The Business Case - Emotion & Logic

In every company, the fundamentals are the same – operations, sales and marketing, finance and admin.  If you want to get approval for a project, it is Important to demonstrate the benefits to each are of the business.  Here is an outline of items to consider when looking to develop a proposal.



  1. Cost of ownership
    • Labor required – staffing
    • Energy consumption
    • Perishables – helium, fuel, etc.
    • Opportunity costs
  2. Maintenance
    • Regular/scheduled downtime
    • Expertise required to maintain
    • Service and support strategy
    • Operator skill level to operate
  3. Logistics
    • Part flow and frequency
    • Expected support required


Sales and marketing

  1. Sales tools – Is this something to brag about?
  2. Capacity – Does this increase the ability to take on more business?
  3. New customers – Helps leverage experience for obtaining new customers.
  4. Technology – Does this technology give sales and marketing something to talk about? Does it uniquely...
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Capital Project Team Members

In my experience, this step is nearly always skipped in the process of managing a capital project.  However, the most successful project managers clearly define expectations of each project team member.  It is worth defining the Project Team Members.  These are members of the project that have specific and defined responsibilities/roles to help ensure project success.  This is the “get it done” crew.  Team members are appointed by the stakeholders of the project.  These folks are typically management and customers.  They report to the people that dole out the funding for capital projects.  It is important to keep them informed regarding project status.  They don’t typically like surprises.

Ideal capital project teams will consist of the following members:

  1. Project Manager – This person is responsible for keeping the project on track. They will interact with many people throughout the organization.  For...
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Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is a term used to reference the next phase of the industrial revolution.  My preference at this point is to call it an industrial evolution.  Technology continues to advance at rapid rates, but it has, for the most part, been compartmentalized.  In other words, cloud computing has primarily been applied to software services and file storage.  Industrial connectivity has focused on the collection of data and remote access for diagnostic purposes.  The Internet of Things (IoT) has not been leveraged in the industrial world.  Artificial Intelligence has largely not been leveraged in the industrial world either.


Industry 4.0 brings these technologies to industrial applications, allowing increased connectivity among devices and controllers.  If applied correctly, this increased connectivity will allow for decentralized decision making to take place.  These decisions will be made in real-time based on the communication between...

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Capital Project Mastery

After college, I had my dream job.  As a boy growing up in southern Indiana, I wanted to work at Cummins Engine Company.  Not only was Cummins the largest employer in the area, but it also paid the best and all my friends that had parents working there seemed to have money.  So, I was delighted to have an opportunity to work there as a manufacturing engineer.  I had only been working at Cummins for a week or two when my boss came to me about a new project.  The area I was responsible for had a need for a new wash system and they needed me to handle it.  I was elated about the opportunity at first.  After all, the company was trusting me with a six-figure budget and freedom to make it happen.  There was a problem.  I had no idea where to begin.  There were no classes in college that instructed me on how to manage a capital project.  How do I find potential vendors?  What and who would determine if the project was a...

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The Happy Ending

Maya Angelou said “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It occurred to me that this statement applies to more than just conversations or interactions with others. It can be applied to nearly all aspects of life and work. If you want to leave the person you are interacting with feeling good about themselves, or a customer feeling good about your company, just focus on a happy ending.


First let’s go over the fundamentals of attentively interacting with another person or company:


  1. Be present when they are present. What comes to mind when a person you are talking to looks at their phone or watch?  They aren’t paying attention, or maybe there is something more important for them to tend to. Wherever you are, being there is fundamental to building meaningful relationships and maintaining sanity in this ultra-connected world. Think of your...
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Fundamentals Of A Capital Project

Every capital project is different, yet every capital project has similar components that are the fundamentals to excellent execution.


Every project should have a measurable return. Most of the time, this will be a return on capital. However, there are exceptions that focus on safety and quality. It is important that as a project manager you have a clear understanding as to why the company is making an investment in the first place. When you know why, you can make certain to align expectations and communications accordingly.


Developing an Executive Summary for the project saves time and becomes a reference point throughout the project. The executive summary is a roll-up of all the major aspects of the project including justification, timing, cycle times (if applicable), budget, stakeholder commitments, and other key aspects worth noting in one spot.


The Ideal Partner Summary defines the ideal partner for your company. The ideal partner should be clearly...

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Doomed: The Long-Term Impact Of Mental Laziness

Our society’s lust for comfort and entertainment is insidiously reducing its ability to observe reality.  The further society moves away from observing reality, the faster it will collapse.  History has demonstrated that societies rise and fall as do businesses.  The battleground in a democratic society supported by capitalism appears to be between government and business.  What are they battling for is the question?  Our attention is the answer!  They apply different strategies for capturing our attention.  For example, the media (media is a business posing as a third-party informant) knows that negativity and sensationalism appeal to our primal nature.  Humans are hard-wired for fight or flight at every turn.  The media (and politicians) exploit this natural tendency at every turn.  Businesses exploit this tendency by limiting quantities through supply management.  Nothing sells better than scarcity.


This article...

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Yes or No?

Opportunities and activities abound.  Everyone is ready to occupy our time with this or that.  In my studies of success and high performers, a common thread has emerged.  Learning to say “no” is a significant contribution to their long-term success.  Saying no is difficult.  We naturally desire to please others or take advantage of what appears to be an amazing opportunity that could further our career or grow our business.  Opportunities come at us left and right, so how do we choose?  Why should we say “yes” to this opportunity, and “no” to that activity?  Is there a strategy that can help us say no with confidence that we are making the right decision?  I have developed a strategy that has become helpful to me and I hope it is helpful to you.


Step #1 –

Have a list of goals and priorities accompanied with a list of non-negotiable core values.  When we have a clear vision of...

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I Quit

Recently, I quit a professional group that I had been a part of for several years.  In this professional group, I had built intimate relationships with fellow members.  The perceived social pressure to continue with this group can be significant.  I dreaded the decision.  What would my group mates think about me quitting?  I was concerned about how the conversation would go.  I avoided the decision for several months even though I knew it was the right thing to do given my availability.  Finally, I quit.  It turns out nobody gave it a second thought except for me.  Their lack of shock doesn’t mean they don’t care that I won’t be with them but I had built it up in my head as though it would. It is truly a microcosm of life itself.  We think everyone is watching us.  We think that our decisions to serve our own lives will get extra scrutiny.  The truth is, nobody cares but us.  No one has invested in...

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Executives Cause Chaos – Management Silent

Executives Cause Chaos – Management Silent


Yes…I said it.  For some reason, nobody else will.  Is it arrogance or ignorance?  Why does it take so long to approve capital projects?  I have spent the last twenty-four years of my career advising customers on capital projects.  There are three critical responsibilities for a capital project manager.


1.    Manage the Budget – We all understand the key to successful capital investment is Return on Capital.  There are other reasons to invest but the main reason is to generate more cash for the business.  This requires prudence to ensure maximum ROC.

2.    Be on Time – When the capital is late, the ROC is delayed because revenue can’t be generated.  The sooner the capital is in place, the sooner it can begin generating revenue.  In some cases, having it in place allows for ample debug or run time on the equipment, ensuring...

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