Categories: Virtual Experience Series
By: Genevieve Bouchard
Project Director – Industrial, Groupe Alphard
On 9 June, I presented a session on operational readiness for the PMI Virtual Experience Series 2022. This was a great event with featured speakers, exhibits and networking activities.
My presentation focused on the use of a project management approach in operational readiness in industrial construction projects. It was based on the experience of one particular project where operational readiness was planned and executed in a systematic manner, and it explained how the same approach can be used for a wide variety of construction projects in the industrial field.
During my presentation, I received a lot of great questions that we didn’t get a chance to cover, and my responses to some of these are below.
Question 1: What about storage of OEM as-builds and other critical documentation?
Documentation is an important part of operational readiness and was one of the challenges in the project that I presented. Documentation control and expediting with suppliers must be done actively during the project so that it can be delivered with the asset.
The client for this project uses an asset management system where the technical documentation is kept. We met with the operation’s planning team and established a format for the data and documentation to be delivered to them. It was decided that the data entry in the system would be the planners’ responsibility. But gathering and organizing the data was an intensive task, and the project had to dedicate a full-time resource for several weeks to this task.
This is one aspect of operational readiness where the limit of responsibility needs to be established carefully. Delivering a documentation package that is not organized properly could pose a risk to the client’s ability to operate and maintain the asset.
Question 2: Gaining engagement from operations/maintenance can be difficult. Any insight on how to obtain engagement other than informing them of the points you are stating?
I am glad that this question was raised because it touches on a critical success factor: operations and maintenance teams’ buy-in. The result of operational readiness activities depends on the level of participation from the teams that will operate the asset, but it’s a fact that these people are busy with their day-to-day work and can sometimes be difficult to keep engaged.
In the project that I described in my presentation, we took a few measures to ensure their buy-in early on. The most important one was to hold one-on-one interviews with the main stakeholder team leads, where we presented the project and listened to their needs and their concerns, followed by an in-person workshop with representation from each stakeholder team. It is critical for everyone to understand the project and to feel like they have a word in the execution, and the project team must make it clear that the ultimate goal is to deliver an asset that fits their needs. We also made sure to obtain buy-in from their management, so that expectations would be communicated from their own team as well.
I believe, however, that a culture shift is needed in the industry. Operational readiness should be identified as an important part of the business and explicitly mentioned in role descriptions. All teams are involved in some way in operational readiness, and the right level of engagement correlates to a better return on investment for organizations.
Question 3: Did you face any delays from your sub-suppliers due to the Covid-19 situation of steel fabrication in Europe due to the current geo-political environment ? How did you overcome that?
We did, in every step of the project. For operational readiness, this meant that lead times for the delivery of some critical spare parts were much longer than usual. We mitigated this by direct ordering some spare equipment that we knew was critical much before our official spare parts list was completed. But human resources shortages also added to the challenge since suppliers had to prioritize equipment delivery over documentation. As a result, some inputs became available late and the risk mitigation was only partial.
Since all risks could not be eliminated, a big part of risk management for the project was to keep the right stakeholders informed. Many of the blocking issues that were encountered during the mandate were brought up at a steering committee involving directors from the project and operational teams. The committee was able to resolve or mitigate most of the issues, and it provided a platform where information was shared so that the few issues that could not be resolved entirely were assumed conjointly.
I had a great time presenting, and the full presentation will be on demand through 31 January 2023. Visit PMI Virtual Experience Series 2022 for more details.