This week’s Pipeliners Podcast episode features Gary Pare of Burns & McDonnell discussing the effect COVID has had on the pipeline industry and pipeline projects. Gary reflects on supply chain issues and how their company is working through those challenges.
In this episode, you will learn about the challenges around global supply caused by COVID and how it is increasing the risks on new projects, as pricing is changing daily and companies are not able to provide the products needed expeditiously.
Pipeline Projects: Show Notes, Links, and Insider Terms
- Gary Pare is a Project Manager at Burns & McDonnell. Connect with Gary on LinkedIn.
- Burns & McDonnell is a family of companies bringing together an unmatched team of 10,000+ engineers, construction professionals, architects, planners, technologists, and scientists to help those who work in critical infrastructure sectors deliver on their imperative responsibilities. With an integrated construction and design mindset, the company offers full-service capabilities with more than 60 offices, globally. With a mission unchanged since 1898 — make clients successful — Burns & McDonnell partners with companies on the toughest challenges, constantly working to make the world an amazing place. Learn more at burnsmcd.com.
- Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is natural gas that has been cooled to a liquid state (liquefied), at about -260° Fahrenheit, for shipping and storage. The volume of natural gas in its liquid state is about 600 times smaller than its volume in its gaseous state in a natural gas pipeline.
- EPC is Engineering, Procurement, and Construction
- Public Utility Commissions (PUCs) regulate electric, gas, telecommunications, water, and wastewater utilities in the U.S.
- COVID is the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and is defined as an illness caused by a novel coronavirus now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2; formerly called 2019-nCoV).
Pipeline Projects: Full Episode Transcript
Russel Treat: Welcome to the Pipeliners Podcast, episode 244, sponsored by Burns & McDonnell, delivering pipeline projects with an integrated construction and design mindset, connecting all the elements, design, procurement, and sequencing at the site.
Burns & McDonnell uses its vast knowledge, the latest technology, and an ownership commitment to safely deliver innovative, quality projects. Burns & McDonnell is designed to build, and keep it all connected. Learn more at burnsmcd.com.
Announcer: The Pipeliners Podcast, where professionals, Bubba geeks, and industry insiders share their knowledge and experience about technology, projects, and pipeline operations. Now, your host, Russel Treat.
Russel: Thanks for listening to the Pipeliners Podcast. I appreciate you taking the time. To show that appreciation, we give away a customized YETI tumbler to one listener every episode. This week, our winner is Denise Dolezal with Metropolitan Utilities District. To learn how you can win this signature prize, stick around till the end of the episode.
This week, Gary Pare with Burns & McDonnell joins us to talk about pipeline projects and supply chain challenges. Hey, Gary. Welcome to the Pipeliners Podcast.
Gary Pare: Hey, Russel. Glad to be here. Greatly appreciative to talk to you, and the folks out there.
Russel: Before we dive in, could you tell us a little bit about your background, and what you do, and how you got into pipelining?
Gary: Yeah, absolutely. Again, my name’s Gary Pare. I’m actually coming up, next week, on 18 total years in the oil and gas industry. First, probably, 10 years of my career were spent primarily on the downstream oil and gas and refineries and chemical plants, here all along the West Coast, on the mechanical engineering side of things, so rotating equipment, pressure vessels, reactors.
Had an opportunity, working through a lot of great mentors over those years, to be able to take the designs, oversee fabrication in shops, oversee installation, and participate in the commissioning and performance testing.
It’s really given me a whole holistic view of what our customers deal with, what contractors deal with, what we deal with in construction. It was a great experience.
I joined Burns & McDonnell about five years ago in our pipeline and facilities group. It was an extraction of myself from the downstream oil and gas market to serving our natural gas utility clients here on the West Coast. I was able to utilize my oil and gas industry knowledge, and apply that in a different sector, which has been incredibly fruitful, useful. I’ve learned a lot of things over the last five years.
