Stage-gated execution within the project and asset lifecycles
Source: Ernst & Young
Ability to influence total cost over the project lifecycle
Source: Ernst & Young
“The best opportunity to make a positive impact on the lifecycle of a major capital project is during early planning, even before the capital outlay occurs.” Nathan Roost, Advisory, Ernst & Young
One of the most proven and effective ways to manage the complexity of capital projects in the mining and metals industry is to take the holistic approach of a stage gate model for evaluating progress and enabling informed decisions as the project moves through its lifecycle from concept to operations.
Incorporating stage gate review milestones across the project delivery lifecycle establishes clear intervals for the assessment of current-stage performance against approved business cases and execution strategies.
Leading mining and metals companies are embedding stage gates within project delivery schedules, mandating minimum stage gate acceptance criteria for all projects and aligning funding releases to successful stage gate completion. Stage gates reinforce a discipline of reflection on progress to date and provide a timely opportunity to capture and leverage lessons learnt.
Importance of a lifecycle framework
Implementing a comprehensive lifecycle framework allows decision-makers to understand the appropriate investment to underpin the next phase of the project, and in doing so ensure less rework and improved scheduling throughout the project. Effective stage gated execution across the project lifecycle establishes a sound foundation for success across the wider asset lifecycle, including the immediate need for projects to complete on time and release product to the market.
The best opportunity to make a positive impact on the lifecycle of a major capital project is during early planning, even before the capital outlays occur.
This is particularly true with mining and metals companies that are moving into frontier areas or undertaking projects that are more technically complex. The combination of new technology, new geographies, multibillion dollar capital expenditures and multi-party governance means that these projects require high levels of assurance for cost, schedule and risk management.
Two of the key elements of effective early planning are laying the right foundations for delivery success and ensuring early intervention as risks emerge. Key foundation activities include securing a clear executive mandate for the project investment, endorsing a comprehensive delivery methodology, undertaking detailed project planning, actively engaging key stakeholders and establishing a firm contractual footing for vendor engagement and performance management.
To position a project for early risk intervention, project executives must embed an ongoing discipline of risk identification and review, maintain a sense of urgency in mitigation execution and tracking, and ensure timely escalations so that resources can be mobilised before risks mature.
By proactively considering acceleration opportunities and anticipated challenges in the project planning process, mining and metals companies can substantially de-risk subsequent design, execution and operation phases. Effective planning and early intervention can allow project delivery executives to switch from reactive to proactive portfolio and strategic planning.