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A FORTUNE Global 10 refinery with sites all over North America engaged TRACK Software for a “parallel pilot” for their upcoming turnaround. For the purposes of the pilot, TRACK™ operated in parallel with existing cost tracking and contractor management processes. The objectives were as follows:
Provide first-hand experience to validate the value and benefits of TRACK
Provide project data in support of a timely and cost-effective turnaround
Report contractually-compliant contractor hours and costs, and identify variances against their current, manual process
TRACK was installed as a SaaS solution (‘software-as-a-service’) and hosted by TRACK Software – requiring only a web client at the customer site. TRACK Software consultants were on-site during the 30-day turnaround to perform daily operations, resolve data exceptions, and allocate hours and costs to validated work orders.
There were two major findings:
Cost tracking and reporting, as implemented at the plant, is resource intensive and does not provide the accurate real-time information needed to proactively manage and control costs, especially during a fast-paced turnaround.
Refinery’s cost accounting and invoicing processes are heavily dependent on the accuracy of vendor inputs and provide for limited verification of service receipts. For the turnaround period (Oct-3 to Nov-3), TRACK calculated a 10% overstatement of contractor billable hours, representing a potential savings of $648,000.
The Current Process
The current turnaround cost tracking processes at the refinery demonstrated a number of fundamental issues:
Cost analysts are consumed with data collection and reporting activities; little time available for analysis.
The primary cost control mechanism is the budget (spending up to the budget number is expected).
Cost collection is an accurate process separate from vendor invoicing and verification.
Cost reporting is not timely (cost meeting every other day due to work load and limited resources).
Labor, material and equipment charges are not validated by contractual terms and conditions.
Work completion (percent) is not routinely input on the cost sheets; precluding final cost projections.
Excel spreadsheet is cumbersome (updated manually, single user access, frequent format changes).
Little or no cost information received from outside service vendors (invoice submitted post-turnaround).
SAP service and timesheet entries are approved without first-hand knowledge of service receipts.
Lack of vendor discipline impacts the ability to capture costs accurately on a daily basis.
Contract rate schedules, terms & conditions are not current or readily available for the cost analyst.
Special deals (fixed fees, consolidated-skill rates, inclusive rates, etc.) are not well communicated.
Gate logs are not complete for audit process (missing badge events).
Five turnaround contractors were identified and corresponding master data was gathered and loaded: commercial terms & conditions, contractor personnel, schedules, crafts and rates.
Active work orders were identified and entered into TRACK at each of the three units. These work orders form the basis for cost allocation and reporting.
TRACK’s SaaS service was deployed in Houston for the parallel pilot. Database backups were performed nightly to ensure the integrity of the plant’s data. Uptime availability of the system during the turnaround was 100%. Transaction response times were measured typically in the range of 1-3 seconds.
Gate card reads were extracted from the plant’s access control system on a nightly basis and transmitted via the Web for processing. On-site, net-billable hours and contractually complaint costs were calculated by TRACK for Time & Materials labor.
TRACK Software consultants performed daily operations to resolve data exceptions and allocate hours and costs to validated work orders.
Comparison of contractor hours and costs by day identifying variances in reported costs versus TRACK gate validation and automated calculations.
Work Process Comparison
The plant’s existing cost tracking and reporting process is separate from the vendor’s invoice and payment stream; a parallel operation. Therefore, cost tracking and reporting is an overhead process dependent upon the discipline of the vendor for accurate inputs. Because the reporting stream is separate from the invoice process, the two systems are subject to discrepancies that will not be apparent until the vendor submits an invoice for payment.
TRACK integrates daily cost collection and reporting with the vendor’s invoicing process. This is done by providing an interface of authorized charges to the owner’s Accounts Payable system and to the contractor. The contractor is paid through the reconciling of hours and costs in TRACK. The daily acceptance of charges by the contractor, and the authorization of charges by the owner results in a single, accurate and real-time source of cost information.
In just 30 days, the parallel pilot demonstrated that TRACK would have saved the plant nearly $650,000 during their 30-day turnaround.