Project management is something I grew into. Being a mechanical engineer, the transition to project engineering to get a holistic view of the technical piece of the project, that’s just a natural step to project management.
It’s been great really seeing projects come from a concept, really a feasibility, all the way through detailed engineering, construction, and really tuning in our design to make a safe and efficient product for our customers.
Russel: It’s always interesting when you have an opportunity as an engineer to go all the way from concept through startup and operations. It’s just really interesting.
There’s one facility that I was very involved with all the measurement when it was started. It was a big LNG plant. I continue to support that customer. I’ve been working with those guys for 20 years. It’s funny. I’ll show up. I’ll know more about their history, and all that than they do. Just interesting how that works.
Look, I brought you on. I wanted to talk to you about EPC and the supply chain. There’s been a lot going on in the last three years in our business. Really, in my mind, an unprecedented amount of things have been going on.
I guess the first question I’d like to ask you is, being in the role of a project execution guy, project designer and pipeliner, what are you seeing as the challenges around global supply?
Gary: The last two and a half, three years, the challenges have been numerous for many aspects. I remember when COVID first took off in early 2020, just that panic mode, short term, of what does this mean for our projects, what does this mean for our industry.
I remember probably one of the greater mentors I had, the late, great Klaus Langer, told me, “Hey. Gary, I’ve been doing this for 40 plus years. There is not a playbook for this. Don’t panic. We’re all trying to figure out what we’re doing.”
What we couldn’t see at that time was what was going to happen in the third quarter, fourth quarter 2020, when things just really took off from a material pricing, and a material predictability, and availability perspective.
As everybody knows…It’s not a secret. It’s not just your eggs, your milk, your butter. Gas is a part of our daily lives that we’re seeing escalation in. We’re seeing it in materials all the way across the board, equipment, commodities, raw materials.
The real interesting thing is you look at indices, which I’m hoping we’ll get to talk about a little here later, but that escalation has just been totally unpredictable. The rate of the escalation has been varying. They’ve just continued to fluctuate wildly over the last two and a half years.
What we’re finding also now, with that increased and unpredictable escalation, is, honestly, just the shortage or outright unavailability of materials.
We’ve had issues where we got electrical equipment that’s actually due at a site here in the next couple weeks. We’ll get a call from a vendor saying, “We’re going to push your delivery.” Not four weeks. We’re talking like April 2023 now.
Russel: Oh, my gosh.
Gary: In some cases, suppliers just throw their hands up and say, “We don’t know. We’ll let you know when we know.” To their benefit or maybe to their defense, it’s downstream suppliers for them saying the same things. It’s really been tough to execute projects in that manner.
The other thing that we’re seeing is certain shops have just stopped taking orders. In a way, I can commend that because it’s suppliers that are overloaded on the backlog. They want to focus on satisfying their existing customers, and their current contractual commitments before taking on more orders.
I’ve gotten from a few suppliers, “We’re shutting down our order department until November or December of this year. We’ll tell you when we’re picking back up orders again next year.”
Russel: That’s crazy. I haven’t heard of anything like that since the ’70s. Now I’m dating myself.
Gary: A little before my time. [laughs] Some of it too, I think, is also lack of materials. I don’t think anyone would want to admit it. They can’t really make a product if they don’t have what they need on hand to do the job.
Also a shortage of labor. The labor market is tight right now. There’s a lot of competition for skilled crafts. Oftentimes, the shops need to shut down because they don’t have the labor there to do the work, and get their product out the door.
Russel: When we shut everything down for COVID, I don’t think anybody understood the consequences that was going to have. I think the operating assumption was that we’ll shut it all down, and then, when the pandemic passes, we’ll turn it all back on. That has very much proven to not be the case. Turning it back on is non-trivial.
One of the other things that’s going on too – at least we’re having this issue in our company – is that the ongoing variants of COVID circulating around, particularly this current one that’s really contagious. It’s taking people out for one or two weeks, just left and right.
