Choosing By Advantages(CBA) for Engineering Managers

31 Jan 2024 9:12 AM | Ali Kucukozyigit (Administrator)

by Ayman Fahmi Naser, MS in Eng Mngt, Senior Projects Manager

 Choosing By Advantages(CBA) for Engineering Managers

Effective decisions are crucial as they dictate course of action that yields the intended outcomes. This is why the approach one employs when reaching decisions is significant.

 By utilizing Choosing By Advantages (CBA), engineering managers are able to focus on what is critical: the benefits (differences in value) that each alternative may offer to stakeholders, and making a determination according to the overall significance of those benefits. By emphasizing the benefits for the end user, CBA links decision makers with their clients' conceptualizations of what they desire. By involving constructors, buildability is taken into account.

CBA is a framework and series of procedures devised by civil engineer Jim Suhr during his tenure at the US Forest Service. Its purpose is to empower individuals, organizations, and project teams to make decisions that are more efficient in nature.


Why implement CBA?

The primary objective of the CBA method is to assist decision makers in distinguishing between alternatives and comprehending the significance of those distinctions. CBA prevents double counting by basing decisions on the positive differences, or advantages, of alternatives rather than their disadvantages.

CBA establishes an auditable, open, collaborative and transparent decision-making process for design and project works, recognizing the complexity of the client systems that commission the majority of projects. CBA is capable of integrating subjective and objective data into a unified decision-making procedure.

Construction and design projects are becoming more intricate, rapid, and uncertain. Likewise, client systems are becoming more intricate. 'The client' is not a singular entity, but rather a dynamic and complex collection of individuals whose needs and expectations may fluctuate throughout the project's lifecycle. The presence of a transparent audit trail for decisions enables their reevaluation when required. A transparent delivery schedule enables all parties to comprehend the repercussions of modifying those decisions.

Human beings often exhibit a tendency to avoid excessive choice. A tendency exists in design to jump to conclusions prior to exploring all plausible alternatives; this is a technique for preventing decision overload. CBA provides a methodical approach for all parties involved to oversee the decision-making process when confronted with a substantial quantity of alternatives. It guarantees that the number of alternatives considered in the intricate decisions surrounding design for the built environment is not unnecessarily restricted.

What is CBA?

CBA is a method for determining the significance of beneficial differences (i.e., benefits) among alternatives. It contains fundamental definitions, models, principles, and procedures. The key principles are:

1. Decisions must be predicated on the relative significance of the advantageous distinctions among alternatives.

2. Decisions ought to be grounded in pertinent factual evidence.

3. Diverse categories of decisions necessitate distinct and effective approaches to decision making.

4. It is imperative that decision makers acquire knowledge and effectively employ sound methodologies for decision making.

As implied by principle 3, various approaches exist for various categories of decisions. These can vary in complexity from straightforward binary choices that have no impact on resources to numerous alternatives that each have their own set of resource implications. It is critical to distinguish resource requirements from other attributes, as the majority of stakeholders would be compelled to answer the question of what they would do with the resource if it were not being used in the decision under consideration. CBA evaluates the advantageous distinctions among non-resource attributes of alternatives prior to delving into resource considerations, thereby facilitating a clear exploration of potential trade-offs.

CBA prevents the errors that occur with unreliable approaches like Kepner-Tregoe, selecting based on benefits and drawbacks, employing weighting rating and calculating (WRC) systems that incorporate criteria weighting, factor weighting, and cost-benefit analysis.

 How do we apply CBA?

Simple procedures are simple to master and, once ingrained, effortless to implement. Facilitation is beneficial when dealing with more intricate decisions, such as those encountered in the fields of design and construction projects. Additionally, providing training and mentoring to all attendees is crucial to prevent the meeting from becoming bogged down in discussions regarding processes that are addressed during the training. John Koga, Director of Process and Supply Chain Improvement at construction joint venture HerreroBoldt, remarked, "Without mentoring, very few individuals utilize CBA correctly. They revert to hazardous and improper practices that are no longer part of the CBA”.

CBA procedure is comprised of five guiding phases for all parties involved:

I.               Establishing the Stage: Determining the Issues at Hand, Specifying the Criteria for the Determination, and Determining the Audience.

II.              Innovation stage: consists of distinguishing between alternatives in a visible and tangible manner.

III.            Decision-making process: consists of enumerating the benefits of each alternative, determining the significance of each benefit, and selecting the alternative with the greatest number of benefits prior to evaluating the resource implications of the alternatives and formulating the preliminary decision.

IV.            Reconsideration stage: entails scrutinizing the preliminary decision to ascertain its alignment with the intended objective, revising it as necessary, and subsequently finalizing the choice.

V.             Implementation stage: entails carrying out the actions required to bring the decision to fruition.

How does Choosing By Advantages help engineering managers decide?

The Choosing By Advantages (CBA) tool is a framework for engineering managers' decision-making that has the potential to improve the process in numerous ways. CBA is a structured and methodical approach that assists decision-makers in comparing the merits of various alternatives. The utilization of the CBA tool improves engineering managers' decision-making process through the implementation of a methodical and transparent framework, stakeholder engagement, risk assessment, resource optimization, and encouragement of data-driven decision making. This may facilitate more effective and well-informed decision-making in the dynamic and complex field of engineering.

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