Effective Turnaround Steering Teams

Effective Turnaround Steering Teams

One aspect of process plant maintenance turnaround preparation efficiency that is often overlooked is the role of the steering team in ensuring turnaround success. In recent years it has become clear that a well-functioning Steering Team (or Steering Committee) is a vital component in successful turnaround preparation, planning, and execution.

Frequently, process plant site leadership members are unsure of what their role should be on a Turnaround Steering Team and where and how they can be effective in helping to ensure the success of their site turnaround.

The role of a steering team member is to “drive” all aspects of turnaround preparation, including providing oversight, providing support and providing leadership. Too many steering team members view their role as “passive”, being informed of progress by the turnaround manager and only stirring into action if the Turnaround Manager reports a problem that he or she needs more senior management “heft” to resolve. But the true role of the steering team member can be summarized in four main headings:

  1. Scope:
  • Defining the business objectives of the turnaround event, defining the consequent “rules” for inclusion of scope in the event, and providing management enforcement in ensuring that the staff in their area of responsibility stick to those agreed “rules” for scope inclusion.
  1. Readiness:
  • Approving the “Plan-to-Plan” of preparation and planning activities and enforcing adherence to the target dates for deliverables and activities within that plan.
  1. Resources:
  • Ensuring that all disciplines have the resources (in terms of workers, time away from other responsibilities, and materials) that they need in order to complete their assigned tasks and adhere to the delivery dates in the “Plan-to-Plan”.
  1. Risks
  • Retaining oversight of the Risk Register and leading the management of risks to the turnaround event’s success.

Of these four essential tasks, many steering teams only recognize number 3, the provision of resources, as being an ongoing role. Too many steering teams view the other tasks as being something that the Turnaround Manager is not only responsible for, but also accountable for. This is incorrect; for turnaround success the steering team needs to be actively involved in all four of those areas.

One technique to ensure that steering team members are actively involved is to examine how the steering team meetings are run. If the meeting comprises the Turnaround Manager setting the agenda, calling the meeting, presenting the progress report, and (inevitably) receiving most of the actions arising, then there is a problem. A better option is to ask each member of the steering team to report on those four topics for all of the workers and activities in their area of responsibility, be it operations, projects, health & safety, procurement or another discipline. This forces active involvement of each steering team member and it enlists the help of the entire steering team in ensuring that each steering team member “pulls their weight” in terms of progressing the preparations for the turnaround and feels accountable for the success of the turnaround.

If you feel that your turnaround steering team is unsure of its role, or that your steering team is not functioning as effectively as it could, contact Becht for help with advice and mentoring.






About The Author

Gordon is a Chartered Chemical Engineer with over 30 years of experience in capital project management and maintenance turnaround preparation and planning. This experience has been gained with owner, contractor and consulting organizations working at onshore and offshore facilities across the globe. Gordon specializes in project and turnaround preparation, planning best practices, and execution control; this includes front-end development, estimating, risk mitigation and change control. He has published a number of articles in technical magazines and several cost estimating recommended practices with the AACE-I. He is a dual-national British/French, residing in The Hague, The Netherlands.

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Effective Turnaround Steering Teams

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