Coordinating Personnel for Prelude and Ichthys Projects

Coordinating Personnel for Prelude and Ichthys Projects


Interviewee:    Gail Milne, formerly Offshore Commissioning Package Manager, TechnipFMC

Interviewer:    Stacey Magee

Questions prepared by:     Tiiu Tiisaar, General Manager, OPMS

Having the opportunity to be involved in Western Australia’s 2017/2018 Prelude and Ichthys projects, has been one of the highlights of the year for our team.  There are two reasons for it – the scale of the projects (in particular the Prelude project) and the working relationship we have developed with the TechnipFMC team.

The below numbers highlight the scale of the Prelude project:

  • Prelude is the biggest site ever managed using OPMS. It has peaked at 800+ personnel on board, with more than 2,500 people rostered throughout the project.
  • The logistics module has been utilized more intensively than ever with 5-6 helicopters a day and more than 500 – 2000 new entries or amendments to various bookings each day.
  • More than 30,000 competencies have been entered to personnel records during the project

Inevitably, every project has several unforeseen and often unique requirements. For a software package to be utilized successfully, it needs to be responsive as such challenges arise. We have been very fortunate to have Gail Milne as the main contact person for both Prelude and Ichthys projects. Her role has been crucial in communicating the requirements, ensuring that the existing functions are utilized well, and newly introduced functions rolled out smoothly.

I have been looking forward to the opportunity to ask her a few questions. Now, as the projects are starting to wind down, I wanted to find out more about the benefits that OPMS had brought to these projects for our Client.

NOTE:  As Tiiu is currently on maternity leave, the interview baton has been passed to me, I was excited to run with it to meet Gail as her reputation precedes her.  I worked on the Prelude project and only briefly waved at her across the partition, now was my chance to pick her brains!  

As an army marches on its stomach, so too does a successful interview.  So, on this moody Monday, off we went for breakfast at Sayers in Leederville to discuss all things oil and gas.  I think this catch up is particularly insightful for anyone that has not worked on projects the size of Prelude or within companies like TechnipFMC. 

Gail’s wealth of knowledge and experience is obvious in the way she approaches this discussion, to most, the numbers reported on this project would be overwhelming, to Gail they are just that, numbers. 

Read on for a peek through the window of the Ichthys and Prelude projects from Gail’s perspective.


Q:   Firstly, would you please describe what OPMS is used for on the Projects?

A:   OPMS is utilised for both the Ichthys and Prelude projects.  On Ichthys, it was predominantly rostering, training, payroll, and mapping for positions.  We found the pay rates, Client rates and cost to the company very useful also, these were included in our set up and assisted with many aspects of the project e.g. payroll checking/cross-referencing Suppliers’ invoices and preparing the Client’s and our own internal reporting.  Forecasting was made a lot easier utilising this information, we always knew where we were at in terms of expenditure, an essential part of running a successful project.

For Prelude; rosters, training, logistics and travel through Logistics Manager.  Timesheets were developed by OPMS specifically for the Prelude project and are used extensively.


Q:   Understanding systems and implementing various processes comes so naturally to you.  What’s your trick? How have you learned it?

A:   I’m not sure it comes naturally!  My first implementation was in 2003, I was involved in a company-wide implementation for Oracle in Aberdeen.  Working with multi-cultural teams and across many levels of management, I found it interesting and became part of my role from a Finance perspective.

I have always found it very beneficial to have the end Users involved in the process and not just the IT Department.  You need to get the buy in from the Users from the beginning to make it work.  Both from an implementation aspect and, for ongoing use within the business including development of the system to fit the ever-changing business requirements/needs.


Q:   Initially, your scope was purely related to the Ichthys project, but as time passed, you became involved in Prelude also.  Is OPMS used the same way across the two projects or have you faced some unique challenges?

A:   I have been involved in both implementations, Ichthys came first and the aim was to roll out the same basics on both projects. Prelude is a much bigger beast and inevitably there were different requirements between the projects.  As mentioned earlier, it is used in a lot of the same ways but with a few key differences.  Yes, there were some unique challenges, mostly the volume/number of people on Prelude.  It was the biggest project for OPMS and the sheer number of people on board made it a challenging project from the beginning.  Our biggest hurdle was the number of changes being made each day regarding logistics, up to 100 changes per day, especially during cyclone season/evacuations.  This is taxing on a team in the best circumstances, having a system that can manage this in bulk makes what can be a very manual process much more efficient.

At one point around Christmas, there was a 7-day period where there were no helicopters arriving or departing from the facility due to weather, this caused a backlog of around 600 people at the time, a mammoth task to manage.  Having the ability to import/export all information relating to travel and being able to ‘bulk’ move rosters has saved countless hours in this process, if there were changes, it is a simple import to update and make the changes, rather than someone having to go through traveler by traveler and update the individual.  This is particularly useful for logistics, both allocations, and bookings, ensuring the process is fast as well as accurate.


Q:   One of the enhancements we made during the projects is the flexible reporting and data import functionality.  You have created many export and import templates to meet the reporting requirements of the projects.  Do you find it easy to create new reports and import templates? What are your thoughts about the reporting functionality in general?

A:   Fairly easy, the fact that the Users can create their own templates and not have to apply/submit a request to OPMS each time to have this developed has been a great advantage.  Some companies also charge extra for these changes, knowing that these were part of the package made getting these changes in the system a very swift process, this would not have been the case if we were required to apply for approval for costing for each change we wanted, of which there were many.

The ability to test our own changes, formatting, personalisation and customising of reports is also another favourable inclusion with OPMS as an operating system.  We had the ability to standardise and create templates branded with our company information and logos, that were, in turn, able to interface internally with other systems in our organisation as well as externally with our Supplier’s and Client’s systems.

When we first started working with Atlas for this project, we sent our templates to them and could then communicate back and forth all information in a more streamlined fashion.  Mapping the Supplier’s reports to ours to then check all information matched up.  Worktypes were mapped specifically for Prelude and the supplier matched these at their offices, e.g. using the same terminology, this made it a lot easier when cross-checking and keeping things standardised across the project.


Q:   Have you enjoyed working with OPMS software and our team throughout the projects?

A:   Yes, of course, the team were very accommodating and adaptable.  No question was a silly question, being able to adapt the system to our needs has been hugely helpful.  Turnaround time for development is good, the support team are always responsive and available, again, very helpful in Oil & Gas as we are a 24/7 industry, having the ability to contact the team whenever we needed help has meant we are not left waiting for resolutions to queries even if they are on the weekend or outside of normal working hours.


Stacey and Gail after a wonderful breakfast at Sayers