It’s not like the old days. We don’t ask you to come in sick so you can get the work done. If you’re sick, we want you to stay home.
Gary: [laughs] Fortunately, you can work from home now. That’s definitely been a blessing in disguise for folks like myself, where I don’t need to be in a shop. I’m not welding. I’m not pipefitting. I’m doing my craft on the back side of a screen.
The other interesting thing with that also is I don’t think anybody – myself anyways – I never foresaw that COVID would have an upward inflection on demand and inflation.
When COVID hit, a lot of oil and gas customers just shut projects down. I know several friends at other contractors that were just told to stand down on their projects while their customers figured out what was going on.
In my mind, I’m thinking, “Hey, this is quickly going to turn into a buyer’s market.” It just inverse went the other way on us, which has been fascinating. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of books written about this in the coming years, for sure.
Russel: There’s all kinds of things. Everybody remembers the toilet paper crisis at the beginning of COVID. That was all supply chain. What happened is, all of a sudden, all the toilet paper supply was to individuals and homes, where half of the toilet paper supply used to be to office buildings. It’s all these unintended consequences.
Are you seeing anything that would tell you that we’ll get back to some level of stability in the supply chain?
Gary: One of the things I wanted to talk about is indices, and how we’ve used indices to our benefit, and provide better insight to our clients. It’s become a daily check for myself over the last, I’d say, year or so, just hopping on the various information that’s available.
If you look at those charts, November 2020, third quarter 2020, it just skyrockets. Just the rate of inflation escalation for various commodities just shoots up. We have seen some bobbling. It hasn’t lowered much, but we have seen a less steepening of the curve, I guess you’d call it.
Over the last couple weeks, certain commodities, like cold rolled steel, have just come down maybe 5 or 10 percent. We’ve seen those drops. Then they pick right back up a couple weeks later.
It does seem like there is a bit more downward pressure. I hate to use the stock pundit terms. It does seem like there is – at least based on the information we’re seeing – some downward trend, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that.
Russel: In addition to just the whole supply chain stuff, what are you seeing in terms of risks for executing projects?
Gary: It’s been a massive risk. I view it in two terms. If you talk about a new project that you’re going out and selling right now, myself as a project manager, particularly with a utility client that’s governed by a PUC, in my mind it’s all about predictability.
Of course, we want to provide the best value. Everybody wants to be the low bid. At the end of the day, I want to go to my clients and say, “I will do this project for this price in this amount of time.”
Especially longer term projects – the projects I execute are three, four years in duration – take that predictability on materials and commodities, which could be 50 plus percent of the project cost, and throw it out the window.
Just for myself personally, that lack of predictability on longer term projects, newer projects, has been a bit troublesome. I do feel like it’s been especially hard on projects that perhaps were contracted pre COVID.
Several year-long projects that had executed an agreement with certain force majeure claims, with certain escalation allowances, with certain risk allocation for supply chain issues which may not have been much because the world was going fine, now those contractors are dealing with those impacts on a daily basis. I’m sure some of them are struggling, for sure.
Russel: Wow. You just said a mouthful right there, Gary. Particularly in long-term contracts, multiyear contracts, it’s very typical to put limits to price escalation. Most of those limits to price escalation are in the two and a half to three percent a year level. When you’re seeing inflation rates at 9 and 10 percent, that’s not sustainable. That’ll put you out of business.
Gary: That’s right.
Russel: That’s tough.
Gary: The other risk we’re seeing is even if you have…I’ve got a healthy escalation allowance, I’ve got a really good supplier that has been really good to me. He’s been pretty steady over the last couple of projects.
Even locking down confidence in pricing and schedule on a project, I’ve seen instances where it changes day to day with suppliers, so instances where we’ll go out to bid. We’ll get a bid. Myself, I like to ask for a 60-day minimum bid validity period.
