View Only

Implementing Operational Readiness: Flawless Startup & Steady State Availability for First Operating Cycle


By Regan Pooran

What is Operational Readiness?

An Operational Readiness Program is executed from the project’s inception and throughout the commissioning and startup phases. This program has four primary objectives:

  1. Ensure that projects meet first cycle of operations at the required production availability with minimal disruptions impacting health, safety, reputation, and product quality.
  2. Ensure assets are developed in accordance with the Capital Expenditure (CapEx), Operating and Maintenance Expenditure (OpEx) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) priorities and production performance requirements as directed by the business case.
  3. Successfully set up the Asset Management Program for execution during the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) phase.
  4. Train, organize and ready the reliability and maintenance workforce for the execution of the Asset Management Program, beginning day one.

Why an Operational Readiness Program?

The Operational Readiness Program provides benefits for commissioning and startup, production availability and the reduction of Capital Expenditure (CapEx), Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Operational Expenditure (OpEx).


Operational Readiness Program Benefits

Commissioning &

- Mitigates and eliminates design and construction defects, which impact commissioning and startup. - Flawless startup on first operating cycle, meeting production targets.

Production Availability

- Ensures that the design meets the contractual production availability/capacity target. Identify the design options to increase production availability by 2–6%.

CapEx Reduction

- Ensures that the new assets/system meets availability and capacity requirements with minimal capital investment; potentially resulting in 2–5% CapEx reductions.
- Implements cost-effective design options: Storage tank buffering, bypass and valve arrangements and operation contingency plans to reduce asset installed redundancy whilst meeting the production availability target.
- Implement offline sparing options and capital spares procurement and storage to improve asset maintainability to ensure that unplanned corrective maintenance durations of un- spared assets have minimal impact on production availability.
- Apply electronic health monitoring on un-spared assets to increase reliability and reduce maintainability times.

TCO Reduction

- Enables design options which minimize the TCO of the new assets/system, potentially resulting in 5–25% TCO reduction.

OpEx Reductions

- Develops asset strategies and inspection plans based on the criticality of assets and their failure modes and consequences, yielding 10–40% reduction in reactive maintenance.
- Develop asset strategies and inspection plans to align with reliability and maintenance cost targets.
- Design decisions are implemented for improvements to maintainability, operability and reliability such as access, equipment selection/modifications, spares management and equipment health monitoring.
- Develop plans, procedures and workforce development programs to execute asset strategies in a manner that is “sustainable” and cost-effective, improves maintainability and reduces infant mortality failure rates.
- Optimization of spares reorder points and min/max inventory levels, resulting in 5–10% inventory cost reductions and improved maintainability

Digitalization Preparedness

- Establishes digital thread for assets and builds upon this thread in each successive phase.
- Incrementally develops the asset digitalization platform for execution during the O&M phase.

Elements of an Effective Operational Readiness Program

An effective Operational Readiness Program aligns people/organization, process and tools/technology in a coordinated and systematic manner and at the right time to achieve the targeted benefits indicated above. The table below indicates the key objectives that must be accomplished in each of these areas.

Impact Areas

Key Activities


- Ensure clear organization alignment with business drivers for the Operational Readiness Program. These drivers include: value to customer; competitiveness; reduced TCO, CapEx, OpEx and HSE incidents; production availability increase/target compliance; and engaged anddeveloped workforce.
- Ensure organization commitment to Operational Readiness Program deliverables at each stage gate, locking in the benefits


- Ensure integration between operational readiness modules and associated process activities, indicating inputs/outputs of work products and information/data flow between modules.
- Ensure there are work instructions and SMEs trained on each operational readiness module.
- Ensure that the operational readiness activities are appropriate based on the informational details available during each phase: Inception → FEED → Detail Design → Construction → Commissioning/Startup.
- Ensure that the work products from the operational readiness activities are timely, such that design changes and operational decisions can be conveniently executed.
- Ensure that the level of effort (for strategies, job plans, work instructions, spares management,etc.) allocated to assets are in sync with the assets’ criticality rating


