Wednesday Apr 27, 2016

Shared Insight: Utilities Power Up with Lifecycle Approach to Capital Projects

By: Mike Sicilia, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Primavera


Today’s utility executives, along with their colleagues in other asset-intensive industries, face formidable challenges. Growing business and regulatory complexity are constants. Layer on continued economic vulnerability along with an aging infrastructure and workforce retirements, the latter of which utility execs cite as their top two challenges – and enterprises are left at a significant disadvantage when managing capital projects.
In this precarious environment, utilities must ensure that their investments drive enterprise value, while reducing costs and improving operational efficiency. Mismanagement of capital projects can result in high cost overruns, delayed initiatives, and regulatory compliance issues ‒ further compounding present-day business hurdles. The stakes and hurdles are high – but far from impossible to surmount. Utilities that cultivate effective enterprise project portfolio management methodology and consistently embrace proactive strategies that address all stages of an initiative’s lifecycle are well positioned for success. Many of these same strategies apply and can be replicated across a wide spectrum of asset-intensive industries, such as communications, oil and gas, and engineering and construction.

A Challenging Outlook

Utility executives face a perilous balancing act when planning, building, and operating assets. While it’s vital for projects to continuously deliver results, many face an upward battle from the start, well before they become operational. For example, an Accenture report found that only 39 percent of utilities capital projects were completed on budget, and less than half on schedule.

Several factors are at work – each of which underscores the compelling need for careful management and precise execution at every turn:

  • Limited Capital: Limited availability, through either the markets or internal funding, means that capital for major projects is not only scarce, but also costly and requires close management to ensure an acceptable return-on-investment (ROI)
  • Aging Infrastructure: In the United States, the power delivery system – like many other types of national infrastructure ‒ is based on technology developed and installed decades years ago – resulting in an increasing number of power disruptions and heightened vulnerability to cyber attack
  • Regulatory Uncertainty: The regulatory environment continues to grow more complex, causing some utilities to err on the side of caution by stifling potentially innovative capital projects
  • Constrained Workforce: Thirty-two percent of the utility workforce will retire in the next 10 to 15 years, according to the 2014 Aging Utility Workforce report by Interactive Intelligence Group Inc., and many utilities are struggling to recruit new talent to replace these valued resources. The oil and gas as well as communications industries face similar realities. The highly skilled workers exiting the workforce will take 30 to 40 years of institutional and subject matter knowledge and expertise with them. Most of this knowledge has not been captured and operationalized in modern systems ‒ leaving enterprises at risk
  • Costly Raw Materials: As economic, regulatory, and environmental factors exert upward price pressures on many raw materials, utilities find it harder to acquire them at reasonable costs

Embracing All Aspects of the Project Lifecycle to Drive Success

So, how can a utility, and other asset-intensive organizations, overcome these challenges and ensure capital project success?

First, it’s important to consider the complete project lifecycle at the start of an initiative – from planning and execution to operation and maintenance, and ultimately, decommissioning ‒ and involve all key internal and external stakeholders throughout the process. Securing early input from employees, who will be responsible for infrastructure maintenance and ultimately have ownership of the asset, is crucial. Their insight and knowledge can reduce the long-term costs of operating the asset as well as the risk of decommissioning the project down the line.

There is no question that adopting a complete lifecycle approach to capital projects is a complex undertaking. It requires real-time enterprise-wide insight, sophisticated “what-if” modeling, and knowledge capture that traditional spreadsheet-based project management models cannot deliver.

That’s where enterprise project portfolio management (EPPM) methodologies and solutions enter the picture. In addition to automating and operationalizing processes, EPPM solutions equip utility executives to evaluate and prioritize projects across the enterprise. They also provide full visibility into the project lifecycle, enabling organizations to track performance and costs, model and mitigate risks, and manage people and resources across the organization to streamline processes and optimize available assets.