I’ve seen instances where it’s like a day. It’s by the time we go through. We evaluate the bids. We select a supplier. We’re getting all the paperwork together. We go to the supplier and say, “All right, we’re ready to award you.” They said, “My price just went up 25 percent. My delivery went up a month. Take it or leave it.” Even in those spans of days, we start losing deliveries.
Russel: I’m going to date myself a little bit. The last time we saw something like this going on was in the late ’70s and early ’80s. I graduated high school in ’76, and graduated college in 1980. I very much remember, when I was doing project management in the Air Force, and contract management in the Air Force, all of these same kinds of discussions.
The contracting cycle in the government is longer. You work up all your pricing. Then, 9 to 18 months later, you’re trying to execute, and all of that pricing is invalid. It causes some real challenges, to say the least.
Gary: Then the other thing that we’re seeing – it’s a bit more of a one off – is overall impacts to quality. This one’s a little tough to explain. Say you’ve got a complex piece of machinery. I deal with a lot of gas compressors.
That gas compressor, that piece of machinery, has a hundred widgets on it. That supplier uses a type of widget or a brand of widget that they have built their system around, they base their warranty on. They proved it in service time and time again.
Alternatively, there’s an owner approved vendor that the owner or the end user has experience with, and they’re confident with. Hey, guess what? Maybe those parts, that widget, is not available anymore.
The supplier, still staying within the confines of the contract if you haven’t specifically defined what piece of equipment that needs to be, maybe goes to their B tier, or maybe goes to their C tier that’s maybe a lower quality, maybe just not proven in that specific application, and leads to certain even short term or long term quality or reliability issues for the products they’re providing.
Russel: Again, I think you said a mouthful there, too, Gary. If you’re a skid manufacturer, you’re building packaged equipment. There is a lot you can do if you have confidence in your supply chain. You get the parts right before you need them so they’re not sitting around in the warehouse. You immediately put them together. You have all your skills working.
If you’re having any kind of problems that are causing you to stop and restart, start with this crew, finish with a different crew, all of that causes reliability and quality issues when you’re doing packaged equipment delivery. The same thing is true, I would think, in a large EPC project as well. Starting and stopping is not good.
Gary: No. Absolutely. Hoping to get the same crew back is definitely a challenge in those cases.
Russel: The crew’s got to go to work. It’s really interesting. What are people doing to work around these risks?
Gary: I will say it hasn’t been a lot of fun the last two years. I keep telling myself that I’m probably going to look back in 10 years and say, “Man, that was a great time, where we got to be innovative, where we got to test ourselves. We got to work closely with our clients to come up with solutions to make a mutually agreeable project, and mitigate risk all across the board.”
I would say probably the biggest thing that I’ve seen, for myself anyways, is in a normal environment, I prefer lump-sum contracts. I like to be in control of my own destiny. I like our teams to be rewarded for working efficiently.
I like us to be rewarded for being innovative, finding ways, safely, obviously, and within the confines of quality and specification requirements, driving efficiency on projects.
Lump summing a project in both the material market that we’re seeing, and the labor market we’re seeing is just about impossible for these longer scale, heavy-duty projects. You’ve got a miss on escalation. You’re probably a few million dollars out of pocket.
So pushing more towards reimbursable contracts, and even to the extent of even if you can just do a reimbursable for equipment and material only. That’ll have challenges of its own, which I’ll talk about here in a second.
The other thing is pushing for more broad contract terms. The thing I love about being a project manager, I take pride in knowing my deal. I can just about recite every single one of my contracts. The one thing that I always glossed over before, just because I took it for granted, is my force majeure clauses and protections.
Those who don’t know what force majeure is, that’s really what provisions or things can happen in a contract or a project that are out of the contractor’s control, so things like acts of God, earthquake, wind, fire, named storms, riots, things like that.
What we’ve done is push for more broad contract terms to cover those supply chain disruptions. Typically, in a force majeure clause, my force majeure doesn’t cover a critical piece of equipment that’s setting us on a critical path, sitting out at Port of Long Beach in the water for two weeks, waiting to be unloaded.
