Offshore small projects (< $ 20 MM gross) often account for 15-20 percent of Oil and Gas Company's annual capital budget. Poor small project execution increases project costs and adversely affects production. Project management skills and habits developed in small project execution, good or bad, feed large project performance.

Using small projects as a training ground for large projects improves small project efficiency and develops project professionals with skills to save hundreds of millions of dollars on a large capital projects program. The small project arena provides a dependable and renewable source of project management professionals at a time when age demographics threaten long term project performance.

The following paper describes a small project improvement initiative implemented to improve small project performance. The initiative focused on:

  1. evaluating current performance

  2. developing common processes and tools and

  3. establishing a global small project network to share best practices and facilitate global interaction.


The offshore oil and gas industry spends billions of dollars annually on small projects. Small projects are defined here as projects with a total installed cost less than $ 20 MM gross.

Small projects are often completed on operating facilities that can potentially affect large revenue streams. The cost of small projects is disproportionate compared to their potentially large impact to production and revenue.

Taking the time and effort to train small project personnel pays two significant dividends:

  1. Small project performance improves

  2. Future large project leaders are trained and developed

Small Project Improvement Initiative

There are strong business and economic drivers to improve small project performance. The main drivers include: cost, schedule, results, operability, and safety. The following five-step program was developed to improve small project performance:

  1. Develop Standard Format for Evaluation

  2. Conduct On-site Interviews

  3. Evaluate Small Project Performance

  4. Develop Action Plan to Improve

  5. Share Learnings and Best Practices

Develop Standard Format for Evaluation.

The first step was to develop a standard format to evaluate small project performance on a global basis. A 150-question questionnaire or audit was developed covering the entire project cycle from how the project idea was originated through start-up and project closeout.

The questionnaire covers the following areas:

  • Project submission and screening process

  • Decision criteria and selection process

  • Project team formation

  • Front end loading and planning

  • Use of value improving practices

  • Project execution plan development

  • Contracting and procurement strategies

  • Project control systems

  • Project outcomes and closeout

  • Lessons learned

The questionnaire allows consistent evaluation and comparison of small project performance across multiple regions and countries.

Conduct On-Site Interviews.

Key business units were asked to identify 4-5 small projects for detailed review and to provide summary data on 6-8 other small projects. Ideally, these projects were completed in the last 6-18 months and represented their normal small project workload.

A corporate specialist traveled to the business unit location to complete the detailed reviews. Normally, each detailed interview lasts

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