Commissioning & Turnover


Commissioning a project is a critical step in ensuring that a project is delivered to meet its intended purpose. It involves a systematic process of testing, verifying, and certifying that all aspects of the project meet the required standards and specifications. Although commissioning occurs as a distinct phase upon completion of construction, the planning and lead-up to commissioning activities cannot be understated. In this article, we will explore the steps involved in commissioning a project and the importance of planning in this process. 

Stage 1: Planning 

The first stage where the commissioning team should be actively involved in a project is the planning stage. Planning involves defining the project goals, objectives, and scope, as well as identifying the stakeholders and their requirements. Within the overall project plan, a commissioning plan must be developed that outlines the commissioning process, the roles and responsibilities of the commissioning team, and the success criteria for the project as a whole. 

During the planning phase, it is essential that the project team engage all stakeholders, including the commissioning leader, to ensure that priorities and processes are aligned with the expected project outcomes.  The commissioning team should also be involved in procurement planning so that vendors are aligned with the commissioning and startup strategy for the project.  Ensuring alignment with all project stakeholders is the first major step in a successful project.  

Stage 2: Design  

The second step in commissioning a project is involvement in the design phase of the project. This involves a thorough review of the project design to identify any potential issues or gaps in the design that could impact not only the successful startup of the facility but also it’s continued efficient operation. Involvement in periodic design reviews will ensure that the desired outcomes of operability are not sacrificed as the project moves through the design process. 

Stage 3: Construction 

During this phase, the commissioning team works closely with the construction team to ensure that the project is built according to the design specifications and standards. This involves conducting periodic inspections and tests to verify that the construction, utilities, and equipment installation meets the project requirements. 

The commissioning team will be actively planning for project handover from the construction team during this time.  Vendor information will be collected as agreed in the vendor contracts, materials required for commissioning purchased, personnel put into place, and finalization of the detailed execution plan.  Ideally, as systems are approaching completion, the commissioning team will identify any deficiencies that require rectification prior to handover and work with the project team to implement any repairs. 

Stage 4: Testing and Verification 

The testing and verification stage is where all of the upfront planning pays off – the more effort that is put into planning the commissioning activities, the smoother this phase will be. This stage involves a series of tests to verify that all systems and components of the project are working as intended. This includes performance testing of building, utility, and production systems to ensure that the facility is ready to have the product introduced. 

The commissioning team also verifies that all systems are integrated correctly and that they work together as intended. This includes verifying that the building automation system is communicating effectively with all the systems and that the control sequences are functioning correctly. 

During this stage, the commissioning team will inevitably discover defects or deficiencies in the processes.  If planning has been effective within the project processes, many of these defects will have been discovered and rectified well before this stage, and the number of deficiencies will be minimal.  The commissioning team should have resources and relationships in place to quickly rectify deficiencies such that the overall project timeline is not affected. 

Stage 5: Training and Turnover 

The final step in commissioning a project is training and turnover. This involves training the building operators and maintenance staff on how to operate and maintain the project systems. It also includes turning over all necessary documentation and records to the project owner. 

The commissioning team also provides ongoing support to the project owner and the building operators to ensure that the systems continue to function correctly. 


Commissioning a project involves a series of steps that must be carefully planned and executed to achieve overall project success. Effective planning is critical to the success of any project, enabling the project team to define project goals, allocate resources effectively, identify and mitigate risks, establish timelines and milestones, monitor project progress, and ensure that the project meets the needs and expectations of its stakeholders. By following the steps outlined in this article and emphasizing effective planning, project teams can ensure successful project completion and deliver high-quality project outcomes. 

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