Three Ways to Avoid Costly Information Handover

While information management, data integration, interoperability and IT solutions and infrastructure have evolved, owner operators still struggle with poor quality and incomplete information they receive from their contractors at handover.

Handover information defines the engineering and design basis that is used across the entire asset lifecycle spanning decades, and must be accurate and complete and maintained that way from Front End Engineering (FEED) through Engineering and Design, and Operations and Maintenance. In reality this is seldom the case.

The quality of handover information is vital for the safe efficient and productive operation of the asset. If not managed properly, significant risks and costs are introduced impacting many critical areas of your operations:

  • Process Safety – leading to potential regulatory non-compliances, costly citations and litigation
  • Increased Safety Incidents – taking action and making decisions based on incorrect information
  • Increased Cost of Non-Productive Effort – when knowledge worker man-hours are wasted looking for information and making corrections.
  • Increased Risk of Facility Outages and Longer Start-Up Times – operating outside the design parameters, taking the wrong action during abnormal operating conditions and not having the correct information for start-up
  • Commissioning, Handover, and Start-Up Delays – increased time to compile commissioning information (e.g. commissioning and handover work packages), and populate operating systems (e.g. ERP/CMMS and MM systems)

These issues and risks are well known and have been pondered and discussed at length, yet still continue to be problematic. Clearly a different strategy is needed. In instances where the following efforts were implemented owner operators have mitigated most of these issues and have been satisfied with their information handover:

  • Clearly define and codify your information requirement and expectations. Contractually ensure that producers of the information understand their responsible for their data deliverables: both quality and integrity. Make sure your requirements and expectations are clearly understood, agreed upon and that your contract has suitable penalties for non-compliance (i.e. it must have teeth).
  • Define in detail your required information types and formats. Otherwise you are likely to get ‘dumbed down’ information in the form of paper PDFs that will be of limited use and will require considerable effort and rework to use with your other operating and maintenance systems (e.g. ERP/CMMS, MM systems). Once the information is handed over, in say a PDF format, do not expect to renegotiate another more usable format as this can prove to be extremely costly, if even possible.

The items above are best documented in a detailed information handover guide that is developed in collaboration with the information producers to ensure a clear understanding of requirements and their capabilities to deliver.

  • Demand your data to be handed over as soon as it is available. To avoid receiving a tsunami of documentation at the end of the engineering and design phase that will be impossible to manage or check for completeness. Perform regularly scheduled and documented (i.e. contractual) quality checks on the data as it is received and make sure you provide feedback expeditiously when issues arise for corrective action.

If the above are implemented, and enforced you will have as successful Information handover that will pay considerable dividends in costs savings, productivity, reliability and safety across the entire lifecycle of your facility.

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  1. Matt McKinley
    Jun 21, 2016 - 05:32 PM


    I could not agree more with your recommendations, as too many clients still have a disconnect between what they believe they want and what they ask for, so the Information HandOver specification is so important in establishing the rules before the project starts…Your 2nd point gather data early and often, then measure performance against the rules laid out in the IHS. It is not rocket science but unfortunately seems to still be overlooked in terms of priority, but long term as we move forward into this age of the Industrial Internet of Things this data exchange will be the difference between market leaders and laggards.

    Perhaps the readers might be interested to learn what BP, Chevron, Shell, Total and Inpex are doing on this subject in Europe on the Capital Facilities Information HandOver Specification project ( it is really offering some light at the end of the tunnel for the less mature organization to accelerate their competence in this area.


    Matt McKinley

    • Clive Wilby
      Clive Wilby
      Jun 22, 2016 - 11:27 AM

      Many thanks for taking the time to comment . Great points and I know USPI well and they have done some great work in setting standards that have resulted in ISO standards to evolve. For some reason OOs have not picked up on them and hence it is good to get the message out. ISPN/Fiatech have been in operation for a long time as you know and unfortunately have spent a considerable amount of time trying to get consensus and I wonder if the long lag time between their initiatives may be part of the reason for the poor take up. But as you well know from your experience despite all this work we continue to see the same issues repeat themselves. I am not sure what the reason is. Maybe as consultants and solution providers we need to do a better job at promoting these standards.