Who's In the Boat?

Mar 15, 2017 -

Importance of Senior Management Commitment to Integrated Startup Planning

The issue is a lack of alignment among leadership when it comes to planning for startup and project execution. Different segments of businesses have different perspectives, and therefore different areas of focus. 

Let me illustrate - once there were four people in a boat. The boat had a hole at one end where two people at the leaking end were bailing water like crazy. The other two looked at each other and one said, “I am glad that we are not at that end of the boat.” Planning for startup is essential – whether in project execution or project delivery, success ultimately hinges on how well the project performs during startup. Guess what? We’re all in the same boat.

Startup is the phase where everything comes together – construction is completing, automation systems are in place, and we’re ready to turn the “on switch” for a project. Team members lose site of the fact that the project isn’t complete until the industrial unit is in full operation – and that a poor, unplanned startup can be detrimental to project success. Here are important communications for your project teams:

  • Startup success is driven by the amount of planning for startup

  • Project success is directly related to the level of startup success

  • Startup success requires a commitment to startup planning by all three management stakeholders: the business unit, the plant’s operations, and the owner’s project management

Reaching alignment between business unit management and key project leaders is key, and it should take place early on in the life of the project. The creation of and continuous development of a startup plan will help to achieve this goal and can be included in the overall Project Execution Plan (PEP). This will help to have a well-defined path forward for that phase of the project. Let’s not forget the input of operations! Operations have a very significant role. They must commit resources throughout the project planning process to ensure correct input from the right people happens at the right time. Adequate support and early input from operations are critical to the success of startup. They must fully understand the project-specific startup needs and risks. Early basic steps include:

  • Fully understand the project’s business plan

  • Define and understand the technology transfer aspect of the project

  • Identify all key stakeholders roles and the delegates that are responsible for those roles

  • Understand project team needs and gaps within the organization

  • Understand the critical path and milestone project schedule

  • Define an order-of-magnitude of the project’s planning activities for the development of a successful startup plan

Many companies have challenges that they continually face in this phase of the project due to limited resource availability and are operating on an outdated paradigm of how to plan for startup. Hargrove is committed to and involved with the Construction Industry Institute (CII), who provides industry best practices for Commissioning and Startup. In using these best practices, one can clearly define and execute a plan to help better predict a successful startup.

Does your team need help getting everyone in the same boat? Do you have questions about how to plan and execute a successful project startup? Reach out to the experts at Hargrove by contacting us at startup@hargrove-epc.com

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