Why do most construction commissioning software tools mark a device as either 0% complete or 100% complete, and nothing in between?

In most software applications within the building / construction commissioning software space (aka Cx software), a device is treated as  either 0% complete or 100% complete.  There’s nothing in between. No option to mark something as partially complete.

But what if commissioning a particular device or device type takes a long time and effort?

Won’t your % complete calculations be artificially lower than actual rates?

Why can’t you take some partial credit for those more complex and time-consuming tests and device types?

Why treat partially completed devices as 0% complete?

Because it’s historically been “too much squeeze for the juice”

The typical answer is that its complicated to set up and track partial % complete.  We experienced this ourselves when we were hired to develop a Cx software application for the commissioning of a very large IGCC power plant construction project in Indiana (the largest of its kind at the time).  That project had over 60K devices to commission, more than 100 startup codes and engineering areas, two different devices lists from different GCs that had to be normalized, 30+ different device types, and a multitude of different form templates, several for each device type.   Setting all of this up took a long time, and assigning a % complete for different portions of each form was painful, partly because different people had their own opinions about what should be considered 40% complete, or 10% complete, and so forth.

Most companies—rightfully so—don’t even bother with the setup because as the saying goes, it’s too much squeeze for the juice.  Said differently, it usually takes too much effort on the setup side for the gains made in the % complete calculation accuracy.  Thus it stands to reason that a few percentage points below actual % complete is satisfactory if it means not having to spend another 2 weeks of setup time.

The knowledge and experience gained during that giant IGCC commissioning project were key learning lessons when developing XForms, which was a product that was developed from scratch, with zero legacy code or clients to support.  Building something from scratch gave us the freedom to rethink what a forms software tool could look like, using brand new tools, with zero compromises.  And yup, % complete calculations at the form level was one of the fundamental aspects of what we thought a new forms software tool could do better than anything out there.

But what if partial % complete credit was automatically calculated, with no extra setup effort?

Out of the box, XForms can perform partial % complete automatically, with no extra effort or time to set up.  Here’s how it works:

  • For each form, XForms treats it as either 0% complete, 50% complete, or 100% complete:
    • 0% if no fields on the form have been completed or filled out
    • 50% if some fields are filled out and the form is saved as draft (not submitted)
    • 100% if the form has been completed and submitted
  • For each device that contains multiple forms, the calculations above are conducted per form and then computed for the device as a whole:
    • Lets say a motor has 4 forms (eg, motor merger, motor uncoupled bump and run-in, etc), and the tech has completed/submitted one form, partially completed 1 form and saved it as draft, and hasn’t started the other 2.  So the first form is 100% complete, the second one 50% complete, and the other 2 are 0% complete.  So this motor is calculated by XForms to be 37.5%  complete {(100 + 50 + 0 + 0) / 4}.  Most other systems would treat this motor as being 0% complete until all 4 tests and forms have been completed and submitted.

Here’s a simple schematic illustrating the above calculation example:


All of the above is done automatically, with zero extra setup effort.

In addition to calculating % complete at the form and device level, these calculations are rolled up and calculated by whatever hierarchies you assign, whether that’s by system code, engineering area, area/location, and/or device type.  By providing a simple and easy means of awarding partial % complete credit at the form level, you can see how this can make a big difference when you roll up hundreds of devices up hierarchically into higher abstractions.

Could different forms be weighted differently, to account for more complex tests like motor meggers?

That’s the goal!  We are hard at work developing a weighting feature, where the admin can assign a different weight for each assigned form.  This is both at the device type level and at the individual device level.  So basically you would be able to give a higher weight to one form over another form when more than 1 form is assigned to a device.  This feature would mean having to spend a little bit of time setting up the weights for each device type, but because this is done at the device type level, it’s actually not much extra effort (because even if your project has 20K devices, it probably has no more than 40 or 50 device types).  Further refinement can be done for an individual device if that device is unique and has a different set of form templates assigned to it.

Here’s an illustration depicting how weights would be assigned to form templates for each device type.

In the example above, the motor megger form accounts for 50% completion, while the motor nameplate accounts for 10% completion.  So if the nameplate form is submitted for a device, then that device would take a value of 10% complete.  Submitted/saved as draft/not started still apply here, so the math for a device’s % complete would look something like the illustration below.

And here is this stuff in action, as illustrated in the short animated gif below.

If the above is possible and takes either zero extra effort or minimal extra effort, why would you not do it this way?  When you are talking about multi-million dollar projects, it makes zero sense to treat things as simply done or not done.  Software has come a long way—even in the past couple of years—that make this a more practical and accurate way to calculate percent complete on your Cx projects.  At least we think so.

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