There is a common saying among carrier project managers:


In essence, that is the key to successful project management.


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Revise Project Plan


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Project management processes and techniques are used to coordinate resources to achieve predictable results. All projects need some level of project management. The question is whether the project will be managed reactively or proactively - in a structured and disciplined manner.

Analyzing project(s) failure is not an easy task. We are usually not equipped to deal with failures. One reason is that we tend to get defensive as an immediate response to failure. For example, individuals (meaning accidental project managers) involved in an unsuccessful project first attempt to justify their actions, ignoring the reasons for failure. This is precisely why many companies and individuals repeat similar mistakes in regular intervals. An analysis of the causes of the project failures can constructively provide the connection between ill-fated actions and project results.

Some Background:  There are several types of management processes. The major contributor to seismic project failure is using operations management(1) processes instead of specific project management processes. You cannot use operations management prerogatives to manage seismic projects (any project for that matter of fact) successfully.

(1)Operations Management refers to the administration of business practices to create the highest level of efficiency possible within an organization. Operations management is concerned with converting materials and labour into goods and services as efficiently as possible to maximize the profit of an organization.

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The company responsible for ensuring successful completion of the project, (the health and safety of the workers or the public on the work site) is referring to as a Prime or Principal Contractor. The Prime Contractor has a contract with the owner (usually Oil Company) of a project or job, and has the full responsibility for its completion. A prime contractor undertakes to perform a complete contract, and may employ (and manage) several subcontractors to carry out specific parts of the contract.


Project Management Companies (PMC): Listed as “Geo Land and Field Services” on the CAGC website, offer a wide range of services to the Oil Companies. Some of the services offered may be geophysical program design, government approvals, permitting, drill push, cat push, QHSE monitoring and of course, a “complete project management services???”


Data Acquisition Companies (DAC): Some of the acquisition companies can offer the same level of services as the project management companies plus the data acquisition, while others would prefer to focus only on data acquisition.

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Which Are You?


Project Manager

Operations Manager




How do you distinguish the role of project manager, operations manager and supervisor in your organization will determine whether the project will be completed successfully or not. Analysis of the seismic project failures clearly indicates that presently, in most cases if not all of them, the main reason for failure is the fact that there is no distinguishing difference realized in the roles by most of the operations managers. This leads to managing seismic projects using operations management methodologies instead of a specific and proven project management processes. Here are some examples how the project management is seen by many of those without formal training in project management discipline:


Deliver, Deliver, Deliver: Sticks and stones may break my team's bones, but I will meet all my milestones


Planning is for Wimps: We don't have a time for planning, we plan as we go. We do not need all that financial overhead of planning and controlling. Make yourself a star in your firm by helping to eliminate all those unbillable costs.


Whip your team to Higher Performance: You only need to gather all the people who aren't currently working on other projects and instruct them to produce, produce and produce.


Communication is for Losers: All this project management stuff should be obvious to the troops. If they want clarification, appoint a person to generate copious amounts of paper. It doesn't matter if the documents don't say anything; the key is to overwhelm any objections with binder upon binder of plans, checklists, reports and spreadsheets. The leader knows best.


The Big-Bang Effect: Push your team to restlessly generate deliverables without taking a moment to look at what you are actually producing. You can always go back and fix your problems later. The critical factor is to keep generating deliverables.


Common Sense Rules: Thinking of getting a formal education in project management? You don't really need to know all that mumbo-jumbo about Gantt Chart, Earned Value, Work Breakdown Structure, Cost Performance Index....All you really need is good old common sense, good instincts. I just need to throw plenty of "smart" bodies at the project, push them to work 20-hour days, and then just wait for the deliverables to start coming out.


Rub your clients and your boss Up the Right Way: You want to make sure that you take every possible step to satisfy every client's request and your boss, no matter how stupid, frivolous or long it delays your project. Sure, no problem. All you have to do is to refocus your resources, randomly re-assign people from other tasks and squeeze your project team even harder, making sure that you extract every last ounce of energy. Then squeeze some more.


Now, compare it with the definition of Operations Management(1)


Regardless of which role you are playing in your organization, it is important to understand the distinctions and the need for all three.  


In the late 90-ties terminologies such as Project Management and a Project Manager became popular words; today, just about everybody involved in supervising seismic projects is called a "Project Manager" and the work he/she does "Project Management". A great leap for many of them is the realization that what they do has a name, and that name is project management.


Do you actually have a project that requires a specific and proven management processes?


Click here and decide



Planning, Planning, Planning ... Planning.
It's hard to overestimate the importance of planning for project(s) such as seismic projects; any project(s) for that matter of fact. In general, project failures in most cases can be traced back to deficiencies in the planning process....



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