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Lesson Details

Roger Esson


In planning a decommissioning project, and whilst such projects differ from capital investment projects in many ways, it’s important to remember the basic disciplines and guidelines of successful project management

In a number of cases, difficulties have been encountered, delays have occurred and scope and cost increased which could have been anticipated, avoided, resolved or eliminated by following basic good practice in project management. As examples from previous projects: • Conductor removal programme experienced slippage which caused knock-on delays to the overall plan • Scope and objectives of project were not fully appreciated at commencement so company procedures were not implemented until later in execution, causing confusion and repeat work • Opportunities for scope reduction and schedule improvement were only appreciated and implemented late in the project after experienced discipline engineers were introduced into the team • Agreements with third party operators were not in place before work commenced, leading to delays caused by required personnel not being available and misunderstanding of required preparation activities • Significant requests for variation were submitted causing delay and increasing cost and risk due to inadequate scope preparation, loose contractual agreements and poor understanding of interfaces

Project team resolved each of the issues on a case by case basis. Opportunities for better performance were noted. Cost and schedule may have been adversly affected, in some cases severely

Projects were concluded so the measures which the project teams implemented can be regarded as successful. However, the expectations of predictable cost, schedule and scope achievement were not necessarily met and the opportunity for the contractor to optimise his own performance were reduced.

Managing scope, schedule and budget and getting the balance right between them are classic project management skills. Whilst schedule may be less important for decommissioning than an investment project, the disciplines and good practice remain the same. In planning a decommissioning project, apply best practice, including: • Ensure the objectives are clearly understood - What constitutes project conclusion and success? • Plan the work holistically – consider all aspects of the work and include in a master plan with interfaces clearly identified and managed • Review all elements on the critical path and engineer the work to remove items from the critical path or minimise the impact of them • Establish the contracting policy clearly and early in the project • Appraise suppliers' abilities thoroughly before letting contracts – Assign risk to contractor only where he is able to assess and bear it • Contracting policy firm but not immutable, encompassing management of change and risk with flexibility to react to unforeseen events • Experienced project manager with maximum authority in overall charge • Strong top management support • Adequate sized team, organised appropriately • Commitment to making the contract work and the project a success • Focus effort on opportunities within the plan at the earliest stage • Effective communications • Accurate control information on the state of the project. • Realistic cost control and forecasting including escalation and contingencies • Effective and appropriate design, project management and control procedures






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