects. Change orders are revisions or additions to an existing construction or engineering contract and are used to modify the original agreement of the parties. Typically change orders are used to adjust scope, price, and/or schedule after the contract is executed. Change orders must meet pre...
Article
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This Executive Insight illustrates the range of innovations that are possible. They range from incremental innovations, focused on optimizing current systems and processes, and extend to breakthrough innovations, which have the effect of disrupting business models and markets. Incremental innovations include both unplanned improvements as well as i...
Article
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Large complex projects require a degree of management and granularity not often found in more traditionally sized projects. Often these projects, because of their scale, are in location-challenged settings. These may range from the North Slope of Alaska to the Outback of Australia to the urban core of major cities around the world. These location c...
Article
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Program management is about managing the challenges of scale and complexity. It is also about capturing the opportunities of leverage. In the engineering and construction sector, program management begins in front end engineering and design (FEED) and continues through the engineering and construction phase. Large programs in the engineering and co...
Article
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The focus of this paper is to look at enterprise risks and their management in the engineering and construction (E&C) industry. The E&C industry has lagged many other sectors in the adoption of strong enterprise risk management systems and processes and many of those that have been put in place fail to recognize the features which make this ind...
Article
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This Executive Insight focuses on the design of modules. Modularization and preassembly are construction techniques in which all or part of sections or facilities are prefabricated or assembled in one location and then transported to the site. The term modularization as used in this Executive Insight is intended to encompass a wide range, from prea...
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Parkinson’s Law can be seen in project performances where many tasks complete exactly on schedule with no real early finishes noted. This disparate behavior is even more significant in program settings where numerous multi-month or multi-year projects all finish exactly on schedule. Late finishes, however, do in fact occur. Parkinson’s Law also is...
Technical Report
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This report underpins a body of work done in the late '70s/ early 80's looking at locating nuclear power plants underground.
Article
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Potential acts of corruption during the project execution phase encompass a range of actions by a host of potential offenders. The various acts may carry criminal and civil penalties and include both the offending individuals as well as their organizations. Table 1 provides a set of examples to help readers understand the range of corrupt actions t...
Article
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Potential acts of corruption during the tender phase encompass a range of actions by a host of potential offenders. The various acts may carry both criminal and civil penalties and include both the offending individuals as well as their organizations. Table 1 provides a set of examples to help readers understand the range of corrupt actions which m...
Article
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Modularization represents a fundamentally different approach to project delivery compared to the more traditional "linear" stick-built approach to facility design, procurement, and construction. • The principle modularization driver is often schedule. • Focus on construction driven project execution by breaking traditional program precedence and co...
Presentation
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The National Academy of Construction has launched a new audio podcast series, “Get the kNACk”. The podcasts share NAC members’ collective wisdom and experience in solving some of the thorniest issues in construction. In this episode, Bob Prieto shares insights curated over 30 years in the construction industry. This episode is the first in the “Get...
Article
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Trust is the currency of relationships and by extension the management of people. It is slowly earned; accrues interest over time, growing in value; but is quickly lost. In most relationships trust building occurs over extended periods but also may be quickly built in the face of crisis or threat. We see this accelerated trust building after disast...
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This Executive Insight focuses on raising awareness and reinforcing attention to corruption, which may be one of the most corrosive factors impacting the construction industry. Corruption has been recognized as a significant concern and a recurring practice throughout the industry on a global scale. The industry has done much to raise awareness an...
Article
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Procurement in a program management organization represents a focused effort to improve overall program capital efficiency by seeking to capture the opportunities of leverage embedded in the program scale, simplify market complexities and risks by increasing their visibility, and enhancing management of programmatic supply risks by creating opportu...
Article
Public private partnerships are much like marriages. There are good ones, bad ones, and some which just seem to struggle forward. And similar to the outset of any new marriage, each party brings to the table different assets, with different senses of value and ownership. When each brings significant assets to the table, there may be a pre-nuptial a...
Article
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Recognize that correlations exist not only among cost elements in a project but among the cost elements in different projects in a program. • As correlation grows, the probabilistic cost distribution curve broadens (higher standard distribution), requiring higher budgets at a given confidence level. • As the number (n) of correlated activities in a...
Article
Full-text available
This article looks at the traditional responsibilities assigned to project administration and how emerging technologies may change or even eliminate many of the activities currently performed. The first section segregates responsibilities between a home office function and a site-based one. This construct is arbitrary and on large complex projects...
Article
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Major contributors to claims include lack of alignment (owner-contractor; owner's team; contractor's team); failure of owners to meet their obligations; unforeseen site conditions; inadequate change control; and poor contractor performance.
Article
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This article looks at the Mann Gulch disaster as an analog for how project teams perform when faced with significant and rapidly evolving events. While written from the perspective of engineering and construction projects the lessons are broadly applicable. The concept of sensemaking and its importance when regular processes are overwhelmed is expl...