It’s those kinds of things, those what ifs, that we’ve got to ask, and make sure that we’re covered contractually, and really work with our clients to get what we need there.
The other – I’ll call it the “easy button” – is increased cost and schedule contingencies. A lot of things can be solved by additional dollars and additional time. How do I quantify what that risk is?
If it’s an on-site issue, if I find rocks in the soil and my productivity takes a dive because I’m not digging as much as I need to, I can say, “Yeah, it’s going to take 10 percent more time, 10 percent more dollars. It’s a 20 percent chance of it happening.” I can do a probabilistic analysis, and come up with a risk cost that I can come up with.
How does one do that for escalation? I have no idea. It could be 10 percent tomorrow. Being able to quantify that is just about impossible, but, again, cost and schedule contingencies solve a lot of issues.
The other thing that I mentioned earlier is the use of available indices. I grew up in the age of the Internet. Oftentimes, I don’t appreciate the amount of information that we, as professionals, have at our fingertips. You can find cost indices for just about anything you want to find, publicly available information.
Bureau of Labor Statistics cost performance indices. I like to use FRED, the Federal Reserve Economic Data database, for various commodities. There’s also subscription-based indices that are utilized as well, that really dig into specific oil and gas commodities, like pumps, valves, pipe, different kinds of pipe.
The way we use these indices, going back to the discussion on the reimbursable model with clients, is if I’m reimbursable and I tell a client, “Hey, that $10 million piece I’m buying reimbursable went up to $15 million,” do you think a client’s going to say, “Oh, yeah. Here’s $5 extra million, Gary. Go have fun”?
No. They’re going to require indices or some kind of backup to justify your claim that the market actually took off on you a bit. That has risks in itself, in that perhaps your indices don’t match what you’re seeing actually on the market.
Russel: Or there’s a delay between the indices, and what you see in the market, particularly in an environment that we’re in right now, that’s moving as quickly as it is.
Gary: Exactly right. Or there’s an anomaly. Say I’m buying a piece of equipment in Eastern Europe. They have their own challenges that are totally different than what we’re dealing with here in the US, so maybe those don’t jibe. Just something to be cognizant of.
The other thing is contractual means with suppliers. I’m a big fan of flowing down delay liquidated damages, utilizing things like performance bonds, making sure there’s at least the financial backing if something goes sideways in the project that we’re able to mitigate our own risk as the EPC contractor.
The downside is you’re going to pay for that. If a contractor, like any contractor, if you’re going to hit me with LDs, I’m going to bake in some cost into my number, and you’re going to basically pay for it at the end of the day.
I’m sure, on a daily basis, we’re going to find more workarounds. We’re going to find things that work, things that don’t quite work. That’s just a handful of things we’ve had in our toolbox the last few years.
Russel: What you need to do is you need to find somebody who was a procurement manager, project manager, in the 1975 to 1985 time frame. All these things you’re talking about were all addressed. It’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about this before we had this conversation, Gary.
I’m reflecting back to what I remember seeing in contracts when I was doing contract management in the Air Force from ’80 to ’85. A lot of these kinds of things were addressed. Escalation was tied to the Consumer Price Index or something like that, and wasn’t tied to a flat rate.
What we’ve done in the last 30 years with just-in-time delivery and supply chain management is we’ve optimized, optimized, optimized, optimized, optimized, optimized. The problem with optimization is it doesn’t build in robustness. Now, what we need is robustness, much more so than optimization, because you can’t optimize in the current environment.
Gary: That’s interesting. I definitely appreciate the experience you had. It’s one of those things. I’m a big fan of data and books. It seems to be one of those things where you find somebody that went through that back at that time, even yourself. You could probably write a series of books on how-tos and dealing with this kind of environment when it comes around.
