From Joao Reis, Senior Manager and
Capital Projects Global Expertise Leader
T.A. Cook (tacook.com)
1. SPEND SMART
You probably need to reduce spending in to control cash flow. Therefore, now more than ever, you need to apply a robust selection process for all your projects—the ongoing ones and the projects that are due to be started. Project rationales need to be backed up by solid data. A strong “challenge-in” process is to be followed instead of a more typical “challenge-out: process. You’ll need to balance both your immediate survival (financial focus) and your future competitiveness (market focus).
2. CONTROL MINOR CAPEX
Most companies are good at focusing on the large flagship projects but, in contrast, the myriad of minor CAPEX projects mostly fly under the radar. While, in isolation, these projects are not significant, when aggregated they can accumulate to total values that easily compare with larger projects. An easy solution would be to simply apply a carpet cancellation of these minor projects. However, that could dramatically affect some critical projects (like some HSE-related projects). Clear roles and responsibilities need to be supported by an unambiguous set of rules that allow a quick and effective decision on which minor projects to either keep, postpone, or cancel.
3. FOCUS ON EFFICIENCY
When money abounds it’s easy to get away with less than optimal processes. When money is tight and every cent counts, efficiency becomes the center of attention. A cost-hunting mentality must be enforced at all levels. From top management to field supervision. From engineering to procurement, all the way through to construction.
4. TAKE THE CHANCE TO CHANGE
Yes, crises can be opportunities but only if you master the art of change management. With the right change strategy you can take advantage of the very obvious motivation, even obligation, of your teams to create new habits and new ways of working. Change is complex and demanding because you have to balance both soft components (culture and mindsets) and hard components (organization, processes, and systems). Mastering change is a tough job, but your people are never going to be more motivated than now.
5. PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE
Don’t forget the lessons learned once you’re out of the water. We will face other crises in the future and you’ll need to sustain the changes you’ve implemented. The smarter companies are the ones that are always alert, keeping a sense of urgency at all times, and never taking their hands off the wheel. Don’t just make this “the new initiative” flavor of the month. Take your teams to the next level, and perpetuate change by keeping them there.
It is essential to act fast to both navigate through this crisis and ensure your project focus is sustainable—no matter what you face in the future. To quote Warren Buffet, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” Right now razor sharp strategies and a steady hand at the helm are essential in ensuring that CAPEX positively contributes to both short-term survival and long-term sustainability.