29 July 2019

Client Experiences #1 - Massive Upgrade

When I first started working with our new client, I started out as a general trainer for the company’s employees. Our work began with typical P6 stuff, nothing new or especially exciting, but it was the start of a longer, more involved relationship with our client. I started helping them with turnarounds back in 2013 and I've been doing turnarounds with them every year since. I recently finished my 6th turnaround with the company - an 11-12 week long process that honestly felt a lot longer than it was. Due to a problem organizing the order of units, we ran overtime, and that was unfortunately just one of the many issues we had to deal with during that turnaround.

As is often the case, a good amount of the complications we faced were unintentionally self-inflicted. Our client runs under an alliance contract umbrella with another organization that controls their project management and general processes. This organization had decided to do a major upgrade to P6 just a few weeks ahead of the turnaround execution. This naturally caused a lot of complications, as the workers involved in the turnaround had to do a lot of scrambling to figure out the bugs in the untested upgrades while simultaneously dealing with the turnaround itself, which was no easy task. On top of this, the upgrade to P6 wasn't just a standard upgrade - it was a move from version 6.2 to version 17, which is a big jump on any given day, but right before a turnaround... It was disastrous. There were all sorts of issues, including considerable trouble upon first-log in, and it created a lot of stress - way more than even on the typical turnaround! Units were in shutdown, people were pulling 12 and a half hour long shifts, the site was an hour away from where most of the personnel were stationed, IT issues were causing immense frustration - it seemed like everything that could go wrong did.

Now, I've been in quite a few panicked, rushed environments over my 8 years of turnaround assistance, and this could easily have been one of them, but luckily the majority of the schedulers dealt with it very well, keeping their heads despite the setbacks we faced. And as for me - I went in with my usual mentality: get it done. So despite the constant uphill battle, we managed to pull everything together and get through the turnaround with our sanity intact. Overall, it wasn't the easiest turnaround I've ever been a part of, but complications are part of the job, and I'm happy to say that another yearly turnaround with our client went by successfully - if maybe a little bumpier than usual!

About the Author

Mary Lynn Backstrom, PMP, PMI-SP, PMI-BA – Implementation Specialist

Mary Lynn spent many years filling a variety of project controls duties such as planning, scheduling, analyzing, training and continuous improvement in the Aerospace Industry.  Since joining Emerald in 2008 she has been a tremendous asset to the Emerald team.

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