Planning for Startup (Best Practice)

RT-121 Topic Summary
RT 121


CII defines startup as the transitional phase between plant construction completion and commercial operations, including all of the activities that bridge these two phases. Critical steps within startup include system turnover, checkout of systems, commissioning of systems, introduction of feedstock, and performance testing.

Successful project delivery and commercial operation requires a successful startup. Research indicates a reasonably strong correlation between startup success and comprehensive startup planning. This CII Best Practice provides a Startup Planning Model for startup activities through all eight project phases. The CII Startup Planning Model is a sequence of 45 planning activities that begins during Phase 1 – Feasibility, and extends through Phase 8 – Operations, and is facilitated by 26 tools. The approach is not prescriptive; instead the expectation is to identify the planning activities and tools that will best support successful startup for the specific project.

The importance of startup planning is exemplified by the pressures to increase profits by reducing costs, reductions in owner staff and increases in outsourcing of services, demands for shorter project life-cycle times, and a lack of planning capabilities and supportive tools. These business and project challenges demand increases in organizational efficiency and management effectiveness.

The owner’s project manager is the overseer of the startup planning process. This individual is accountable for the success of startup planning and the startup execution that follows.

Through high use of this Planning for Startup best practice results in:

  • 7.4% cost improvement for owners
  • 7.9% schedule improvement for owners
  • 10.3% cost improvement for contractors

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Planning for Startup Model

Provides a best practice approach that emphasizes the value of up-front planning for optimal execution. Planning is an up-front investment with a later payoff of a more successful project startup. Implementing the 45 startup activities in the Startup Planning Model organized across the 8 project phases will significantly increase the predictability of startup success. (RS121-1, p. 2)
Reference: (RS121-1)

2 : 26 Startup Planning Tools

The 45 startup activities of the Startup Planning Model are complemented with 26 tools across the eight project phases to facilitate the implementation of the startup planning activity. Twenty of these tools focus on the critical areas of front end engineering and detailed design. (IR121-2, p. 9)

Four examples of these 26 tools:

  • Tool 1-A-2: Startup Planning Assessment Tool 
  • Tool 2-C: Startup Financial Risk Assessment Checklist 
  • Tool 3-I: Checklist of Typical Startup Activities 
  • Tool 3-C-2: Sample RACI Chart 
Reference: (IR121-2)

3 : Startup Planning Quality Gates

The research identifies these 6 startup planning gates. The "Quality Gate" concept emphasizes the importance of planning milestones or checkpoints for assessing the thoroughness of startup planning to ensure that all appropriate planning is completed, prior to moving on to the next step of project development. (IR121-2, p. 7)

  • Recognizing the impact of startup on project economics
  • Updating the startup execution plan
  • Finalizing the operations and maintenance organization and management systems
  • Check-out systems
  • Commission systems
  • Finalizing documentation
Reference: (IR121-2)

4 : RACI (Responsibility-Accountability-Consult-Inform) Chart by Phase

Startup planning requires a team approach. RACI Chart is a matrix of activities versus organizational positions; for the purpose of assigning activity responsibility, accountability, those to consult, and those to inform. The Startup Planning Model identifies the key roles, by each phase, in the form of a RACI chart.
Reference: (IR121-2)

5 : Barriers to Successful Startup Planning

Everyone involved in startup planning should be aware of the barriers and challenges to effective planning. The research identifies 140 barriers to successful startup grouped into five themes: (IR121-2, p. 9)

  • Ineffective communication
  • Schedule pressures
  • Lack of personnel, information, or other resources
  • Denial of potential problems
  • Planning efforts applied too late in the process
Reference: (IR121-2)

6 : Implementation Tool #1

IR121-2, Planning for Startup

This implementation resource provides the Startup Planning Model to help plan startups in a more thorough, effective, and efficient manner. It provides full details of the 45 startup planning activities identified by the research team. These activities have been organized by eight typical project phases and are supported with 26 tools.
Reference: (IR121-2)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved product quality and capacity, Improved schedule, Improved safety, Environmental compliance, Improved operations performance

Research Publications

Planning for Startup: Analysis of the Planning Model and Other Success Drivers - RR121-11

Publication Date: 11/1999 Type: Research Report Pages: 175 Status: Reference

Planning for Startup: Overview of Research - RS121-1

Publication Date: 06/1998 Type: Research Summary Pages: 22 Status: Supporting Product

Planning for Startup - IR121-2

Publication Date: 04/1998 Type: Implementation Resource Pages: 158 Status: Tool

Supporting Resources

Education Materials

Planning for Startup - WS121-01

Publication Date: 10/2010 Type: Video Pages: 0 Status: Supporting Product

Planning for Startup - Instructor's Guide - EM121-21

Publication Date: 08/2000 Type: Education Module Pages: 0 Status: Supporting Product

Planning for Startup - Participant Handbook - EM121-21A

Publication Date: 08/2000 Type: Education Module Pages: 0 Status: Supporting Product

Presentations from CII Events

Session - Decrease Startup Time, Increase Bottom Line

Publication Date: 07/1998 Presenter: Number of Slides: 24 Event Code: AC98

Session - Planning for Startup-The Final Step

Publication Date: 09/2012 Presenter: Number of Slides: 44 Event Code: PIW912

Session - The Implementation Planning Model

Publication Date: 09/2012 Presenter: Number of Slides: 37 Event Code: PIW912