Closeout of projects and Handback of assets is pointedly analytical work but it is essential to the safety of the operations and maintenance teams

Sarah Mills, Closeout and Handback Specialist at CPMS Group has written an article titled the ‘closeout of projects and handback of assets is pointedly analytical work but it is essential to the safety of the operations and maintenance teams.

“I lead an all-female team and our role as Project Closeout and Handback specialists is critical to safety on the railway.

When a rail infrastructure project ends, contractors and project delivery teams often promptly down tools and are re-allocated to other programmes. The client then calls us, a specialist team, to close out the project and hand back the assets.

Our role is very analytical. We carry out a thorough inspection and review of all the documentation generated by the numerous teams who worked on the project, correct any inaccuracy, identify and locate any missing document, verify all the drawings to ensure they are complete, up to date and appropriately filed and effectively close out the project and hand back the assets to the operation and maintenance teams so they can safely carry out their maintenance work going forward.

Closeout and Handback is a unique safety critical service developed by CPMS 8 years ago. I lead the CPMS all female team and I am very proud of what we have achieved since we started in 2013.

I have always been obsessively methodical in my paperwork so it was natural that I would end up leading a team who specialises in reviewing and organising complex sets of intricate documents.

My journey began in an aerospace and defense company in 1996 as an entry level junior assistant. I started in document control at a time when all documents and drawings were manually written and hand drawn. I helped the business implement its first Systems Application Processing (SAP) in Enterprise Resource Programming (ERP) and migrate all the manufacturing, project management, quality, engineering, design, marketing, sales, finance, purchasing and shipping systems from the old mainframe to the new ERP. It was a mammoth task, but I loved it.

In 2007, I moved to work on the Thameslink Programme as part of the document control team. I helped streamline processes and migrate document control systems for major works and was instrumental in testing and developing the GRIP lifecycle for its implementation in 2010. I also secured authority for works and developed projects with the Engineering and Project Management teams and we commissioned 12 substations.

In 2013, I joined CPMS as a Handback manager. For the last few years, I have been privileged to work on a wide range of multi-disciplined railway projects.

The Closeout and Handback team at CPMS consists of various specialists, including Document Controllers, Project Management Assistants and Scheme Project Managers. We are all passionate about documents and safety.

Our work is very analytical. For every project we are instructed to Closeout and Handback, we conduct a meticulous chronological analysis of all the work done. We create matrices and produce dashboards and trackers, showing document deliverables with a percentage of complete against actual. We ensure all ‘as built’ drawings are correct, accurately logged into the client’s database, including the assets’ geolocational seat and their kilometrage or mileage. We identify all known defects (also known as snags) and ensure they are competently closed out on site.

We prepare the Handback deliverables required to be generated for the maintenance team to maintain the assets after Handback. We compile the Health & Safety file which is the biggest document to produce. We check all the deliverables against the project scope and verify they have been met and accepted. Commercially, we ensure that all supplier contracts are settled and that suitable warranties are put in in place. We then present our findings to the client’s authority panel who then assesses the overall cost benefits of the project. We also manage the AMP (Asset Management Plan) process in line with GRIP, CDM regulations and the national standards.

We collaborate with the construction suppliers, Hazard and Risk Management, Design, Safety Management, CDM -PC/PD, CSM, Quality management, Assurance and Commercial teams. We attend all the progress and technical meetings in order to fully understand the issues that have arisen during the works, so we are aware of all the project deliverables. We manage contractors and stakeholders, adopting a collaborative approach as it is important that all client relationships are maintained during and after Closeout and Handback.

My proudest achievement was closing and handing back 19 projects in just over a 12 months period. These projects were very old so most of the critical information was not available. My team and I had to track individuals and organisations that no longer worked with the client. It was very time consuming and complex, but we completed it proficiently in record time and received great client feedback.

Lockdown has not affected our ability to closeout projects and handback assets, as much of our role is desktop based and information gathering from different project teams can be done virtually. We have been able to continue to ensure that everyone who will be operating or maintaining the assets after we have closed the project will be able to do so safety when they go back on site.

Closeout and Handback is complex and intricate work, but it is safety critical for the railway. We take it very seriously and we love it.”

Sarah Mills, Closeout and Handback Specialist at CPMS Group