Implementing the ISO 29110 Standard at Tetra Tech

A technological transfer success and then some!

October 5, 2015
Frédéric Chevalier is head of the Transportation and
Electricity Distribution Division team at Tetra Tech.

Today the head of the Transportation and Electricity Distribution Division team at Tetra Tech, Frédéric Chevalier, implemented project management processes that are based on the ISO 29110 standard, while he was studying for his Master’s in Engineering Project Management at the ÉTS.

This project was a roaring success, and this has come through in the Division saving a net $785,000 over three years! We must say that Mr. Chevalier went to a good school: many professors at the ÉTS are very involved in international standardization for software engineering, systems engineering and information technology.

Below is a short history of a successful technological transfer, as has often happened at the ÉTS.

What is the ISO 29110 Standard?

The ISO 29110 standard was designed for companies or teams that develop software or systems involving hardware. It allows very small businesses (VSBs), i.e., those with 25 or fewer employees, to comply with international standards. It must be said that ISO engineering standards are often designed by large corporations to manage large-scale projects. As a result, they are expensive and can be difficult to implement by a small company or for small projects.

ISO 29110 is very accessible to students and companies. Available in English and French, the ISO 29110 management and engineering guides can be downloaded free of charge from the ISO Web site.

“ÉTS software engineering students who intern at Quebec VSBs can easily use this engineering and management guide,” explained Claude Y. Laporte, editor of the ISO/IEC 29110 Standardization Project and Professor at the Software Engineering and Information Technologies Department at the ÉTS.

Several guides have even been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, German and Japanese, which shows the interest for this standard by companies all over the world. It should be mentioned that the majority of companies in many countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia employ 25 or fewer people.

The Impacts of the Standard on Tétra Tech

Although Tetra Tech, a multinational engineering consulting firm, had put in place a management process for large-scale projects, close to 95% of projects for the Transportation and Electricity Distribution Division were small and medium-sized.

Smaller projects represent approximately 70% of all Division projects. These are projects that are carried out over a period of less than two months and that require a team of four or fewer people charging professional fees of between $5,000 and $70,000. Mr. Chevalier therefore should set up processes for small and medium-sized projects in order to:

  • Reduce cost and schedule overruns
  • Standardize practices to facilitate the integration of new managers
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Reduce discrepancies in project estimates

The ISO 29110 “Entry” profile was used to document the management process for small projects, whereas the “Basic” profile was used to document the management process for medium-sized projects.

In the end, setting up ISO 29110 proved to be very profitable for the Division: Clients had greater levels of satisfaction, deadlines were respected, and costs were kept in check… not to mention the company saved a net $785,500 over three years.

Professors Committed to International Standardization

Several professors at the ÉTS’s Software Engineering and Information Technologies Department are very involved in the international standardization of software engineering, systems engineering, and information technology. François Coallier presides over the joint ISO and IEC subcommittee, which develops these standards, whereas Witold Suryn serves as secretary. Claude Y. Laporte is editor for the work group developing the ISO 29110 standards and guide since this group was struck back in 2005.

The activities of these professors for ISO standardization has not only allowed to teach about the importance of standards to ÉTS students, but also to facilitate technological transfers to Quebec industry. At the end of the day, both national and international commerce benefit from this.

Claude Laporte professeur ETS
Claude Y. Laporte is professor at the Software Engineering and Information Technologies Department at the ÉTS.

To obtain more information:

On the ISO/IEC 29110
Substance ETS

On the Tetra Tech Project
Amélioration des processus de gestion des petits et des moyens projets dans une société d’ingénierie canadienne.

An Innovative Approach to the Development of Project Management Processes for Small-scale Projects in a large Engineering Company.

The review Plan of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec for September-October 2015 presents an article on the ISO 29110 and an interview with the engineer who led the ISO 29110 project at Tetra Tech (pages 46 to 49 ) : Plan.

For information
Service des communications - ÉTS
Chantal Crevier
514 396-8800, poste 7893

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