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Risky Business

Primavera gives Costain a clearer view of project uncertainties.

by Alison Weiss, 2011 Primavera Special Edition

In business, perfection is a pipe dream. Managers have to do their best to anticipate business disruptions —and plan for unforeseen events. But competitive and market pressures have led business leaders to consider risk management as a way to mitigate against uncertainty.

For example, Oracle Platinum Partner Milestone Project Management Solutions helped U.K.-based construction/engineering company the Costain Group complete an enterprise-wide implementation of Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management and Oracle’s Primavera Risk Analysis. Now, Costain managers use enterprise systems to improve risk management and analysis and enhance project management with standardized best practices.

A 2010 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of 1,198 global business leaders indicates Costain is in good company. Survey findings reveal that the importance of good risk management was the most frequently cited lesson learned from the recent global financial crisis. Further, most CEOs in the engineering and construction industry are focusing on risk management—particularly on reassessing risk tolerance, integrating risk management with their business units—and allocating more resources to risk-related data gathering and analysis.

Mario Sanvitale, managing director at Milestone Project Management Solutions, believes that enterprise data quality is driving new interest. “Risk management tools have been around for 20 to 30 years, but the data that’s needed to drive them has not been available,” he says. “Now, with Primavera, you can manage risks in the way customers seek.”

Santivale notes that Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management 8 has extensive risk management functionality for strong management information and decision support and a tight link with the full Primavera Risk Analysis tool.

Working with Costain, Milestone replaced hundreds of copies of Oracle’s Primavera SureTrak with a single instance of Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management. This required a single, integrated project database to give planners, partners, and customers a real-time view of budgets, cashflow, resources, and performance compared to construction schedules. Costain also used Milestone’s guidance to leverage Primavera P6 best practices to make project management more consistent.

“Beginning in 2007, we recognized we were still planning projects independently rather than as a business that did projects,” says Phil Budden, project manager for Primavera enterprise deployment at the Costain Group. “Migrating to Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management allowed us to use [its] enterprise capabilities to coordinate what we were doing, to enable partners to collaborate from anywhere and produce better, more-consistent project management.”

Costain managers were eager to take advantage of their new Primavera implementation as a platform for improving risk management. They had held risk management workshops in the past, but deriving rigorous cost and time impacts had proven impractical. As a solution, Milestone helped Costain implement Primavera Risk Analysis, which benefits from tight integration with Primavera P6. “Risk management workshops are much more fruitful these days,” says Budden. “Teams engage more readily and, seeing the output, understand what are the key risks and why, and manage them appropriately.”

Currently, sophisticated risk management features of Primavera Risk Analysis play a key role in one of Costain’s most complex projects. The project required weekend closures of one of London’s primary transportation hubs for work that had previously been determined unlikely to be achievable in the available time. The client was adamant that Costain reopen the interchange early each Monday morning, in time for commuter trains to restart.

To address this requirement, Costain developed a detailed program, identifying discrete risks and assessing probability and duration for each. The Costain team held a series of workshops with the client and subcontractors, and the risks were routed into the project plan. The risk analysis was used to manage the closures, where hours and minutes really are critical.

Project planners who add Primavera Risk Analysis to their toolkit can use accurate, live project data to get answers about project uncertainties—and which resources are necessary to address them. Costain’s Budden states it simply: “Better risk management leads to better project management.”

 
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