Pre-Award Planning Phase: Involvement of Project Manager


Andy Cuthbert

Halliburton Project Management

Houston, TX, USA


The central premise for a project charter stipulates that the project sponsor and steering committee designate a project manager. Simultaneously, and often in advance of the construction of the project charter, a team has been working late into the night compiling the bid in response to the tender; herein, lies a fundamental flaw. Of the seven basic rules that decide the fate of a project, planning is the most critical aspect in defining clear and attainable goals; yet, from the outset, the sequence of events commonly employed does not facilitate this. Generally, the bid has been awarded and the contract signed off before the project manager has been identified. Only when he is in place, is he privy to the document, placing him at a distinct disadvantage, since he has to assemble his team at the same time he is reading, absorbing, and understanding the nuances of the contract document recently thrust into his hands.

Although he is not necessarily an expert in compiling a contract, the project manager has, by the very nature of his position, had close and intimate knowledge of the details contained in contracts he has worked with in the past. This knowledge places him in a unique position of being able to identify where the weak and strong points of the contract are, where money has been left on the table, and where the wording could be tightened up to better specify a particular clause. What he doesn’t know is why the contract was written the way it was. There may be factors that affected the way the contract was constructed; it could be that an omission was made or a particular phrasing was used in error.


Notwithstanding the Scope of Work outlined in the charter, it can be a complex task to define the goals if the contract is lengthy and contains a labyrinth of clauses. Ordering tasks and assigning an estimated time to build the schedule and prepare a timeline for the project are made more onerous by the lack of a clear understanding of the contract. Significant preparatory time is wasted before the execution plan is ready and resources, in terms of personnel and material, are assigned. Ultimately, this is a risk that may lead to a hastily assembled project team who arrive in-country ill-prepared and under-resourced, sometimes after the operational team leads have arrived and have begun their own preparations in isolation, in conflict with good project management principles and in ignorance of the overall contract requirements.


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About the Author

andy cuthbertAndy Cuthbert flag-ukflag-usa


Houston, TX, USA

Having graduated from the University of London with a BSc. (Hons) Geology in 1981, Andy went on to complete an MPhil. in Geology before joining the Oil Industry in 1984. He has 30 years of oilfield experience, 10 years with Schlumberger and 20 years with Halliburton. Amongst the years spent with Halliburton Andy has been involved in projects of ever increasing complexity involving the introduction and coordination of new technology. Time spent as the Project Coordinator for the BG Group in Tunisia in 1995 was succeeded by Project Management in Norway in a production sharing project and on the Talisman Gyda project in 2004. A move to Malaysia in 2006 saw Andy leave project management to take up a regional management position for operations in Southeast Asia, China, the Indian sub-continent and Australasia. A year after moving to Houston in 2009 he resumed his role in Halliburton Project Management and has participated in or is currently involved in projects in the USA, Tanzania, Singapore, India and Iraq. Andy has written or co-authored drilling industry technical papers for the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) on both Directional Drilling and Multilateral Technology and given presentations to the SPE community all over the world. His main hobbies are rugby union; he is an International Rugby Board (IRB) Level II referee, and cycling, especially for charitable causes. He currently lives in Houston with his wife and two children. Andy can be contacted at [email protected].

Halliburton’s corporate website is http://www.halliburton.com/.

To see other works by Andy Cuthbert, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/andy-cuthbert/