Impact of planning on power generation projects

The Challenge

A client CEO asked us to provide guidance on project management on an engineering issue. He explained that all power stations had to be decommissioned regularly for routine maintenance and technology updates. The main risk with such outages was the reliable return to service of the unit in time to meet peak demand from both a statutory and financial viewpoint.

Most outages had serious risk points relating to a lack of pre-planning and definition, together with late financial approval and poor supplier management. In addition, as time to deliver ran out, each project was significantly de-scoped, leaving key works uncompleted and presenting the risk of ongoing operational inefficiencies. This was an on-going structural issue.

More urgently, he was concerned about a current outage where the return  back into service was going to be severely delayed. This presented the company with a number of significant short-term business risks.

The solution

It was clear to the Innovation team that by examining the issue with the current outage there would be two benefits.

  1. We would be able to rectify the more urgent situation.
  2. Our insights gained from solving the short-term problem would facilitate a structural solution to all future outages.

We chose to work alongside the management and engineers involved with the current outage to identify and mitigate risks. We also began to restructure the work, making sure we were doing the right things in the right order.

Secondly, we needed to ensure that we did those things in the right way. We  worked with one of the company’s internal audit team members to simultaneously carry out a full rolling audit of the process over a 4-month period. The purpose of involving an internal auditor was to:

  • Ensure we had enough resource to complete the work in time
  • Provide us with some local knowledge to avoid blind alleys
  • Ensure any conclusions were properly documented, formally, and presented within existing company governance standards.
The Outcomes

We were able to directly transfer our experience of project management to the project manager and his team, by openly sharing our techniques and ways of thinking.

We managed to retrieve the particular project and ensured the delivery of all future outages. A best practice approach was created and tailored methodology was created, which was successfully applied on a systematic basis.