Evaluate and Fix Your Technology Gap

Five Stages to Manage your Turnaround, Project or Program

Five Stages

It sounds pretty easy: Follow the 5 stages. Do the right things in each stage. And it all comes together: your project, turnaround or maintenance program is on target with respect to your 5 key areas of concern: Safety, Quality, Environment, Schedule and Cost.

And yet. . .we still see problems. Turnarounds and shutdowns that run longer than planned; and that cost more than budgeted; poor and late identification of changes; wasted time in poor communications with contractors; delayed testing and reporting; and so on.

If you work on turnarounds, you already are acutely aware of these issues. You may even shrug and say ‘that’s just the way we do business’. And, if you are on the front line, you depend on management support as a critical requirement to identify and drive changes. Solving the issue may be out of your hands.

Given that we have learned our lessons, compared ourselves to benchmarks and consulted with experts, these problems should not be happening in 2018! What, then, are the persistent gaps that continue to stymie us?

What are the Root Causes?

Well, they are in one or more of these critical company ingredients: People, Processes, Technology, right?

Is training of our people lacking?

The turnaround and construction crews that I’ve worked with are fantastic at their work. They have been a source of wisdom that only comes from years of experience on the job. They are stoic and are accustomed to getting it done, despite poor direction and definition. The People in this business are not the root cause of the problems!

Are our processes not sound?

Detailed, and constantly reviewed, processes are the result of careful analyses of lessons learned following each turnaround or project. Years of experience have gone into making these processes reflect the way we aspire to do business. So, we feel that processes and procedures are not the issue.

Is our technology deficient?

  • Does your team use any spreadsheets and standalone (silo) schedules and documents?
  • Have you integrated the Stage and Deliverable processes into your  workflow?
  • Are your KPIs process-based?
  • Will KPI measures be silently and accurately with no manual intervention?
  • Do you depend on paper-based communication of work scope and resource needs with your contractors, vendors and service providers?

If your answer is ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then your technology is deficient. You have a technology gap. And in 2018, there should be little push-back against the notion of quickly changing this paradigm for the better! The technology is ready. The cloud, mobile devices and wireless technology is game-changer for turnarounds, projects and programs.

Set the Stage for Bridging the Technology Gap

Just so we are all on the same page: the 5 stages are:

  • Strategic – Steering Team and Roles and Responsibilities definition, scope analysis, including risk assessment, etc.;
  • Tactical – detailed planning and estimating, including safety assessment, etc.;
  • Logistical – ensuring that in-house and contracted people, equipment, materials, supplies, tools and services are available in time for the execution stage, and that the people have appropriate safety orientation;
  • Execution – getting the work done, safely, according to the plan; ensuring that changes are managed; completion of pre-commissioning testing and recording; notification-based communications between crews;
  • Operational – closing out the execution and starting up, or commissioning the plant to perform at its designed capacity; completion of clean-up and de-mobilization; close out of financial books.

Buried in this apparent simplicity (just 5 stages), are a huge number of opportunities to remove technology gaps for work being planned and executed. Happily, each of these issues (like procurement and time tracking) can be managed in a more constructive way with solutions that focus on their functions.

On the other hand, you need to be aware of the additional pitfalls created by using easily plugged in, off-the-shelf (OTS) systems, that essentially create yet another silo. Be sure that the apps that you choose have the ability to be seamlessly integrated with each other, and that you have an overarching strategy to manage your plant maintenance and asset data.

You don’t want to create a new strategic problem while solving a tactical one!

Clarence Monteiro

By looking at the process steps required in each stage, and focusing on the modes and tools used to manage mission-critical data in that stage, we see the ways that your teams benefit from operating in an integrated mode.

Needs Evaluation and Analysis of Technology Gap

Instead of continuing this article with a list of deliverables in each stage and a discussion of how each would be improved by using an integrated approach rather than the usual spreadsheet or document, let’s do something different. Why don’t you analyze your technology landscape? After all, that is really what’s important to you and your team and company. Each team is at a different place in their adoption of technology, so it makes sense to look at what you are doing.

To help, we’ll make the Needs Evaluation and Assessment app available for you, and your team, to collaborate and to develop your own awareness of requirements. You can use the Stages that we provide, or modify them, or even create your own. Likewise, you can use the Deliverables that we have listed, or delete these and create your own. This is the qualitative phase of the analysis.

Quantification of ROI

If you wish to quantify benefits from moving to new technology, we can help you load value (hours and cost) on to each process step in your needs analysis. We would then use an efficiency factor (spreadsheet has a low factor, integration has a high factor) to determine your potential savings – in indirect costs associated with getting ready for the execution stage and also performing the quality control, HSE and other support functions.

The savings in direct costs, for direct work in the field, that you get for having better plans and communications has been pegged at 30-40%. Typically this comes from higher ‘wrench times’, due to less waiting for the next assignment, which in turn is due to faster, notification-enabled (like in LinkedIn and Facebook) communications.

How do we start?

So, with your company and contact information, we’ll provide you with your own safe, private and secure url address, like: https://YourPlant.ttwg.biz , and a login based on your name. In this browser-accessible site you can add notes, comments and attachments and send t-mails (TWIST emails) to your co-team members.

How can you get started? Email me at cpmonteiro@teamworkgroup.com or complete the contact information form in the http://www.teamworkgroup.com website, and we’ll email you with your access information promptly.

At some point it makes sense to quit trying to do things better. Then, it’s time to do better things.

Harold Burak – Quality Evangelist

It’s Time to do Better Things

Let’s stop wasting time on simply trying doing things better – like eternally improving your spreadsheets, tweaking macros and formulas and exporting to spreadsheets.

Let’s, instead, start doing better things, like integrating your team into a cohesive unit using the right technology.

We’re ready to help you fix your technology gap.  Are you?