Nijmegen Municipal Authority accelerates the testing process for a new city bridge

Nijmegen urgently needed a second bridge across the River Waal. The new city bridge must provide for better access and improve air quality in and around the city. Bouwcombinatie Stadsbrug Nijmegen (BSN), consisting of BAM Civiel and Max Bögl Nederland, is providing the design, construction and 25 years of maintenance for the ‘De Oversteek’ City Bridge. The municipal authority uses Relatics to support the contract management for this complex contract.

Contract Management with Relatics

In the run-up to the award of the contract, the municipal authority faced a number of matters that it wanted to organise well during the preparation of the realisation phase. Bas Heijnen both test coordinator and auditor at the ‘De Oversteek’ City Bridge Project Organisation of Nijmegen municipal authority explains: ‘This is a big project with many information flows; internal, between the client and the supplier, and to third parties. In order to monitor correct execution of the contract, we have to save, manage and access all this information reliably, effectively and transparently. Insight into the complete route and context, from requirements to test results, is then essential.’

A grip on quality

Nijmegen also uses Relatics to specify requirements in the preparation and design phase of other projects. The focus for the City Bridge project lies on contract management, because the contract preparation phase was already complete. ‘We wanted an integrated contract, in order to make the best possible use of the knowledge and experience of the market,’ Heijnen says. ‘At the same time, we wanted to be able to watch the design and execution process, in order to be able to assess the extent to which BSN takes account of the risks that we defined, manages the processes and applies quality assurance. We do this with System-based Contract Management. In addition to establishing the functional requirements, we test whether the supplier complies with the contract. In that way, we keep a grip on the quality of the bridge and the process that underlies it.’

Testing

The testing process is at the heart of the contract management and execution. ‘In principle, a test always relates to a defined risk which is associated with one or more requirements’, Heijnen explains. ‘We also test compliance with quality documents that the supplier provides in accordance with the contract. We do that, for example, with questions on the potential occurrence of a risk and the management measure that the supplier applies for this. The test report results in positive or negative findings and any points for attention for future tests. The results determine whether we maintain, increase, reduce or eliminate a risk.’

All information in the test process is recorded in Relatics. ‘It is very practical to combine relevant data and documents logically in a single system. The requirements and risks are recorded, including the realisation process and the stakeholders involved. Because the planning, preparation, execution and reporting of the tests take place in the same system, there is always a link between the identified risks and the test setting, as well as between the criteria and the contract documents. In that way, we always work with a reliable and updated overview and the process can be monitored well.’

Clear relationships

According to Heijnen, the test coordinator is the lynchpin in contract management. ‘As the contract manager’s right-hand man, I always have to know the current status of things and be able to connect, access and visualise information from different points of view. At different times, I produce reports and trend analyses and always have a good picture of the test status, from the date on which a document is submitted and the type of test to the test assistant concerned and their reports. That can take place at all sorts of different levels and is recorded in work flows. Although we perform many tests, I always know with one click exactly how much of that has gone well and when adjustments are still needed. Because Relatics is a web-based solution, I can also monitor the progress of a test from home.’

New overviews or reports can also be generated quickly. ‘My information needs vary from one project phase to another. I always decide how I want to filter and access the information. If necessary, I simply make a new query. Due to lack of time, I also enlist the help of Relatics for this sometimes. They know the terminology and the structure of the system and our project. Sometimes they also make suggestions, for example on how to set up the risk file still more logically.’ In addition to the customised overviews, it is also easy to share information. ‘Data are not recorded flat out in spreadsheets. Through the clear structure and interrelationships, authorised users can find information via their own access points.’

Flexibility

The test results are crucial for managing deviations and the delivery process for the City Bridge. Certainly with a project with so many different parts, it is often a puzzle to maintain an overall view. ‘The contractor records deviations and we test them. It is then important that potential risks for other activities are transparent. Only by recording everything logically can everyone know what will happen and what the effects will be. This underscores the fact that test programmes are not static. If something changes somewhere, I immediately have to anticipate and adjust tests or plan in new ones. The testers then receive new personalised information automatically.’ An extra advantage is that in this project, the supplier also uses Relatics. ‘The two systems are not directly linked, but with the view function, we can always view each other’s data.’

Delivery and payment process

The supplier is paid for specific activities on the basis of requests for performance statements. ‘In Relatics, I can see at a glance whether a work package has been carried out, when documents are submitted and accepted and whether they contain any defects. Because this concerns the payment of the contractor, it has to take place accurately. When all the conditions are met, a payment recommendation follows. Any outstanding risks, findings or issues that have not been settled in the design or execution are linked to the relevant delivery file. In this way, these points remain in view and are addressed during the assessment of the delivery file. This increases the reliability of the process. A delivery file is only accepted after all current issues have been assessed.’

According to Bas Heijnen, it is impossible to keep all information in your head or in separate spreadsheets with a project of the scale and complexity of the City Bridge. ‘I can now find all the relevant information quickly and always have access to the entire risk file, including the relationship with the test programme, reports and feedback. In that way, we save time and costs and can identify and solve potential problems at an early stage.’