Oil & Gas Journal

Reference framework, top talent crucial to managing large projects

Reference framework, top talent crucial to managing large projects

How oil and gas companies can apply lessons from ancient Rome to solve increasingly complex and technologically demanding large projects.

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Reference framework, top talent crucial to managing large projects

This article originally appeared in the Oil & Gas Journal (subscription required).

Large projects, increasingly complex and technologically demanding, confront oil and gas companies with an expanding barrage of challenges. Schedules and budgets are tight, safety is crucial, and every project faces a network of stakeholders concerned about its impact on the environment and communities. Even so, today's project managers still rely on concepts that the builders of the Colosseum, as well as other large projects of antiquity, would recognize: work breakdown plans, design-to-cost, and make-or-buy decisions.

For example, an army of workers took less than 10 years to complete the Colosseum in AD 80 using 100,000 cu m of travertine marble. To accomplish this, project leaders relied on tested engineering concepts and organizational innovations:

  • The amphitheater was divided into sectors, assigned to different contractors, and supervised by teams of civil engineers, who shared best practices and guaranteed results.
  • Contractors followed prescribed practices for simple designs to deliver against cost and time goals. Roman engineers set very high standards for innovation.
  • Engineers managed organizational and logistical complexities in the design phase. For example, working space on site was maximized, and many activities were outsourced to yards where partly assembled blocks were prepared.

Read the full article in the Oil & Gas Journal (subscription required).

Roberto Nava is a partner with Bain & Co. in Milan and is a member of the oil and gas practice. Nava has more than 20 years of experience leading projects on strategy, performance improvement, organization, and capital-expenditure management with a special focus on oil and gas (upstream, midstream, and downstream), petrochemicals, oil services, and engineering and contracting. He holds a degree in business administration from Bocconi University.

Tiziano Rivolta is a partner at Bain & Co. in Milan and a member of the firm's oil and gas practice. Rivolta has 15 years of experience leading projects across the oil and gas value chain, including upstream, midstream, downstream, and engineering, procurement, and contracting (EPC). He has developed expertise on large-project management, oil and gas components manufacturers, EPC contractors, and national and international oil companies. He holds a degree in management engineering.


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