A chemical plant was spending approximately $20 million annually on plant-based projects, or small projects managed at the site. However, many of the site projects did not deliver the promised benefits, and site leadership was frustrated with the site’s inability to fast track high-return projects. Corporate leadership was concerned by the inefficient use of capital and the poor project outcomes. The site had a very large backlog of capital projects, and excessive effort was expended on projects during front-end planning due to a range of inefficiencies. Projects were constantly changing priorities and were rebaselined because project selection was week.
AP-Canada worked with site leadership and the project organization to assess the performance of the project portfolio and the drivers of project performance. We collected information on the site’s $20 million capital expenditure, the portfolio of capital projects, the outcomes of projects, the project practices, and the portfolio management practices. After completing a quantitative analysis and comparing the results to proven best practices, we identified gaps and developed an actionable framework for improvement.
AP-Canada provided the site with a robust process to select and prioritize projects, a quantitative KPI-based program to monitor the performance of the project portfolio, a template to support project resource planning, and a set of recommendations to help the project organization improve project sponsorship, estimating, scheduling, and project controls. The assessment provided a clear path to successful project portfolio management:
- The prioritization process helped the site reduce its backlog of projects, focus on high value projects, and respond to business needs.
- The KPIs enabled continuous improvement and supported governance.
- The template and the efficiencies provided by focusing on the right projects helped project managers define and execute more projects.
- Implementing the project management recommendations helped the site execute projects faster and cheaper.
AP-Canada revisited the site three years later to quantitatively measure the improvement in performance. The assessment found that virtually all projects were achieving technical and business objectives, while capital expenditure remained close to $20 million. By generating significantly improved results without increasing capital expenditure, the site was able to grow spending by approximately $1 million on projects that generated a tangible monetary return. The backlog of projects was also significantly decreased.