Applying PMBOK to Manage Shutdowns, Turnarounds and Outages


Project Communications Management


One of the single most important aspects to successful turnaround management is communication. Because of the compressed time frame, there is less time available to everyone in the turnaround team to overcome the problems caused by poor communication.

Communications Planning

Many turnaround organizations do not have a communications plan outlining team members' information needs, delivery schedule and distribution system. Ad hoc reporting on an as-requested basis does not provide the necessary foundation for maintaining high visibility of the project to all stakeholders. A proper communications plan should include/address:

  • Executive Management (summary schedule, progress)
  • Turnaround Management (scope, schedule, progress, manpower)
  • Planning / Scheduling (scope, schedule, progress)
  • Inspection (schedule, progress)
  • Operations (scope, schedule, progress)
  • Safety (scope, schedule [permit requirements])
  • Warehouse (scope, schedule)

Information Distribution

Since turnarounds are so dynamic, information needs to be updated every shift to maintain visibility and control. In order to help field supervision stay on top of changing schedule priorities, it is recommended that complete schedule updates be initiated just before the end of every shift so that updated schedules may be disseminated to the field at the start of the next shift. Without complete schedule updates every shift, the schedule will quickly become meaningless as a tool to manage and drive the project scope and execution.

Stakeholders in turnarounds are always pressed for time. It is recommended that all disseminated information conform to standard report formats. Familiarity with the report format(s) will allow team members to read and digest the information quickly while minimizing the potential for misinterpretations.

Performance Reporting

A turnaround project should not be analyzed in the same manner as an EPC project. The dynamics and characteristics of EPC projects and turnarounds are different. Baseline schedules that drive EPC project analysis are relatively meaningless for turnarounds after the first couple of shifts.

Turnarounds require specialized metrics for analysis. Some examples of specialized metrics for turnarounds are:


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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.