One size does not fit all



Fuelled by the global economic meltdown, consolidation was rife among drilling contractors and a merger between Pride Offshore and ENSCO was on the cards.

Pride had suffered a blow to its share price off the back of a couple of delayed project deliveries which hit its earnings forecast. In the thick of merger talks, Pride’s senior management, impressed with our Venezuela results, asked us to their US HQ in Texas to investigate their approach to its fleet enhancement program in an effort to bolster the board’s confidence and secure their reputation from being impacted further.

In Houston, our resilience appraisal soon uncovered an uncomfortable truth. Although ENSCO had invested in developing a project management system, its architects had chosen one with processes designed specifically for a new product development project (a new build). What they thought was a generic and flexible project management system was, in fact, just the opposite.

“Their projects suffered optimism bias and cost sandbagging”

The ENSCO team was forced to manage and control multiple, sometimes concurrent, and always disparate shipyard projects each with their own unique environments. Instead of providing a platform of repeatable certainty, the system was poorly understood and poorly implemented. In the process of trying to tweak something designed for new construction projects, the team had created a Frankenstein’s monster of a management system.

This led to their experienced project managers and talented teams resorting to using their own knowledge and approaches in an ad hoc way. While this gave the illusion of a defined, planned and managed project, the results were inconsistent and, as ENSCO’s senior management had recently experienced, sometimes disastrous. The teams were doing the best job they could but were unwittingly preventing senior management from foreseeing project outcomes with clarity and managing its reputation risk appropriately.

In short, nasty and varied surprises were constantly eroding the expected value from every project, even for those projects deemed to be successful when measured against the three pillars of cost, time and quality. Among other issues, their projects suffered optimism bias and cost sandbagging.

“Nasty and varied surprises were constantly eroding the expected value from every project”

Our PRIMA (Project Risk Maturity) approach recognizes the limitations of rule-based project management systems and their ‘one size fits all’ character that requires servile compliance. To their generic system, we built in arrangements for project-specific counterweights to bring additional rigour to bear, project by project. For example, individual project framing and our Peak PRM method maximized project knowledge during the input stage.

Resilience enhancing tools and techniques, as well as risk controls, were written into project strategy and tactical planning to ensure that ENSCO’s project managers and teams were equipped to tackle each project’s unique context and complexities. They could now handle the vagaries of delivering projects with different stakeholders, in different locations and climates, with different cultures, plant and equipment arrangements, and with different personnel.

ENSCO (now renamed Valaris) retained us for our resilience safeguarding and Peer Assist services. At this time, BP was a client and project stakeholder with ENSCO. The BP team observed and experienced the benefits of PRIMA first hand, convincing them of the value of the approach that we would develop for them as their Rig Integrated Startup and Operation Practice (RISOP).

“Epeus’s rewrite of our generic project execution procedures combined with the support from their personnel—allowed us to manage our project risks better and also to capture value when we came across opportunities.”

—Gilles Bocabarteille, VP Asset Management Pride International (and later ENSCO)