Effective document control is key to capital

Effective document control is key
to capital project success
Successful processes can allocate risk and control a project’s value chain.
Mark Goodwin, McLaren Software
espite the slow global economic growth and the
recent decline in oil and gas prices, major capital
project investment appears very much on the rise. DouglasWestwood, for example, forecasts a 90% growth in deepwater expenditure between 2012 and 2016, and a recent
report from Infield Systems predicts a 50% increase in
pipeline capex over the next five years.
It is the proliferation of such huge, complex, and expensive projects that bring with them significant challenges –
particularly in relation to the control of documents.
Document control is about ensuring that all documentation and business processes adhere to business, contractual,
safety, and regulatory rules and is crucial to ensuring the
successful outcome of these major capital projects. Document control is about the processes and should not be confused with document management, which is the mechanics
of creating, reviewing, storing, and publishing documents.
It’s about creating an environment of transparency and
visibility so operators and the construction management
consortiums they contract with can track the thousands of
project-related documents, ensure that all regulatory
requirements are met, manage corporate risk, and ensure
the eventual successful handover of the project.
Fifteen years ago, only 10% of large oil and gas projects
ran more than 50% over budget; in 2011 this figure had
doubled to 20%, according to a Schlumberger Business
Consulting report. One reason for this is a failure to put
in place adequate document control practices.
While having a predominantly internal system often takes
care of integration with existing internal processes, it
often lacks the necessary scalability to expand as more
and more vendors come onboard and projects become
more complex. It also can put increased pressures on
internal resources.
One option is to select a generic document or enterprise content management platform and engage external
resources to customize the system to match internal
processes – an exercise that can become expensive and
cumbersome. An expert in document management technology is not necessarily an expert in the industry-specific
document control processes required to support a major
capital project. Using document management as a blank
canvas can lead to spiralling costs as the team learns the
business requirements on the job and at the expense of
the customer.
On the other extreme, some project owners take a completely different approach to document control and fully
outsource their information and document control systems hosted in the Cloud.
While the Cloud brings with it clear benefits, there are
potential downsides to this approach as well. These
include the difficulty of integrating Cloud-based systems
with enterprise asset information, maintenance repair
and operation, or enterprise resource planning systems.
There are also the security implications of outsourcing a
company’s own entire document control system and the
difficulties of collating and controlling the data ready for
project handover.
Finding middle ground
Document control strategy prerequisites
Some project owners tend to focus on building their own
internal document control systems. These often consist of
an in-house document control team logging the arrival of
information, capturing it electronically in a central database, and then disseminating it to the relevant parties
around the organization. Many such systems are databasedriven, supported by spreadsheets and requiring significant manual intervention.
There are a number of disadvantages to such systems.
More operators are now procuring purpose-built, commercially available project document control applications
designed to take advantage of generic document or enterprise content management platforms. This is a buildvs.-buy approach where 80% of the requirements are
provided for in the application and the remaining 20%
can be achieved by configuration of the application rather
than customization of the platform.
This approach strikes a balance between on-premise systems capable of tight integration with existing systems and
September 2012 | EPmag.com
Cloud-based project collaboration systems, where an operator can ensure consistent processes are followed by all
members of the supply chain without the risk of exposing
internal systems and networks.
Hosting the system
Certainly Cloud-based applications
have a key role to play here, providing a single platform where
project engineers can enjoy realtime collaboration across different
projects and access information
from a single, truly scalable system.
It also is important to be clear as
to the distinction between public
and private clouds. Whereas a public cloud is open to a largely unrestricted universe of potential users,
a private cloud can be restricted to
a single company with the same
level of security put in place as one
would for internal IT servers.
One such example of configuration, “light customization,” and
obtaining the right balance
between outsourced software and
processes and existing internal
resources, was a solution McLaren
recently delivered for a major oil
sands operator. Here the business
challenge was to manage and control documentation from project
startup to operations involving 2
million drawings and an additional
1,000 drawings produced per
month, 1,600 users, and access for
57 contractors based worldwide.
In this case, an enterprise-wide
document control system was provided where each business unit
had responsibility for its own documentation and management, a
formal squad check was put in
place to check all design and construction documents, secured
access was provided to contractor
personnel, and the management
of sealed master drawings was
implemented in line with government regulations.
Successful document control
processes can allocate risk and
control the project’s value chain, help develop multicontractual packages, integrate the requirements of the
project management and engineering teams, ensure
regulatory compliance, and create an auditable record
of what was sent, to whom, when, for what purpose, and
in what context.
The dangers of going on vacation
he figure illustrates how a
major capital project can go
off track because of a lack of
communication and the absence
of strong document control procedures. In this example, it concerns a replacement pump on
an offshore field.
The initial steps involve the
“Transmittal to Request revision
to Pump documentation,” which
is passed from the document
controller at the operator to
the engineer/CAD designer at
the contracting company.
The pump documentation is
revised and sent for acceptance
with the operator via its document controller and then to the
operator’s engineer. At this
stage, the process has been
closely managed, with cumulative costs of only US $10,000.
Then the engineer at the operating company went on vacation.
With 10 days having passed, the
contractor assumed that the
approved and the pump was
approved design. The pump was
then delivered to site with costs
of $62,000. The pump, however,
was found to be incompatible
with the pump fittings, the documentation was sent back for
review, and new fittings were
ordered. The delays to the next
stage of the pump system were
calculated at $100,000/day, with
cost overruns of $800,000. n
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