As utilities executives continue to face a vast array of challenges and scenarios, EPPM solutions have a distinct and essential role to contribute at each stage of the project management lifecycle:

  • Planning: Effective planning is particularly important when choosing the capital projects that will deliver the greatest value. A solid portfolio solution uses repeatable governance processes and consistent evaluation metrics – helping to ensure an enterprise is equipped to choose investment proposals, fund strong business cases, perform “what-if” scenarios, and analyze performance progress
  • Execution: EPPM solutions enable staff to review construction progress in various regions and on multiple projects, improving communication between all parties involved on a project, while helping project directors manage incoming demand and prioritize projects and activities based on the organization’s overall objectives. By providing these capabilities, an EPPM solution can successfully link people, teams, and projects – offering complete control of a capital project’s lifecycle
  • Operation and Maintenance: The tools a utility uses in the planning and building stages are just as essential during the project’s ongoing maintenance. A project’s profitability depends largely on scheduling and deploying resources in the most efficient manner across all maintenance activities. When an asset is offline for maintenance, it’s not generating revenue – but an EPPM solution can help a utility to plan, schedule, and manage maintenance to optimize resources, asset value, and uptime
  • Decommissioning: The decommissioning phase of an asset lifecycle is the last thing that a utility project manager wants to consider during the planning, execution, and even early operational stages. This mindset, however, can create additional expense and risk in the future. EPPM solutions can play a vital role in capturing and operationalizing information that is vital to the distant decommissioning phase. When it’s time for decommissioning, EPPM methodologies and tools are essential to a managing on-time and on-budget initiatives, just as they are when bringing a new asset online.

Set the Stage for Success

While EPPM solutions can drive success across the end-to-end project lifecycle, they can also have significant impact on asset optimization during individual phases.

For instance, a large utility in Canada uses EPPM methodology and solutions to manage its resources. In the past, the company filled service orders for construction and maintenance work via multiple manual processes and a series of highly customized and poorly integrated software systems for workforce management. The company, which deployed Oracle’s Primavera solutions, has improved its ability to plot work activities and determine what resources will be required to supplement existing resources. It can now also easily consolidate requirements for the peak project season by specific geographies. The utility has increased efficiency by shifting dispatching of resources to schedules in local offices and has gained the ability to effectively coordinate and manage resources based on local conditions and constraints – yielding greater efficiency and value from assets.
Utilities – as well as other types of asset-intensive enterprises ‒ have witnessed dynamics business transformation in recent years to a much more volatile and competitive marketplace. Now, more than ever, these organizations depend on EPPM solutions to propel capital projects forward through a gauntlet of challenges by improving collaboration and communication, better managing resources to ensure the right people are on the job at the right time, and mitigating and managing project risk.

Monday Mar 07, 2016

Two Worlds Colliding

By: Krista Lambert, Director, Engineering & Construction Strategy, Oracle Primavera

Bringing together the best of both worlds

Site foremen are formidable people. You don’t want to feel the force of their frustration. When someone else’s mistake plays havoc with their plans or makes them miss deadlines, it can create unbearable situations.

But you can avoid frustrating your foremen with short interval planning. It’s a technique used in Lean Construction, designed to flush inefficiency out of the system. The technique relies on frequent and open collaboration on the job. The idea is that short-term plans are created daily to adapt to changing circumstances, ensuring employees are not left scratching their heads with nothing to do.

But it has its shortcomings.

It could miss important dependencies in the project which, if ignored, could delay completion. Since the 1940s the critical path method has been developed to seek out these dependencies, showing project managers where to focus their energies if they want to avoid being late.

And yet the critical path method is often set against short interval planning as if project managers and planners must pick one method or the other to succeed. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

The tools and technologies to bring the two approaches together – and get the best from both – are available today. The reality is that an open approach can help you stay in touch with the project whatever is thrown at you at any stage of the project giving you greater control.

To discover more, read our latest business brief.

