We all know and understand how important it is on any project to define the primary driver and how this then underpins the decisions that are made throughout the project. This overriding driver defines the project strategy. For example:
- A rig that needs to be on location by a contractual date has an overriding schedule driver, as there is a downside in terms of lost revenue and diminished reputation of our client if it is delivered late.
- A rig which does not have a contract to go to has an overriding cost driver due to the fact that there is no immediate revenue generation and therefore delivery of the project within the allocated budget is of paramount importance to our client.
- A rig which is undergoing upgrades to undertake a specific and demanding drilling program can have an overriding quality driver by virtue of the requirement to meet important operational and technical criteria before commencing operations. This type of project is normally commissioned by the Field Operator.
The overriding project driver can change over the course of the project, for instance, a contract can be cancelled and therefore the project is no longer schedule driven. A rig without a contract at the beginning of a project could be awarded one and therefore the driver would change from cost to schedule.
The current boom in new build rig construction combined with the major upgrade and life enhancement works of the rigs from the last build boom in the 1980s means there is a large volume of projects where the investment is in the hundreds of millions of dollars and the impact of failure is high. Of the last 40 contracts awarded to rigs under construction only two were awarded at the point of the order being placed with the Shipyard. In contrast 24 contracts were awarded in the last 12 months of the build activity which would by definition mean a significant change in project driver. On average across all 40 contracts given to newbuilds still under construction the award came 250 days from the delivery date for the rig.
A potential change to the overriding driver is a risk to the success of any project. Therefore, the overriding driver should be defined at the beginning of the project so that appropriate strategies and plans can be established. The possibility of a change to the overriding driver should also be identified and if applicable captured on the project risk register.