From David Fleming, Senior Manager
T.A. Cook (tacook.com)
During the period of the pandemic, management in asset-intensive businesses have had to make major decisions with regard to their STO events: Should they be postponed; continue as planned; and/or be split up and spread across several years? For STO Managers who have a planned event coming up in the next 6 to 12 months, the challenge is to focus and get back on track with their preparation, while considering pandemic protocols that have an uncertain end date and remain in place at a local, regional, and global level. T.A. Cook’s David Fleming offers the following recommendations to help sites prepare more efficiently in the current restricted environment.
1. TRACK AND TRACE
The uncertainty of the pandemic puts further strains on the progress of preparation for any STO. Project transparency and increased communication is vital, as any deviation could further impact the preparation. With this in mind, micromanagement of key tasks and their deliverables is recommended by tracking progress using a countdown schedule of these tasks.
Uncertainty increases the level of risk, not only with the threat of new risks, but also regarding common deliverables such as availability of resources and services, on-time material deliveries, and travel and transportation. Therefore frequent workshops to identify risks and trace impact of mitigations implemented are strongly advised.
2. RE-ASSESS STO ACTIVITIES
Based on our experience, 1,000 daily workers, as a maximum during STO execution, is the recommended optimum. Any higher and you increase complexity and start to impact productivity and safety, and invite greater risk. With the addition of pandemic protocols, that optimal capacity will most likely decrease. Therefore, in these circumstances, we advise that scope be reduced accordingly. Scope deferral or delay, where possible, is recommended. One useful tip is to prepare STO-specific work that can be picked up and executed in a short period of time to take advantage of any unplanned stops.
3. IDENTIFY THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL DISTANCING
It is evident that social distancing and other health and safety precautions will have an impact on the development of your STO plans. It is strongly recommended that you re-assess your approach for the following elements, and consider them carefully: from organization structure; work planning and resource mobilization to logistics, developing your training plan and, in particular, how you develop and optimize the schedule. By not doing this, turnaround duration and costs will likely escalate.
4. THINK LOCAL
With travel limited, rules varying between countries, the prospect of future waves of COVID-19, and a potential inflation factor to cover higher travel costs, agreeing to contracts with companies that are not local could increase the risk to your STO. We advise you to consider increasing the proportion of contracts issued with more localized service providers, or assigning more of the work to day-to-day maintenance-frame contracts. If this is not possible, include clauses in your contracts to ensure a large percentage of staff is sourced locally. This may result in smaller packs of work being assigned to individual contractors, so be prepared for it to lead to an increase in the number of vendors with whom you work.
5. SECURE AVAILABILITY OF SPECIALISTS
We expect high demands for specialist trades and services over the next 6 to 12 months, as businesses ramp up their maintenance and project requirements. Add in the factors highlighted above with regard to contracts in general, and we advise that pre-contracts be initiated for specialists as quickly as possible to ring-fence your site’s resource and service requirements. Detailed contracts can be finalized as you get closer to the start of the event.
COVID-19 induced protocols, and uncertainty about the future bring additional risk and forced changes to established processes and ways-of-working. What might have worked in the past will have to be quickly re-assessed. Elements such as scope, organization structure and resourcing, planning and scheduling, contractor selection, and logistical plans of the STO may now look different, in terms of preparation, than they did in the past.
Tighter control, micromanagement between now and the start of your STO is, therefore, essential. Identifying and mitigating risks, as well as securing local resources, is paramount to success. Project transparency and communication is always important, but it now becomes vital to avoid any deviation that could further impact STO preparation.