Russel: These things are cyclical. If you’re some economic theorist, everything is cyclical. Some of these cycles are longer than a person’s career. It’s not usual for somebody to see this twice in a single career. You see it one time, which means every time it comes around, it’s a new invention.
I remember there would be whole force majeure sections in contracts. They would get to line items for all the different kinds of supply. There’d be mechanisms for “Here’s what we’re going to do for piping. Here’s what we’re going to do for boilers. Here’s what we’re going to do for labor” and on and on and on.
They would all have escalation provisions. They would all be tied to some kind of indices, or some kind of flat rate, or some kind of provision for “You’ve got to go get three bids.” They would just figure it out.
The contracts were much more complex because of that. A lump-sum contract is a lot easier to manage. It’s just all the risk elements, not the execution elements.
Russel: It’s very interesting.
Gary: It’ll be one of those things. If it does come around again, hopefully these times between these cycles aren’t shortened. I will say, next time it comes around, at least I myself and my team will be a little more prepared to dive into it with solutions on day one. We’ll see.
Russel: Yeah, we’ll see. What would you say are the key things you’ve learned in the last two years just operating in the reality of our current environment?
Gary: I keep mentioning contracts. From a big EPC project perspective, the contract’s king, right? What it’s forced me and my team to better understand over the last two years is to broaden our views of the what-ifs that are out there. Again, it’s no longer what-ifs in the field, what-ifs in shipping. There’s a whole other set of what-ifs that aren’t even quantifiable.
Again, it’s using my example of rocks in the ground. That’s easy. I can put my eyes on it. I can see it. What if there’s some geopolitical issue that happens that delays everything, or just shuts down a shop overall?
It’s making sure that we’re taking that extra step, understanding those external, less quantifiable what-ifs, and understanding how they react within the confines of our contract.
It’s, honestly, forced me to better understand the marketplace. I’ve got this whole new mindset. Every morning while I’m drinking my coffee, my wife and I are watching the news, just about every story that pops up, since we’re so intertwined, we’re so interconnected, it’s like, “How’s this going to affect our projects?”
Even something as simple as a storm on the Gulf Coast. We all know what’s going on in Eastern Europe right now. It’s those things and understanding those things. Short term, long term, how’s this to affect me tomorrow? How’s this going to affect our projects a year from now? I’d say a totally different mindset on that.
Again, I’ll double down on the statement. Just the information we have at our fingertips, with indices, data, forecasting tools, things like that, is absolutely amazing. Definitely don’t take that for granted. I’ve learned a whole new skill set of communicating through tough discussions with clients.
Our clients are just like us. They’re trying to get a project done safely. They’re trying to meet their stakeholder expectations. They have a certain budget. They have a certain schedule they’ve got to hit. What I’ve found, my clients are particularly understanding of the challenges we face.
I can’t say they always agree with what we say, or the magnitude of it, but they understand the reality of the markets. They understand what’s out there, but I don’t doubt there’s clients out there, especially ones that are operating under a pre-COVID contract, that are like, “Well, that’s the contractor’s risk. The contractor has to deal with that. That’s what was signed up for.”
Communicating those realities of the marketplace with the client, and regardless of their temperature, making sure they understand what’s going on. The other thing is better quantification of contingencies. I mentioned earlier that dollars and time solve a lot of things.
Really digging down, “Hey, if I’m going to add a bunch of risk dollars to the project, it’s going to be on this indices over this time, looking at this snapshot of time and trends, and understanding where they’re going to go.” Even admitting when a contingency is truly a grab number, because there’s really no justification to it.
Oftentimes, when you’re using a grab number, it’s nice to find somebody with a little more gray hairs than I have to say, “Does this pass the sniff test to you? Is this looking OK?” Getting a second opinion on a lot of things like that. One of the positives I’ve seen is it really required myself to approach a broadened pool of suppliers.