Monday Feb 29, 2016

Solve the Decommissioning Dilemma

By: Guy Barlow, director, industry strategy, Oracle Primavera

Decommissioning might be a rather dry phase of the asset lifecycle, but it is essential. And, at the same time, it is becoming increasingly costly and risk-laden – in 2014, total decommissioning spending came to between $1.6 and $1.8 billion.[1] For decades, it has been relegated to afterthought status in many industries, including the oil and gas (O&G) sector. Businesses instead have focused the bulk of their attention on bringing new projects online as rapidly and cost-effectively as possible to optimize production volumes and maximize revenue.

Times are changing, however. According to Decomworld’s Offshore Decommissioning Report, the drop in crude oil prices has shifted perceptions on decommissioning activity, and with this, the number of decommissioning projects is expected to rise as high as 250 in 2015 and 2016, from 210 in 2014. Federal regulations and declining shelf production have caused decommissioning projects, specifically in the Gulf of Mexico, to see record levels of activity, generating roughly $9 billion in spending and, as of January 2015, the market is valued at $26 billion.

As a result, O&G companies, as well as their counterparts in other asset-intensive industries, are rapidly realizing the need to better plan for and manage the final mile of their assets as carefully as they do their initial construction.

Roadblocks on the Path to Success

Aberdeen Group reported that less than 25 percent of asset-intensive organizations have a plan in place for decommissioning assets. Several factors are driving this surprising statistic:

  • Increased Focus on New Assets. New assets and infrastructure are vital to ensuring the scale and reliability needed to achieve agility in the volatile O&G industry. As such, enterprises are very focused on completing these new projects on time and on budget.
  • Asset Lifecycle is Stretched Thin. O&G companies, for example, are looking to squeeze every last drop of productivity out of their assets, especially as markets tighten and prices decline. This often involves extending lifecycles well beyond the original targets.
  • Resources are Limited. Enterprises today must frequently choose between applying skilled resources on new projects as opposed to using them to plan for or proceed with decommissioning. And, as decommissioning activity is expected to surge in the next year, there will be more pressure on offshore equipment resources causing industry experts to take a more collaborative approach to maximize resources with minimal costs.1

Focusing solely on these shorter-term considerations can create formidable challenges in the future—essentially, enterprises are overlooking the considerable opportunity costs, potential operational risks, and financial repercussions associated with a mismanaged decommissioning project.

Last, but Certainly Not Least

Although it’s the last step in the asset lifecycle, decommissioning should be approached with the same deliberation as the design, build, and operate phases as it carries significant risk. And, as the drop in crude oil prices causes the number of structure removals to rise, it is now even more important for O&G organizations to ensure they have an effective approach in place to carry out the decommissioning process.1

So what can O&G companies and other asset-intensive enterprises do? Here are six strategies that our customers have used to ensure successful decommissioning initiatives:

  1. Collaborate Early and Often. Involve all key stakeholders throughout the lifecycle planning process to define and validate project scope and approach. This includes facility managers, line-of-business leaders, risk officers, as well as executive management—and encompasses multiple external stakeholders—contractors, partners, as well as local, state, and Federal regulators who have jurisdiction over the project. It is also important to seek early input from individuals who manage and decommission the asset, as they can provide important insight into design features that can reduce the cost and risk of decommissioning decades later.

  2. Create a Centralized Plan Repository With the Ability to Embed Risk Assessment Into the Plan. These repositories are often the core of enterprise project portfolio management (EPPM) solutions. Organizations can embed risk information into these repositories and the resulting plans, enabling them to prepare and react to unforeseen issues, perform “what if” scenarios, and monitor the status of a project to approve, continue, and optimize decommissioning projects. Having this information repository in place is vital so that organizations have the institutional knowledge to effectively decommission an asset when it has reached end of life.

  3. Optimize Resources. As resources become increasingly scarce and expensive, stakeholders need complete and real-time visibility into the skill sets at their disposal, as well as where and how resources are deployed throughout the organization. It is also critical to standardize procedures for selecting resources and predefine exception processes. Working within this framework, leaders can accurately identify required skills and resources and effectively map them to project requirements, enabling them to avoid delays, mistakes, and cost overruns.