Article
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Program Management involves dealing with a scale and complexity that goes well beyond that experienced in many projects. These challenges are compounded by new linkages across multiple projects; indirect inter-dependencies as a result of "constraint coupling"; and new risks and opportunities which may lurk in the white spaces between projects. The...
Article
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Fragility in project execution networks is defined as the ability to remain stable after perturbations at the "edges" of the project or to the internal network structure. • As fragility increases, the project's robustness or ability to handle a wide range of significant variations decreases. • Fragility emerges from increasing correlation across th...
Presentation
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Where are the opportunities for innovation? Where is innovation most needed? Where can innovation occur? The answer is the same for all three questions – EVERYWHERE! In this webinar I am going to focus my thoughts on broader, more systemic opportunities for innovation but the same processes and thought patterns will also deliver meaningful and imp...
Presentation
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Script associated with Innovation and Technology Convergence Webinar
Presentation
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Power Point slides associated with Innovation and Technology Convergence webinar
Article
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One of the keys to strong client relationships, starting with marketing and selling and continuing throughout the project life cycle, is having a clear understanding of the client's wants and needs. This is not something you guess at or feel in your gut. Rather you need to "ask your clients." Having asked your client, it's important to listen to yo...
Article
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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 capa...
Article
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Materials management is focused on the planning and control of both the quality and quantity of materials and equipment procured and installed on a construction project.
Article
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• Turnarounds are a real element of the engineering and construction industry. • Many of the actions taken during a turnaround are in reality long overdue. • The responsibility of boards is brought into sharp focus during a turnaround. • The lessons learned from this turnaround are broadly applicable.
Article
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The focus is on changing risk managers’ perceptions on large complex projects. • An overview is provided that ties together many other NAC Executive Insights. • Weak project foundations include inadequate strategic business objectives (SBOs) clarity (#1) and incomplete project scope (#2). • Rarely are technical failures a primary cause of poor proj...
Book
The present study is responsive to a request in the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal019 (P.L. 115-232) to conduct a review of the effectiveness and efficiency of the management of the various EM projects. Congress asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to consider the following: (1) project management practi...
Article
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In his book, The Improbability Principle, David Hand, former president of the Royal Statistical Society, provides a tour de force treatment of uncertainty and how improbable events happen, over and over again. It is a highly recommended read but not for the faint of heart. In this Executive Insight the lenses described by Hand are used to look at l...
Article
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Earned Schedule (ES) is analogous to the Earned Value Measurement System (EVMS), a widely accepted system throughout the construction industry, except ES utilizes time versus cost to measure schedule performance. • EVMS, which utilizes Planned Value versus Actual Value when assessing schedule performance, performs well for cost but is lacking with...
Article
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Program management in the engineering & construction industry represents a fundamental re-allocation of responsibilities and authorities between the traditional owner organization and an engaged program manager. The readiness of the owner organization to adopt such a delivery strategy will be governed by many factors including overall capital proje...
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Presentation
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On 23 February, Bob Prieto, NAC, presented “Systemic Risks in Large, Complex Programs.” This webinar drew 1,907 registered students; another record-breaker for the AMA webinars. The format is a short presentation followed by a Q&A session which is highly recommended.
Article
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Key Points - 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 kick-off, which typically is considered the first 90 days of a project. • Vertical kick-off is enabled by the use of a dedicated kick-off team. • Project...
Article
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Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is the assessment of the total cost or benefit of an asset over its lifetime. Also referred to as Whole Life Costing (WLC), LCA systematically considers all relevant costs and revenues associated with the acquisition, ownership and disposal of an asset. LCA supports a comprehensive assessment of sustainability by consideri...
Article
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A growing world requires improved and expanded infrastructure. Juxtapose that with the need for massive public investment driven by pandemic created economic weakness and the prospects for significant investment in infrastructure is improved, but as history has taught us not necessarily assured. We have been through other infrastructure stimulus pr...
Article
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Key Points - Contingent execution is a key element of large complex project delivery. • Distributed and decentralized planning and execution, albeit with centralized consistency checking, is an essential element of contingent execution. • The view of time must take into account the temporal nature of time itself in project management. • Management...
Article
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Over the years I have read all too many project closeout reports, reports from turn-around managers on troubled projects, audit reports and project post-mortems. These reports have recurring findings that can be used to either guide effective management of a project or serve as a findings checklist for the auditor or other manager looking at a trou...
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This Executive Insight looks at the emerging nature of Construction 4.0. It provides an overview of what comprises Construction 4.0. We will examine some of the opportunities it may create and the challenges it will likely face. We start by defining Industry 4.0, which provides the framework for Construction 4.0. We also relate how Industry 4.0 is...
Article
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This Executive Insight looks at large complex programs from a systems perspective recognizing that such programs are not as well bounded as classical project management theory, as espoused by Taylor, Gantt and Fayol , would have us believe. Rather, they behave in both independent and interconnected ways in a dynamic systems environment. They demons...
