Company NewsJuly 2, 2021

How “Invisible Governance” Through Integrated Project Management Can Make Energy, Process & Utilities Companies More Resilient Amid a Crisis

India’s thriving Energy, Process and Utility (EPU) sector faced unprecedented challenges during…
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Abbas ZULFIKAR

India’s thriving Energy, Process and Utility (EPU) sector faced unprecedented challenges during the first wave of COVID-19, and recent indicators suggest that organizations are still not out of the woods. In 2021, re-lockdown in several areas and curbs on movements and professional physical meetings have made it extremely difficult to maintain the usual levels of productivity. Collaborative tasks that relied on in-person meetings between different teams and project stakeholders are now delayed or completely stalled. The industry must consider intelligent alternatives to traditional collaboration and project management, gaining from advanced digital technology. Integrated project management enables digital continuity making it possible to obtain detailed and real-time data insights into EPU processes. This ensures that all stakeholders involved in project execution across various teams including management, project control, engineering, procurement, construction, quality, etc. have shared and centralized visibility.

In fact, CIOs at energy & utilities companies that classify as digital leaders have been much more successful in staying resilient during COVID-19 (63%) than non-digitally leading companies (3%).

COVID-19 Has Added to the Operational Challenges in Energy & Utilities

Typically, there has always been a disconnect between project managers and execution teams, especially engineering, procurement, and construction teams. Each team is in charge of a discrete tactical responsibility, using a different micro plan. The high-level project team would adopt a macro plan pertaining to L1/L2/L3 level schedules. Meanwhile, engineering teams are working on micro plans to execute master document list or document control index (MDL/DCI) operations. The construction team is using micro plans for construction activities based on scope, planned quantities, and actual quantities. The procurement team has micro plans for tracking purchase requests to purchase orders, and finally the delivery of supply packages.

All of these micro project elements would be managed by individual teams working in isolation on spreadsheets. This leads to challenges in version control, endless iterations, and a disconnect with the project manager’s original macro plan. Without in-person meetings and on-site travel (triggered by COVID-19), there is a risk of a complete breakdown of visibility. The challenges arising from this situation include:

  • Multiple versions of the truth, without the availability of real-time updates to the information
  • Risks are not identified at the right time which eventually leads to delays and cost overruns
  • Information sharing via emails, which means there is no traceability, and no business insights can be gained from that information
  • Actual problems and issues remain unnoticed, causing cost overruns later on

It is vital to relook at existing operational models and adapt to the new normal. This means greater reliance on digital technology, the implementation of low-touch processes, and seamless connectivity between management and execution to achieve “invisible governance.”

How Deliverables-based Integrated Project Management Can Help Achieve “Invisible Governance”

A deliverables-based, integrated project management solution transforms the way projects are executed today by bringing management and execution teams together to work on a consolidated bedrock of real-time data. It is possible to integrate project management-level planning and individual team-level execution processes across EPC teams on a single digital platform, augmented by data connectivity between erstwhile silos.

Deliverables-based, integrated project management also paves the way for low-touch “invisible governance,” which is the cornerstone of success amid a crisis. It equips energy & utilities project managers with rich business insights, as project reporting relies on automated data collection, real-time project views, and detailed analytics. A digital twin model may also be implemented, leveraging the massive amounts of data that is generated across the project pathway to create a digital manifestation of the project to streamline task completion in the real world.

To achieve this, project tasks in macro plans must be associated directly with specific deliverables across engineering, procurement, and construction through a digital platform. As team members progress on their deliverables, the task status in the macro plan is updated, providing real-time project information to decision-makers. This results in “invisible governance” as the deliverable status is updated automatically in the project timeline, without requiring project managers to manually check with every team member.

By obtaining accurate, real-time information without manual effort, energy & utilities companies can improve productivity, not to mention overcome the challenges caused by limited mobility due to COVID 19. Further, integrated project management has enormous potential beyond the pandemic. It can:

  • Increase daily productivity by 10-30% by reducing non-value added activities and improving productivity on core activities. This ensures projects are delivered on budget.
  • Optimize schedule adherence and minimize deviation by 10-20% by early risk detection through real-time dashboarding. As a result, businesses can deliver projects on time.
  • Enable 50% reduction in the number and duration of iterations through a streamlined handover process. Planning and execution teams can communicate better from remote locations.

Ultimately, project managers would be able to make intelligent, informed decisions as they have 360-degree visibility from the engineering and procurement stage, to construction and final site installation – regardless of mobility restrictions, inter-team disconnect, and the complexity of the project.

This was successfully implemented at McDermott International, a multinational EPC and installation company. The company was looking to regain its competitive edge amid rising oil prices, making it essential to fabricate and install equipment in a manner that increases the efficiency of the oil & gas industry. The company leveraged a digital platform that could handle and make sense of massive amounts of data collected in real-time, building a single source of truth that would power a digital twin of the project. As a result, all stakeholders could work on the digital twin on the same platform, viewing the same information at the same time without requiring physical presence or in-person check-ins. This mature level of invisible governance allowed McDermott to manipulate, analyze, and present project data in an understandable and actionable form so that multiple project workflows can operate parallelly, optimizing schedule adherence and productivity.

To learn more about this solution and know about how other customers are leveraging this, you can watch our on-demand webinar on ‘360-degree project monitoring, execution and Intelligence’ here.

If you are further interested to know more about our offerings, we are coming up with an exclusive event on ‘Sustainable Transformation beyond digitalization of the Energy, Metals and Mining Sector in India’. This virtual event highlights the know-how and experience of those already sustainably transforming their business models, projects, and people. Register Now 

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