Roberto Newton Carneiro, Comgás,
Sao Paulo, Brazil
The Project Pipeline
IN THE VOLATILE energy industry,
there’s little room for error. Roberto Newton Carneiro, CIO at Comgás, Brazil’s largest natural gas
distributor, relies on sound project management
principles not only to accommodate tight deadlines
and budgets, but to help ensure projects deliver
direct and measurable results.
For almost five years, he has overseen many
high-profile, highly complex IT business solutions projects, including the implementation of
major infrastructure management and several
large outsourcing initiatives. He leads a team of
30 employees and more than 80 contractors, all
working on a vast portfolio of projects aimed at
helping the company maintain its competitive
edge in the marketplace.
How does Comgás manage its projects?
Our approach is not limited to project management but expands to portfolio management as part
of a broad IT governance model. Our main objective is to guarantee that every IT investment brings
value to Comgás as well as ensuring that each particular project meets its core objectives.
We have a project management office that
is focused on delivering IT projects and we try
as much as possible to stay in line with A Guide
to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
How do you decide which projects
should be a part of your portfolio?
We are going through a series
of reviews by internal committees of the IT demands within
the organization and assessing
these demands against the value
that they can bring to the organization. This review process
will enable us to prioritize those
projects and investments that
will deliver the greatest value and
ROI to Comgás, so we can best determine
which projects and improvements should
receive investment. Our portfolio management approach requires every project within
the organization to be directly related to a
strategic goal as part of our business case and
How do you manage risk?
Risk management is an important part of our
project management practices. Prior to project
initiation, we list all of the possible risks and rank
them according to the probability that they will
occur, potential harms to the organization if they
do occur, and any mitigating factors. No project in
Comgás starts without risk assessment.
What unique challenges do you face managing
projects in the natural gas industry?
We operate with narrow margins, which means
that projects must always meet their time and
budget targets. They also need to fully realize
their projected benefits, or we risk losing profitability. The tightly regulated business environment
requires that project status, outcomes and post-implementation reviews be constantly presented to
regulators. This adds time and complexity to the
And fierce competition and accelerated business
expansion put constant pressure on project teams
to deliver results without delays and ensure that the
planned benefits are fully realized.
What have been your biggest struggles?
One of the hardest challenges we face now in particular is the completion of a large customer relationship management and billing solutions project
that was delivered last year but failed to meet some
of its objectives.
It was the most important project delivered at
Comgás for the past year, and one of the reasons
the project failed was that project management
techniques were poorly used. We decided to reopen
the project to fix the problems, enhance what we
recognized as deficiencies or limitations in the
original project plan, and develop all the missing
parts using a more strict approach to the project
management methodology. We are already seeing
good results. PM
their time and
They also need
to fully realize
we risk losing