Customer Spotlight: How Deltek Acumen Helped TransCanada Cultivate Confidence in Risk Analysis

March 21, 2017

TransCanada is one of the largest pipeline companies in North America, operating a network of wholly-owned and affiliated pipelines that tap into virtually all major natural gas supply basins on the continent. The Major Projects Division at TransCanada is the team responsible for schedule risk, cost risk, escalation modeling, and decision tree modeling for all of the company’s projects, including joint venture projects that service external client needs. The team is made up of six to eight analysts that operate as a pooled resource to support a wide variety of teams – each with varying levels of expertise and understanding of schedule risk.

The Challenge
To expand the understanding and confidence of project teams with high quality risk analysis, the team needed a way to simplify and streamline without giving up the quality of their results. Part of the concern was that the existing software being leveraged was overly complicated. It produced high quality results and analyses, but it was difficult to train others to use and analysts had a hard time explaining the results in a concrete and understandable way to their clients.

The Solution
TransCanada wanted a tool that:

  • Enhanced an analyst's ability to create and maintain relationships with project teams
  • Improved the overall quality of analysis
  • Created an understanding of variability in the project schedule
  • Produced models that reflect the schedule variability
  • Was easily trainable
  • Was fully supported by the vendor with an associated community of users that could be tapped into for additional knowledge and training
  • And most importantly, could help TransCanada achieve better confidence in its results

After a careful evaluation of a variety of software solutions for schedule risk, team leaders settled on Deltek Acumen Risk. The Major Projects Division determined Acumen Risk would be able to enhance the analysts’ ability to create and maintain relationships with internal project teams, improve overall quality of their analyses and most importantly, achieve better confidence in its results. The team is also leveraging complementary Deltek tools Open Plan and Acumen Fuse for support with scheduling and diagnostics, respectively.

The Benefits
Implementing Deltek Acumen Risk has brought numerous benefits to TransCanada, including better importing functionality, real-time reporting, improved analysis, and enhanced integration capabilities—all within an easy to use interface.

Accurate Imports
One of the factors that led TransCanada to Acumen Risk was quite simple, but very important: the software imported schedules correctly. While their existing software offered workarounds to make sure that schedule dates from P6 accurately lined up, with Acumen Risk, the process was automatic. Acumen Risk also offers improved XER file import functionality. With P6 files coming in – in various states of quality, consistency and organization – and multiple groups responsible for inputting updates on a regular basis, facilitating the overall integrated product schedule could be quite complicated. With the import functionality inherent in Acumen Risk, it is much clearer and easier to see what has been done right or wrong – an extremely valuable element to helping to sell analysis results to clients.

Simplified and Faster Results
Another key decision factor for the team leaders at TransCanada was the ability to demonstrate the value – in real-time – of schedule risk analysis to each and very client. In order to do that, the software had to be easy to use for a varied group of analysts. Acumen Risk speaks in terms that people want to talk in, specifically days. For example, tornado charts are reported in days rather than a correlation percentage. That allows analysts to sit down with Project Managers and/or their teams and quickly demonstrate results, without additional explanation or translation of data required. Additionally, from a workflow perspective, the information that can be received and imported into the analyst’s models is significantly faster with Deltek Acumen. Whether the client has a 5- or 10,000-line schedule, results are processed in minutes – a tremendous benefit when being responsive to your clients’ needs is of the utmost importance.

User Friendly Graphical User Interface (GUI)
The GUI for Acumen Risk is viewed as being very user friendly. New analysts can be trained in hours or days instead of weeks, and the software is generally intuitive. All of the functions analysts need are readily available and clear, and complex scenarios can be modeled with limited knowledge of the software (as long as the user has a basic understanding of the fundamentals of schedule risk). TransCanada analysts work on schedules that range from 250 activities to 10,000+ lines. No matter what the size of the schedule, it can be loaded into Acumen Risk, automatically run through the Monte Carlo simulation and improvements can be seen right away.

Improved Scenario Analysis
Acumen Risk allows TransCanada to create a risk-adjusted schedule for their teams to compare against the original for scenario analysis. This is a key factor, as many of the company’s projects are permit based where the significant digits are measured in quarters and months, not weeks and days. Acumen Risk helps the analysts quickly run scenarios and present the data in an easy to understand, professional manner.

Enhanced Integration
Finally, Deltek Risk allows users to integrate with existing scheduling tools to make automatic changes directly in the schedule and save it as a new scenario – without having to change the original file received. This allows analysts to demonstrate schedule risk on an adjusted schedule, and quickly highlight any changes that may be required by the client. For instance, if the scheduler or planner doesn’t want to make the changes themselves, the risk analyst can go into the schedule and change them automatically, and even be selective. If there is a lag that has good basis for being there, but others that should be shifted to activities – analysts can make those changes while still maintaining the logic. Constraints that affect only the analyst’s finish on times can also be removed. All of this can be done simply and in real-time, instead of having to generate a report and go back to make changes at a later date.

While TransCanada leverages multiple tools for schedule risk analysis, Deltek Acumen Risk has emerged as the preferred tool for analysts at all levels. Reports are produced faster and easier. Simply put, in an environment that gets more and more competitive each day, Acumen Risk is helping Major Projects at TransCanada do better.

Interested in giving Acumen Risk a test drive at your organization? Sign-up for a no obligation, free trial, by clicking here.