For certain types of mechanical equipment, which again, is my technical background, I have this slate of suppliers that I’ve really called on for the last 18 years. I need three bidders for a proposal. This one, I know, isn’t taking any more orders for a while. Hey, let’s go talk to somebody else and see what they have to offer. Oh, OK, why haven’t I been going to them for the last few years? They seem to have a pretty good business, pretty good head on their shoulders, and a great product.
Then lastly, it’s really maintaining nimbleness, creativity, and sequencing of construction. Sure, we all want the things where we’re dropping equipment right when it’s going to be dropped, so we have the crews ready there to connect pipe, grout base plates, do alignments, things like that, but really understanding the what-ifs if you have a supply chain disruption.
OK, where can I move to keep things, number one, moving safely. Number two, keeping crews moving efficiently, and keeping work going, and staying on schedule. An example I like to use is, say I’ve got an electric motor-driven compressor.
The compressor’s built out. All the auxiliaries are installed and piped up, but my motor is sitting in a shop in Germany somewhere, and I can’t get it on a boat. Ship the compressor, ship the skid. Let’s get everything piped up. Let’s get the wiring done, let’s get the plumbing done, and we’ll drop the motor on when it’s ready.
Just things like that, and making sure that we empower our engineers and our designers to think that way as well in their design.
Russel: Right, and from a project execution standpoint, knowing where you can put a stop point, if you need to. There’s certain places in a project where you can put a stop point, and you can get some commercial benefit, and you can hold while you focus on getting the logistics and things in place to be able to take another bite out of the apple.
Getting to a planned stop point is much better than dealing with an unplanned stop point.
Gary: Right, people looking around at each other, and figuring out what they’re going to do next. Yes, absolutely.
Russel: Yeah, absolutely. This is really a fascinating conversation to me, Gary, because one of the things I hadn’t really thought about before we talked is I have some experience with all this from what I did very early in my career. I’m at the tail end of my career, and the number of folks that are still working that have experience is really small.
People like you, this is all brand new for you.
Gary: Brand new, yep. If I could give a piece of advice to everybody, one of my great mentors taught me early on, it’s just that there’s no playbook for this. Sometimes, you’ve just gotta sit back, take a deep breath, and then face reality, and proceed forward the best way you can, obviously, with safety being first and foremost, and secondly, keeping people moving.
Russel: Reality is a relentless son of a gun.
Gary: [laughs] Right. Obviously, that keeps project management “interesting,” I’ll put that in air quotes. If every project went to plan, I wouldn’t really have much to do. Our job at the end of the day is to provide direction, and give some guidance when things don’t go the way we think they’re going to go.
Russel: I’m going to try to summarize this whole conversation, Gary, and this is me just trying to process what we’ve been talking about, and thinking, “OK, what do I want to learn and take away from this conversation?” I think a couple of things.
One is you cannot assume that any kind of project is going to be executed the way it was pre-COVID. Just number one, you can’t do that. Number two is you need to think through all the potential supply chain and pricing disruptions, and you need a plan for managing that risk.
I think, at a very high level, that’s basically what you’re saying. You laid out a lot of ideas and a lot of concepts and processes for how to do that, but that’s really the key takeaway. Its project execution doesn’t look like it did pre-COVID, and you need a plan to mitigate labor issues, supply issues, pricing issues. Sounds easy, if you say it fast.
Gary: [laughs] Could have saved you a half hour. That was really good. Great points, Russel.
Russel: Look, I appreciate you joining us. It’s really been a valuable conversation.
Gary: Excellent. Appreciate the opportunity to speak, and hopefully, we do it again sometime.
Russel: I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of the Pipeliners Podcast, and our conversation with Gary. Just a reminder before you go. You should register to win our customized Pipeliners Podcast YETI tumbler. Simply visit PipelinePodcastNetwork.com/Win and enter yourself in the drawing.
Russel: If you have ideas, questions, or topics you’d be interested in, please let me know, either on the Contact Us page at PipelinePodcastNetwork.com or reach out to me on LinkedIn. Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you next week.
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