Applying PMBOK to Manage Shutdowns, Turnarounds and Outages


Important Differences Between Turnarounds and EPC Projects


There are significant differences between turnarounds and EPC projects as outlined in the Project Vs. Turnaround white paper. The significance of these differences bears exploring.

Because the scope is only partially known when execution begins, turnarounds demand much stricter scope management controls. A constantly changing scope (and schedule) means that baseline schedules are imperfect measuring sticks for turnarounds. As the baseline schedule is the entire basis for measuring and tracking EPC project performance, it is clear that a different paradigm is required for turnarounds.

A changing schedule (and manpower staffing requirements) makes resource leveling, a popular tool for EPC projects, counter-productive for turnarounds. This issue is explored in greater depth in the Resource Leveling Vs. Critical Mass white paper.

The compressed work basis for executing turnarounds means that all team members have less time to analyze and react to changing priorities. Problems that go unchecked can significantly impact the chances for a reaching the time and budget goals. As a consequence, there is a much greater need for using the schedule to drive the project execution in a turnaround (whereas it is sometimes used mostly as a contractual tool in EPC projects). It is critical for all schedule and progress information to be highly visible, timely, comprehensive and accurate.

With these distinctions in mind, we can now explore the tenets of the PMBOK and start working towards a turnaround specific project management methodology.


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Authored by Bernard Ertl, Vice President, InterPlan Systems

Bernard Ertl has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and extensive field experience planning and managing turnarounds in the oil refining and petrochemical process industries.

Applying PMBOK to Manage Shutdowns, Turnarounds and Outages was also published in Maintenance and Asset Management Journal Vol 20, No 3, Autumn 2005.