  4. Ensure Real-time Visibility Into Projects and Performance. Leaders require real-time visibility into project performance, including progress and budget adherence, and must be able to share this information with internal and external stakeholders. Clear insight into milestones achieved and missed, status updates, budget versus actual spend, and work breakdown structure updates are essential. With this approach, businesses can better determine and plan effectively for end of life to optimize return on investment.

  5. Equip Managers With Tools Needed to Plan and Execute. Automating the asset lifecycle management process is increasingly essential—the days of spreadsheets and paper-based processes are long gone. Leaders should look for tools like EPPM that can automate processes such as scheduling, costing, project management, reporting, and collaboration. At a strategic level, these changes could open doors to improved strategy execution, operational excellence, and financial performance across the entire enterprise, to ultimately ensure that projects are not only completed within budget and on time, but also to drive long-term value that aligns with business objectives.

  6. Focus on Continuous Improvement. Always take time to assess progress and capture knowledge for future initiatives. Leading enterprises bake continuous improvement into their standard operating procedures for project management and benefit greatly from continued evolution of best practices.

O&G companies, along with other types of asset-intensive enterprises, can set a solid foundation to support current and future customer demands by embracing a holistic approach to asset lifecycle management. With project management best practices, careful planning, and proven methodologies and technology solutions, these organizations can finally put an end to decommissioning distress.


[1] Upstream Intelligence, “Spike in GoM Decommissioning Quickens Need for Deepwater Expertise,” October 5, 2015 http://analysis.upstreamintel.com/deepwater/spike-gom-decommissioning-quickens-need-deepwater-expertise

Wednesday Feb 24, 2016

Oracle Delivers a New Contract Management Solution Customized for Engineering and Construction

Oracle Delivers a New Contract Management Solution Customized for Engineering and Construction

The new Oracle Contract Management cloud accelerator gives engineering and construction project teams a range of new tools for more closely controlling contract management and keeping costs in line with project expectations. Find out what the solution's key benefits are and where to learn more. [Read More]

Tuesday Nov 24, 2015

The Benefits of Moving to Cloud PPM

To stay ahead in today’s competitive landscape, business units demand access to innovation. They want it fast, and they want it now. But increasingly, IT groups can’t keep up with rapid advancements in technology. In fact, the No. 1 problem facing IT departments today is nonstop demand, according to research firm Gartner. Demand for more capabilities, faster connection to the Internet, more computing capability, storage, networking and human resources is increasing at a rapid rate, with no let-up in sight.

Businesses that want a competitive edge today are moving to the cloud to keep pace with innovation. Right now, more than 360,000 projects are being managed in Oracle’s Primavera cloud, representing $250 billion in project budgets managed each year.

These companies know that moving software to the cloud can bridge the growing gap between current software and the newest versions while raising the bar on performance. Overloaded IT personnel have the help of trained professionals and can focus on keeping the business satisfied. Updates are regularly scheduled, all the newest capabilities are available and handled by the service provider, and security is ensured as partners and contractors access systems to collaborate on projects.

Cloud computing yields substantial economies of scale and skill, while lowering costs, according to The Hurwitz Group. The total cost of ownership of running software in the cloud can be 77% less than on-premise, according to the Yankee Group.

Still not convinced? Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Cloud Service offers even more benefits to moving to a SaaS model.

A Platform for Business Agility

Cloud services allow companies to take advantage of world-class infrastructure and a much more robust IT environment than what most currently have in house.

The cloud infrastructure supports high speed, load balanced environments, which means companies can quickly scale up or scale down without over- or under-utilizing their investment spend on servers. It also guarantees system availability of more than 99%.

Primavera spends over a million hours of development effort every year to quickly bring new capabilities to users. Of course, it would be nearly impossible to consume all those updates in house while tackling other IT responsibilities. With cloud services, you can upgrade seamlessly to make sure you’re always on the latest version and can take advantage of new capabilities.