Article
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Key Points • Historically, lessons learned processes have been founded on three elements: collection, documentation, and communication. • A more robust and effective lessons learned process includes a number of additional steps and avails itself of the deeper insights enabled by artificial intelligence (AI). • Lessons observed do not become lessons...
Preprint
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This Executive Insight will resist the temptation to just highlight a range of current and emerging technology innovations relevant to the engineering and construction industry. Instead it will attempt to provide a framework that might help understand where future innovation might emerge from and perhaps to suggest some fertile ground for examinati...
Article
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This paper builds on my beliefs that the prevailing theory of project management has failed us with respect to large complex projects. I have written extensively on this including highlighting that the assumptions of Gantt and Fayol fall short at scale and complexity. In this paper I examine the successes that underpin modern project management the...
Article
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Project closeout reports, reports from turn-around managers on troubled projects, audit reports and project post-mortems all seem to have recurring findings. These findings can be used to help establish strong, sound project management procedures and act as a guide for effective management of a project. Alternatively, the lessons of the past can be...
Article
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One of the most under considered elements of cost and schedule risk is the correlation that exists within various WBS elements of a project or across projects comprising a program. Failure to adequately consider correlation between various activities and projects compounds the impact of other factors present in large complex projects. These include...
Article
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Strategic Program Management is about meeting the challenges of scale and complexity but also about capturing the opportunities of leverage. Every major program as well as the projects that comprise it is the subject of a detailed and rigorous risk analysis. This is not only appropriate but also necessary. But in order to capture the full value inh...
Article
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The impacts of design and construction rework have been well researched and documented over the years. Despite this rework remains a systemic industry challenge contributing measurably to the cost overruns the industry experiences. In this paper we look briefly at some factors which lead to rework and their impacts. Importantly, a range of rework c...
Article
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With a President-elect recently declared in the U.S. to conclude the 2020 election, I thought it now appropriate to reflect on four tends that are likely to strengthen or accelerate. This is not to suggest this acceleration results from a change in leadership, but the change undoubtedly represents some element of contribution. On the U.S. political...
Article
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This paper looks at the special case of decision making under uncertainty. The relationship between uncertainty and complexity is explored as is their joint relationship with large complex projects. The importance of getting these projects well founded from an ability to manage uncertainty is discussed and the aspects of these strong foundations is...
Article
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Large complex projects differ in many aspects from more traditional projects. • Megaprojects differ from more traditional projects in more dimensions than just scale. • Scaling up in size has the concomitant effect of "unfolding" unseen dimensions. • Precepts and assumptions differ for megaprojects. • Large complex projects require fundamental chan...
Article
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The complexity of megaprojects and programs continues to grow and with it the challenges of delivering ever larger and more complex programs. These large complex programs open the door to many new opportunities but also to increased challenges in delivery and sustainment throughout their lifecycle. Prior articles have described the open nature of t...
Article
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This Executive Insight looks at defining quality within the design, engineering, and construction industry, moving beyond the textbook definitions.
Article
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This is a second edition of a 2009 article. Across many markets we are seeing dramatic growth in the scale and complexity of capital construction programs. Like all programs, these consist of a series of discrete but closely coupled projects that when taken in their entirety enable an owner to meet a set of well-defined strategic objectives. And ju...
Preprint
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The classical theory of project management focuses on the “transformational” processes which occur in discrete activities, strung together such that the output of one or more is the input to others. This simple transformational view is no longer adequate in considering large complex projects. This activity based focus, memorialized in work breakdo...
Article
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Attacks on the engineering and construction industry are growing as are the impacts of the attacks. • Internal attacks may be considered to be direct attacks originating from an employee, a trusted security vendor, or an IT hosting or services supplier. • External attacks may be considered to be indirect attacks originating upstream from the compan...
Article
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Design-build project delivery is a growing project delivery model. • Design-build project performance has created new challenges for owners, contractors, and engineers. • This Executive Insight provides advice to each of these three parties that should improve individual and collective project success.
Book
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Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is the assessment of the total cost or benefit of an asset over its lifetime. Also referred to as Whole Life Costing (WLC) or Life Cycle Value Analysis (LCVA), LCA systematically considers all relevant costs and revenues associated with the acquisition, ownership and disposal of an asset. It considers associated risks and...
Article
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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...
Article
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Corporate culture that is quality driven is essential for longer term success. • Culture change consists of three overlapping phases. • A common belief system is essential to transform to a quality driven organization. • Transformation to a quality driven organization requires us to modify, expand, and create new processes while simultaneously stre...
Article
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This Executive Insight provides for self-assessment by project and construction managers in how they assess problems and make decisions. • Two dozen logical fallacies encountered in the management of large complex projects are described. • A confidence test is offered for the reader's self-assessment. • Project leadership is all too often overconfi...

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