Keeping the Lights On: Transform your business today to meet the challenges of tomorrow

Written by: Iain Graham, Director, Process Manufacturing Strategy, Oracle Primavera

In all the years I’ve worked with the energy and utilities sector, it seems that two things remain constant: the need to replace or repair ageing infrastructure and the apparent low level of funds available to many organizations to do so. In many instances, the infrastructure that these organizations rely on is ageing faster than it is being replaced. I suspect those tasked with keeping these assets up and running might recognize the phrases “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and “out of sight, out of mind” when seeking more investment for preventative work. Yet failure to adequately address ageing infrastructure can cause a big headache for many companies, diverting resources and funds to remedial action and possibly impeding growth.

Customers don’t always fully understand the issues energy and utility companies face and expect a reliable yet lowest-cost service. The result is that, pushed to keep costs down, companies continue to sweat their infrastructure assets beyond their original intended life so as to maximize operational value, while even further demands are placed on those assets through growth. This approach brings increased risk of an infrastructure failure and no one wants to be to blame when the lights go out.

A new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), based on a global survey of executives in the oil & gas, utility, chemical and natural resource industries, examines the impact of ageing infrastructure. A key finding in the report is that one of the biggest perceived obstacles for organizations is meeting infrastructure maintenance schedule and budget goals, resulting in poor project planning, regulatory interference and a lack of resources. In addressing those obstacles, there are things some companies may do to ease the problem of aging infrastructure, without necessarily requiring large-scale additional funding. The report found that many organizations believed they could overcome obstacles, meet budget and expansion goals through better planning processes. Deploying enterprise project portfolio management (EPPM) could help to optimize use of key resources, improve planning and project execution, and prioritize the right projects, amongst other benefits.

You can read the full report here.

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