Primavera schedules two releases every year for its flagship Primavera P6 PPM suite -- in the fall and spring – so you can plan on innovative functional enhancements being introduced at a regular cadence. If you’re in the middle of a project or a critical issue and want to hold off, Primavera’s cloud team can schedule the upgrade to match your schedule.

Enhanced Support and Best Practices

Cloud services take a lot of pressure off IT departments when it comes to break-fixes, uptime and best practices. In the cloud, Oracle is responsible for your success. Subscription models replace upfront license fees, so Oracle’s entire business model of recurring revenue is dependent upon customers’ satisfaction and usage. They’ll work hard to make sure you stay.

Companies can also keep up with best practices by taking advantage of the cloud’s staging environment. Here they can test new software before moving it into production.

Taking the Plunge

Moving to the cloud may seem daunting, but Primavera’s team of professionals can do most of the work for you.

Scalability – When you’ve decided on Primavera P6 EPPM as a service, a team of Primavera’s most seasoned developers is the first to start work. The team’s highly skilled pros are responsible for sizing and configuration options to ensure you’re going to get the optimal solution.

Security – There’s always some nervousness when thinking of moving corporate data to the cloud. The Primavera cloud uses a single tenant model. That means only a single instance of a software application and supporting infrastructure serves one customer. They set up an environment that is solely used for you.

Security extends to third-party interactions, even using mobile devices. Projects almost always involve stakeholders outside the company, and information is constantly imported and exported into systems. With cloud services, you don’t have to worry about giving access to third parties into your network. In the cloud, project leaders can confidently roll out mobile solutions and give third parties access to networks because Oracle is managing the security.

Cost – When considering a move to the cloud, companies often compare only the costs of a cloud subscription fee with the cost of on-premise software, but there are other costs to consider. When calculating costs, think about annual maintenance costs of on-premise software, yearly costs for maintenance on databases and middleware, hardware and networking costs, and floor space for hosting servers.

The Primavera P6 EPPM Cloud Solution

Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Cloud Service includes Primavera P6 Professional - the desktop client, Primavera P6 Web Interfaces for project and resource management, Primavera P6 Team Member -- the solutions that lets staff enter status updates via mobile devices from the field, Oracle BI Publisher -- the reporting engine embedded in the Web, and Web Services.

Also enabled with Primavera P6 Cloud Service are Oracle BPM for workflow requirements, and Oracle’s AutoVue for in-depth collaboration with technical and business documents without the need for CAD tools.

Companies can also add on Primavera Analytics for deep reporting. Cloud functionality with this solution is identical to on-premise functionality, with no difference in the interface.

Conclusion

Today’s business pressures have IT departments overwhelmed and make it tough to keep up with software upgrades. Updating requires time, purchases, resources and money that many IT departments don’t have. Some have even settled into the status quo and have postponed upgrades to avoid disruptions or maybe even failures.

As the years go by, that gap widens between older versions and the newest software features – making updates even more elusive – at least until something major breaks, and you can’t avoid the problem any longer.

Moving to the cloud can solve these problems. Leading companies already know that moving Primavera P6 to the cloud gives them access to Oracle’s world-class infrastructure, guarantees timely updates, provides all of the features of Primavera P6, frees up IT staff and saves money.

Don’t fall into the upgrade void. Bridge the gap by moving to the cloud.

Wednesday Nov 11, 2015

Stop Wasting My Time

By: Krista Lambert, Director, Engineering & Construction Strategy, Oracle Primavera

Make better bids, win better work

The average engineering and construction firm only wins one in every four bids for capital asset projects. For a $1 billion company, that’s around $75 million wasted on failed bids every year.

The industry has always worked this way, and some executives will justify the waste as a cost of doing business. But there is another way of looking at it.

Given the costs, it’s no surprise that engineering and construction businesses are picky about the jobs they bid for. The question is, whether they can target more profitable work, improve their chances of winning each bid, or launch more bids with fewer resources? The answer is they can do all three.

