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Engineering, construction and operations projects face growing complexity and shrinking margins. Project management makes all the difference.

When projects involve tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, a slight shift in margin can be the difference between profit and problems. Project Managers need the tools to guard the margin.

Like many of my colleagues, I had SAP working for me long before I started working for SAP.

As a young manager at Chevron, I found that every project had its own solution, tailored to the needs of the internal and external stakeholders. When we settled on SAP as a universal enterprise platform, it gave us the freedom to focus on improving our management systems.

As a CIO, and then in my current role, where I am able to speak to CIOs, COOs and CEOs in the engineering, construction and operations industry, I have seen over and over again how important it is to be able to manage projects collaboratively, based on complete and accurate information.

Margins are under pressure, and every project brings its own added complexities. One SAP client is working on Manhattan’s Freedom Tower, with no room to lay down surplus materials, making the timing and tracking of materials being delivered a critical success factor. When fines for road or bridge closures are levied by the minute, an hour’s delay can push a project towards the red.

The three bridges

My experience of project management, and conversations with project managers, mark out three connecting technologies – bridges – a successful next-generation project management solution needs to offer its users.

First, project managers need a single point of entry: the ability to view at any point every relevant element for the project from multiple sources – cost, change orders, risk, accidents or schedule changes – in a single interface.

Second, true project management needs to integrate with the back office. The ability to interface with HR, payroll and other functions gives the project manager a new understanding of the tools at his or her disposal.

Third, project management in a connected century must instantly update. A project manager needs to be able to connect the site and the C-suite immediately – logging an incident on a mobile device and immediately seeing the implications and the options for costing and scheduling.

These are the bridges SAP’s Commercial Project Management solution is building, with the intention of making a clear positive impact on the ability of project managers to keep their projects, and their margins, under control. And, we find, once the bridges are built they open up new possibilities.

Daily or hourly updates from project sites change the way resources are allocated. A clearer view of anticipated costs enables more competitive tenders. Tight connection to HR and talent management software means that as one project winds down skilled personnel can be moved where they are needed most. And innovations like SAP Visual Enterprise for EC&O, which allow bidding, cost and progress information to be mapped directly onto the 3D CAD model of the project, are allowing faster and better-informed responses to changing situations.

For more information on Commercial Project Management and how it fits into Engineering, Constructions and Operations, take a look at our EC&O Solution Explorer, or our industry section for EC&O.

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