Gran Tierra Energy needed to improve its project management process in order to complete drilling projects on time. It deployed Microsoft Project Server 2010 to give project managers a common project management language and executives quick insight
into project status and risk. Gran Tierra Energy can now better deliver on investor commitments, use capital assets effectively, meet contractual obligations, and preserve critical relationships.
Gran Tierra Energy is a U.S. oil and gas exploration company, headquartered in Canada, that operates in South America. Drilling for oil and gas is an expensive business—each well costs between U.S.$5 million and $50 million; Gran Tierra Energy’s annual capital
budget is about $400 million. Once Gran Tierra Energy raises the budget to fund a project, it needs to execute the project and get oil out of the ground as quickly as possible to make a profit and increase shareholder value. Many things can get in the way.
||When we stay on track with our projects, we create more value for the company and our investors. With Project Server 2010, we’re better able to do everything we tell investors we’re going to do.
| Duncan Nightingale
Gran Tierra Energy Colombia
For starters, Gran Tierra Energy operates in remote jungle areas where care must be taken to avoid adverse impact on vegetation, wildlife, and indigenous communities. Before a drilling rig ever arrives on the jobsite, the company must apply for many permits
with local governments. Once permits are issued, Gran Tierra Energy must make sure that materials and crews arrive on time, the project proceeds as planned, and issues are resolved quickly.
As Gran Tierra Energy grew, it became more difficult for its managers in Canada to oversee dozens of massive, capital-intensive drilling projects happening halfway around the world. The company had no central project management system to keep track of project
details and identify where projects were in need of more focused attention.
Employees used Microsoft Project Professional 2010 in some locations and were also doing project management with spreadsheets. But these tools never told a complete story. “With projects under way in multiple countries, time zones, and languages, and without
a big-picture view of our project portfolio, management would often find out too late that a project had run into trouble,” says Duncan Nightingale, President of Gran Tierra Energy Colombia. “This could cost us millions of dollars in fines, not to mention
the goodwill of our host country and investors.”
To consistently deliver on its commitments, Gran Tierra Energy needed comprehensive project management skills, tools, and processes.
In November 2010, Michael Loughlean, Director of Information Services at Gran Tierra Energy, headed a search for an enterprise project management system. He took into account what the company already had, what employees knew—notably, Project Professional
and Microsoft Office—and what others in the industry were using. The search led to Microsoft Project Server 2010.
To help redesign its whole project management plan and implement Project Server 2010, Gran Tierra Energy brought in UMT, a Microsoft partner with a Gold Competency in Project and Portfolio Management. At the time, Gran Tierra Energy had no real project manager
role; instead, a number of people “horizontally” managed different aspects of a project—planning, seismic acquisition, drilling, permitting, and so forth. UMT encouraged Gran Tierra Energy to create a new, central project manager role that would be responsible
for total project success, using Project Server 2010 to vertically integrate all the diverse project functions. UMT also helped Gran Tierra Energy create best practices around program management and accountability and to set up a pilot project in Colombia
to field-test the new methodology and tool.
With a blueprint from the successful Colombian test, Gran Tierra Energy rolled out Project Server 2010 to other teams and is now using it in four of its five regions to manage about 200 master projects. Each master project is a major investment area with
many smaller projects beneath it. All project documentation is stored in a Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 site, where different people own separate workstreams and still share information with others. The company’s total project manager community is currently
about 50 people worldwide.
“We have a much better view of these master projects and everything related to them,” Loughlean says. “Managers can use reporting dashboards to see major milestones, risks, and issues associated with each project. Duncan, for example, can look at a project
within a larger program and see the next big upcoming event and issues that he should be worried about.”
With Project Server 2010, Gran Tierra Energy has gained a common project management language across the company and can better deliver on investor commitments, keep management apprised of project status, and preserve critical relationships.
Uses a Standard Language
For the first time, with Project Server 2010, Gran Tierra Energy has a common language for discussing and managing projects. Management can talk to project managers about where things are and look at the company’s entire portfolio across different regions
and “compare apples to apples,” as Loughlean says. “This is a really big deal. With the training and processes we’ve put in place, Gran Tierra Energy now speaks the Project Management language in addition to English, Spanish, and Portuguese.”
Delivers on Investor Commitments
Gran Tierra Energy is on target to deliver on its capital budget expectations to shareholders. “When we stay on track with our projects, we create more value for the company and our investors,” Nightingale says. “With Project Server 2010, we’re better able
to do everything we tell the market we’re going to do. We can better maximize the value of millions of dollars’ worth of capital equipment on each of our drilling sites.”
Keeps Management Apprised of Status
Gran Tierra Energy can give senior management the data it needs to make better decisions. “With Project Server, we have a much better communication tool for senior managers, who just want to know if a project is on time and on budget. If something’s going
off the rails, they now find out immediately,” Nightingale says.
Preserves Critical Relationships
When projects finish on time and problems are avoided, Gran Tierra Energy can fulfill contractual obligations and avoid permit problems that cost millions of dollars in fines and damage the company’s relationship with local governments. Loughlean says, “With
better project management, we can stay on top of project details and get in front of issues before they stall a multimillion-dollar project.”
This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.