Unlocking the value of knowledge

In geographically dispersed businesses, bids are managed autonomously by local teams. Valuable experience and knowledge is often lost to the rest of the organization. This might be based on analysis of opportunities in the marketplace, costings for materials, researching the supply base or understanding a potential client’s wants and needs. There’s a huge opportunity to pool this knowledge across the organization and improve bid quality while lowering cost.

Currently, too many organizations are comfortable with a lack of collaboration which leads to errors and omissions, increasing costs and lowering the chances of success. But tools exist that can ensure data is shared throughout the organization, and readily available to anyone who needs it. And when you’re bidding for new jobs, knowledge is not only power. It’s also profit.

To discover more, read our latest business brief.

Monday Nov 02, 2015

New Report Finds Top Travel and Transportation Companies Use Project Portfolio Management to Gain a Competitive Edge

A new study by the Aberdeen Group reports that leaders in the travel and transportation industry distinguish themselves from less-successful peers by excelling at selecting and managing complex projects. Get your copy of the report and discover Aberdeen’s five steps for enabling transformative projects in travel and transportation infrastructure organizations.

Read More

[Read More]

Monday Oct 05, 2015

Don’t Be Late

By: Garrett Harley, Director, Engineering & Construction Strategy, Oracle Primavera

Don’t be late, be better informed

If nothing else, construction and engineering projects present ample opportunity to fail. Complexity in assets, supply chains, finance, workforce skills and client requirements all present risk that could jeopardise success. A small slippage or error in any of these areas can easily cascade through the project to contribute to catastrophic failure. It’s little wonder construction and engineering project management is such a tough job.

In a survey of 304 senior executives from a variety of asset-intensive industries, more than a third said they miss their budget (39%) and schedule (34%) targets on major projects at least a quarter of the time[1]. The study by the Economist Intelligence Unit also found more than 60 percent blamed unexpected change for at least half of all project overruns.

The answer is in the data

It’s true that data is everywhere. But finding that nugget of data can help to reduce risk and improve the chances of success. To achieve this, you need to have the ability to manipulate your data in searching for better questions….this is where there is real value.

Every project creates a huge volume of data. From the bid process through to the project’s handover to clients or operators, there is a myriad of Word files, spreadsheets, PDFs and databases. But is the small valuable data easy to find and use? And is it available to the right people at the right time?

There are five main areas where construction and engineering firms are benefiting from improving how they organize and access data:

1. Lead to contract execution: win the right work with the right customers, at the right margins

2. Project and construction execution: manage change while reducing risk and improving margins

3. Digital handover: simplifying the transition to Operation and Maintenance

4. Project visualization: simulating construction sequences and spotting challenges

5. Lifecycle data hub: organizing data and making it coherent

But as with anything in life, it’s impossible to eliminate risk. But you can improve the chances of success.

To discover more, read our latest business brief.



[1] Building in change: Project construction in asset-intensive industries http://www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/primavera/building-in-change-eiu-report-1489240.pdf

Thursday May 14, 2015

Oracle’s New Cloud Accelerator Improves Control of Large Infrastructure Projects

The need for infrastructure investment is growing, as are the opportunities to improve productivity. To help meet these challenges and opportunities, Oracle released its public infrastructure monitoring cloud accelerator, a new solution for selecting, planning, and monitoring the performance of public infrastructure development projects. Find out how your organization can use it to track complex infrastructure projects and programs to know exactly where they stand in terms of cost, schedule, scope, and resource demands.
Read More

[Read More]

Thursday May 07, 2015

Oracle’s New Contract Management Cloud Accelerator Keeps Engineering and Construction Projects on Track

The engineering and construction industry has a new resource to help achieve project goals: Oracle’s contract management cloud accelerator. The accelerator provides preconfigured business processes, enabling companies to quickly start managing contracts and controlling change throughout the project lifecycle. In addition, the solution allows for future business growth and expanded requirements. Find out how the new accelerator can help your business today.
Read More


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