- Align tools/technologies to support the business processes of the integrated operational readiness program, and not the other way around.
- Ensure that the CMMS/EAM is properly set up and populated, and capabilities fully exploited.
- Ensure that tools/technologies (such as an Asset Performance Management (APM) platform) can support an integrated Operational Readiness Program.
- Ensure availability of good-quality and consistent asset data to support an APM platform.
- Ensure the digital maturity of the organization is at a level capable of supporting an APM platform

Integrated Operational Readiness

Accessing the benefits of Operational Readiness requires a holistic end-to-end process across the entire life cycle of the project. Additionally, the Operational Readiness activities are “right” sized for each project based on the project’s scope and complexity. The Operational Readiness Program comprises the following integrated modules, which encompass the processes and activities that are applicable to the project phases based on the level of details/information available and the operational readiness deliverables required prior to the stage gate review:

Operational Readiness Modules

Applicable Project Phase

Business Case for CapEx, OpEx, TCO


Operational Expenditure Estimate

Initiation → Feasibility → Front End Engineering Design (FEED) →
Detailed Engineering (increasing accuracy based on progressive project details)

Operational Readiness Planning & Budgeting

Feasibility → FEED → Detailed Engineering → Construction

Production Availability Assurance (Reliability Availability Maintainability (RAM) Analysis)

Feasibility → FEED → Detailed Engineering → Construction

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Analysis

Feasibility → FEED → Detailed Engineering

Asset Reliability & Maintenance Work Management System

Feasibility → FEED → Detailed Engineering

Operational Risk Register & Mitigation Action

FEED → Detailed Engineering (risks identified; based on the phase, the risk mitigation action can be executed)

Maintenance Workshops & Associated Facilities

FEED → Detailed Engineering (based on progressive project details)

Mechanical Completions

FEED → Detailed Engineering (based on progressive project details)

Design for Reliability, Maintainability and Operability

FEED → Detailed Engineering → Construction (based on progressive project details)

Equipment Criticality Assessment

FEED → Detailed Engineering

Risk-Based/Conventional Mechanical Integrity

FEED → Detailed Engineering

Equipment Strategies for Rotating, Electrical and Instrumentation Asset Class

FEED → Detailed Engineering

Asset Register Development

FEED → Detailed Engineering

Materials & Inventory Management

FEED → Detailed Engineering

Maintenance & Inspection Planning

Detailed Engineering

Condition-Based Monitoring System Development

Detailed Engineering → Construction → Commissioning

Advanced & Predictive Analytics Program Development

Detailed Engineering → Construction

Asset Information Lifecycle Management

Detailed Engineering → Construction

Maintenance & Inspection Workforce Development

Detailed Engineering → Construction → Commissioning

Asset Performance Management Platform Planning & Implementation

Detailed Engineering → Construction → Commissioning

CMMS/EAM Implementation

Construction → Commissioning

About the author: Regan Pooran

Mr. Pooran has 25 years of experience in project management and technical leadership. He is currently the Operations Manager for Phoenix Engineered Solutions Inc. (. He has previously directed Jacobs Engineering Ltd./Worley Canadian Project Operational Readiness and Maintenance Excellence programs. Mr. Pooran has managed and led projects for Operational Readiness, Maintenance Excellence, Mechanical Integrity, and Reliability Engineering Programs - specifically related to: Equipment Hierarchy Development, Maintenance Procedure/ Job Plan Development, Risk-Based Inspection (RBI), Reliability Availability Maintainability (RAM) & Production Modeling/ Studies, Life Cycle Cost Assessments, Root Cause Analysis (RCA), Risk Based Mechanical Integrity, Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM), Management Consulting. He has also designed management systems and architectures for asset management services, project execution, and business systems.