Technology Gotchas (and Solutions) for Power Plant Project Managers

Stocksy_txp61602e4dgZO100_Medium_17053Technology has invaded nearly every corner of the business world, with tools such as robust data analytics driving more strategic decisions than ever before. For power plant project managers, technology has created a few challenges along the way. Fortunately, with the right approach, project teams can overcome these gotchas and take advantage of everything technology offers.

 

The gotcha: Systems don’t always work together as cleanly as expected

 

The technology tools used to oversee power plants often end up creating their own difficulties. One common challenge project team’s encounter is trying to work around a mish-mash of systems, each one from a different generation of hardware and software. If one of these platforms needs upgrading as part of a project, it’s likely there will be additional trickle-down implications across other systems, too. Maintaining good integration across the entire network is one challenge. Ensuring the project produces the anticipated efficiency gains and that new technology features make a positive impact on workflows can also cause frustration.

 

The solutions: Focus on the details and have a dynamic plan

 

Teams tasked with incorporating technology upgrades or expansions into a power plant project will want to look at the details of existing systems so they can identify where potential issues are likely to lurk. Will there be extra work required to make existing hardware integrate with the new system? Will bandwidth, connection points, or other components need to be updated in adjacent platforms? Are the security measures currently in place appropriate given the functionalities of the new system? Who will handle training and when will that happen? A close partnership with the IT team will help to ensure that important details aren’t missed.

 

As the project moves forward, it’s vital the team have a dynamic plan that is able to accommodate any unexpected issues—from beta testing that uncovers a glitch to a delay in the delivery of technology equipment. Project managers may need to resequence activities several times throughout the overall schedule. Being able to do that, while also getting new timetables disseminated to those completing the work, will be key in preventing any slip in the project’s final completion date.

 

The gotcha: New technology often requires big investments to reach its full potential

 

Technology projects in the power plant, such as next-generation data harvesting and analytics platforms used to better forecast production and outage planning efforts, typically require significant investment and expertise on the backend. Simply installing the software is just the first step of many before useful results can start to be generated. This presents challenges for the project team if the organization’s leadership group doesn’t understand the resource levels required to achieve the effects they desire.

 

The solutions: Develop strong communication channels and good facilitation skills

 

Ensuring robust communication across the entire stakeholder base is a core requirement for successful power plant technology projects. Executives must be aware of the project’s needs as well as its progress throughout every phase, from pre-planning to the post-project review. Clearly communicating the project’s scope and expected results are also important. Everyone needs to have the same understanding of what the project will accomplish, whether that means improving insight into the efficiency of plant operations or producing information that will be used to plan and execute the next outage.

 

Few stakeholders are likely to have a granular understanding of the backend infrastructure and expertise needed to move technology initiatives forward in a power plant environment, so facilitation skills are also a must as the team works through the questions and potential pushback that could come from any of the groups involved in the project.

Project Experience

Industry
Manufacturing
Demanding, time sensitive, and finely tuned, manufacturing projects require close attention and experienced oversight.
Industry
IT Projects
Organizations must be able to successfully execute challenging and highly visible technology projects to maximize revenue.
Industry
Power Plants
Power Plants must be able to keep these vital infrastructure assets current, efficient, and economically positive.
Industry
Energy
High-profile hurdles and expensive risks of failure make these projects critical to manage properly from the very beginning.
Industry
Aerospace
Presents complexities at nearly every stage, from allocating resources to controlling schedule variances, or clearing regulatory & safety hurdles.
Industry
Cross-Functional
Ensuring team members are able to move outside the silos of their department or discipline is the key to achieving success.
Industry
Product Dev
Design and other early-stage activities must be carefully orchestrated while maintaining visibility on future impacts and resource needs.
Industry
Mergers & Acquisitions
Among the riskiest and most strategically important initiatives a company can undertake, and their outcomes can make or break the business.
Industry
Finance & Insurance
Technology implementations call for the right level of planning detail and diligent oversight.
Industry
ERP & SAP
An ERP implementation can be among the most disruptive and strategically important initiative an organization can undertake.