Improving Project Success

Projects are widely different in nature as they could be anything from R&D, FEED study theoretical projects, to huge international oil and gas projects involving engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning. I take it from the introduction to this topic that we are indeed talking about the latter.

In my humble opinion I do think it is vital that the management of these projects are a good mix of hands on engineers, more academic design engineers and a few “drivers” as well as integrators.

It is further important to build a good personal relationship early (before the official project kick-off). As these projects usually lasts from one to several years it is well worth it. All experience indicates that personal face to face relationship within the different disciplines involved increase the willingness and trust needed for the project members to discuss multidisciplinary problems. Later on in the construction and commissioning phase we can see that most problems arise in the interfaces between the different disciplines (drawings and registers/indexes are not fully correlated) of the project (i.e. electrical and mechanical, piping and rotating machinery, instrument and process are typical such interfaces).

A proper document control including a master document register, document coding and numbering system, a proper document database with revision control, and a good document flow procedure with interdisciplinary checks are all IMPERATIVE to the success of the project progress tracking and quality control.

Further the transitions of the project (From Engineering to Procurement, Procurement to Construction and Construction to Commissioning) are all important to spend a lot of time preparing and executing. This often involves change of people in charge of the various disciplines and this is where you will get a lot of help from those in your project team who have hands on field experience as well as being good practical design engineers. There must always be an overlap so the site team can get all the support they need from the engineering team. This will go on until commissioning is done. These days we often do not get time to finish commissioning at the shipyards, and have to spend some months completing offshore with bad infrastructure for parts logistics and communications like Internet might be very low bandwidth. It is therefore important to have a switched on support team onshore who can receive problems from the commissioning team offshore and provide them with answers.

There are plenty of project theory and fancy models more or less reliable, and I am no expert in this field, but I know the above to be a fact. I see these same problems happen over and over again, so this is what I feel I would like to share with the group, which might not have been mentioned all too often elsewhere. There are of course plenty more elements to juggle and all to keep the project on time, within budget and with the right quality.

Posted by Erik Strand