competence issues

These are just a few examples of the varying situations I’ve encountered where management of people’s competence proved to be the key issue:

  • A defence contractor was marketing consultancy and technical-service contracts to new clients in high-risk industries and needed a flexible line/function matrix of available resources.
  • A reservoir engineering company was trying to develop new-graduate trainees and give existing staff commercial skills – while growing very rapidly.
  • A subsea technology company tried to out-source all their manufacturing so they could focus on new-product development – but they encountered quality problems with their suppliers.
  • A major well services contractor found they were spending an inordinate amount of time responding to client audits, minor quality/ re-work issues, and describing their competence system when bidding for work.
  • A specialist instrumentation contractor employed field engineers working solo offshore; they had good technical skills, but avoided problem-solving and delegated decisions upwards – impacting on the company’s commercial edge.
  • A nuclear power generator needed a major conversion programme from operations to decommissioning – but a traditional sheep-dip approach would have outlasted the project.
  • An offshore ‘bodyshop’ contractor needed ways to assess the competence of people required quickly as ‘ad-hocs’ – but over whom they had no direct supervisory control.
  • A drilling and workover contractor had standards, procedures and assessment processes coming out of their ears, but they were given low priority and were seen as adding little value to the business.
  • At a top-tier chemical process plant, contracted tanker-drivers consistently failed to follow carefully-constructed procedures while carrying out safety-critical activities.
  • An engineering project management company had a complex system of technical development for in-house engineers, but did not monitor the effectiveness of the competence systems of contractors supplying their engineering workforce.
  • An oil refinery had had a ‘big bang’ caused by human error – despite a highly structured and sophisticated technical training and assessment system.
  • A major oil company had acquired a much smaller company, mainly for the entrepreneurial and commercial skills of their senior managers, but needed a framework to assess whom they should persuade to stay with them after the takeover.