An Assessment of the Current Schedule Risk Analysis Practice at Aker Solutions AS
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- Institutt for marin teknikk 
In today s oil and gas market contractors are experiencing increased scrutiny from clients to deliver according to success criteria such as cost, time and quality. A study made by EY (2014) revealed that 64% out of 365 megaprojects experienced cost overruns, and 73% experienced schedule delays. A plan is never followed scrupulously, due to the emergence of risks and uncertainties. To ensure that a project plan is unbiased and feasible, schedule risk analyses (SRAs) are conducted to simulate future project progress. This thesis is based on an iterative research strategy with an inductive approach, the objective being an assessment of Aker Solutions SRA process. The thesis aims at examining what the main purpose of the SRA is, how the results from the SRA are used and whether the general understanding of the SRA process is sufficient among involved parties. Primary data are obtained through semi-structured, open-ended interviews with risk and schedule experts at Aker Solutions and Statoil, to encompass the viewpoint of both contractor and client. The thesis is limited to the scheduling risk aspect of risk management, excluding cost and weight risk management. The client/contractor relationship investigated is limited to one Norwegian contractor and one operator, being Aker Solutions and Statoil respectively. Through a literature review the basic concepts of risk, planning and scheduling are outlined. The research field of these topics are vast, yet recent literature is mainly concerned with description of new mathematical models and algorithms for performing SRAs. The human aspects of the process have largely been disregarded, despite that scheduling and planning evidently are highly affected by human decision making. The SRA process at Aker Solutions has been assessed by examining the risk workshops, the written SRA procedures, quality of the input, understanding of the output and other SRA process variables. Findings made in this thesis indicate that there is a lack of understanding of the SRA process itself and its results among those conducting the analysis and the disciplines providing input to it. As a result of increasingly complex projects the schedule risk processes has increased in complexity in terms of software and terminology, making it challenging to communicate the results both internally and externally. The majority of non-risk employees have a general understanding of the actual network logic in the schedule. However, the concepts of durations and risks are unfamiliar. The output from the SRA are estimates, not fixed deterministic dates, and it can be challenging for realists to have confidence in such results. However, participating in risk and scheduling workshops increases the overall risk awareness among disciplines and contractors, which enhances the ownership of the project. The latter is essential for a multi-disciplinary workforce, where a pitfall is that each department is solely concerned with their own project activities due to functional siloing and thus unaware of the totality of the project. Findings from the interviews with Statoil showed that the SRA results from contractors such as Aker Solutions are mainly used to verify the results against their own benchmarks, and are not used as basis for decision making. It serves more as a tool for tracking how the project has been executed so far rather than a tool for future predictions of project progress, and external SRAs are thus used as a reactive rather than proactive management tool. This thesis concludes that the SRA process in itself, including risk identification meetings and scheduling workshops, are more important than the results and reports generated by the SRA, as it enhances the ownership of the multidisciplinary plan and process and increases the awareness of schedule risks among participants. Based on this assumption, following recommendations are proposed: Conduct a survey among disciplines related to the SRA process, including both providers of input and personnel conducting the SRA, to evaluate the knowledge level regarding the SRA process and results. Workshops in the beginning of a project for all discipline leads to enhance understanding of the complex schedule and risk terminology and how to explain results/outputs from the analyses. Develop a presentation guideline for both internal and external presentations. Specialised facilitator competence train a team of key personnel to be expert facilitators to enhance the quality of the input and increase the focus on opportunities in the risk and opportunity identification process. It is essential to create an environment where interviewees dare to give realistic input in terms of project activity durations. To strengthen the findings made in this thesis, the schedule risk analysis process should be evaluated at other companies in the Norwegian oil and gas industry, preferably including both clients and contractors. The research on how human aspects influence the risk, planning and scheduling process in the oil and gas industry is sparse. Further studies of these aspects would provide a theoretical background to a topic that by realists can be perceived as imprecise and equivocal, which would enhance the users confidence in the schedule risk analysis results and reports.