Round Table

Bluefield Round Table – Improving Project Management

What is the one thing that sites could do to improve their project management practices? 

Project management is one of Bluefield’s core project offerings, whether it’s delivering shutdownsbuilding fleets, or operational readiness projects. We’re continually trying to  improve both our own project management capabilities and processes, as well as help our clients build their own capabilities. We asked some of Bluefield’s project management specialists the following question: 

What is the one thing that sites could do to improve their project management practices? 

 Brent Boterhoek 

 I don’t think that there is one particular thing. All sites/companies are different in this regard. There are a few common things that I see as problems. In no particular order:   

  1. Lack of continuity in key resources. Sometimes this is purely a lack of resourceslet alone key resources.  
  1. Not allowing sufficient time to do the front end loading/planning to a detailed enough level, resulting in rushed/reactive effort in the last minute planning and through the execution phase.  

So, in summary, I think that sites could improve their project management practices by allowing sufficient time and resources to complete the front end loading and have the same key resources continue on and through the execution phase. 

(See a video about the shutdown work that Brent leads here) 

John Thomsen 

I agree with Brent. I’ve routinely seen poor shutdown execution based on poor understanding of equipment condition prior to the shutdown, as well as understanding of the drivers for the shutdown. This, coupled with poor resource and budget planning, typically ends up in a rushed planning and preparation phase.  

For example, as part of the annual budget process, a site knows they are going to have a major shutdown. They do not however, dedicate a resource to it and it mostly becomes the job of a planner on the site. They usually do their very best but are also dealing with their normal role which may be larger than they can handle anyway.  

Therefore, details get missed very early in the process, and they tend to snowball as the execution date approaches. At some stage, the underthepump planner will put their hand up for assistance and a cry for help will go out. There will be a haggle over the cost of the “help” as well as availability of and further resource delays will result.  

Once the “help” arrives, they are in reactive mode immediately and scrambling to ensure as much of the shutdown as possible is planned and prepared in time for the execution date.  

If back at budget time, an internal resource was dedicated with a milestone date to fully perform the project management role, then the work could probably be handled internally, knowledge retained, and people developed with enough time to perform the shutdown to a high standard. 

(See John’s post on Setting Maintainers up for Success) 

Ian Peterson 

The first thing to do is simply apply some discipline to just follow existing procedures. Performance management and continuous improvement will soon bring about further improvements. 

Neville Flood 

Consistency in approach and don’t skip over preparation steps in haste. 

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