The road to zero delay: Arjen Elderson on the promise of Advando 


“We make zero delay possible with our clients. That is a promise that gives a lot of energy to the cooperation. Everyone stands behind it. It is very much needed,” 

Arjen Alderson, CEO, Project Controls Specialist 

Advando’s 10th anniversary is, of course, a milestone that deserves to be celebrated. At the same time, it is a good moment to look to the future. Arjen Elderson, CEO at Advando since 2020, discusses our brand promise and how we offer value to clients and turnaround specialists. 


Lessons learned 

“Whether it is a chemical plant, a beer brewery or a drilling platform: once every few years, there is a mandatory major stop, a turnaround. Then everything is examined, cleaned, renewed or replaced. So that the asset can continue safely. If that doesn’t happen, you don’t get a licence to operate. It is a necessary evil for the business because it is annoying not to produce anything for three weeks. So it is best to restart production as soon as possible. Yet, the majority of these projects fail. They take too long, involve too much risk and cost too much money. It is clear that things have to change.” 

“Now, it is often the case that companies fall into the same pitfalls with every turnaround. Managing a turnaround, for example, is often something that someone does once. You see very few organisations that do two or three turnarounds with the same team. Because of the high turnover, little or no knowledge is secured, and no aftercare is done. Then you start from scratch every time. If you were to take into account the lessons learned from the previous turnaround, that would already make a huge difference.” 

A no-nonsense approach 


“Our colleagues have years of experience with all facets of turnaround management. We know how things work. And we want to make structural improvements. We look at the three major facets within a turnaround: People, Tech, Process. Or Professionals, Solutions and Consulting .”

“In each area, we observe: what is going well, what is not going well, and what needs urgent attention? Because we can put a zero delay programme in place for a customer, but it only works if we understand the context properly. If a thing is worth doing, then it’s worth doing well. So we ask solid questions and are very open with the customer. This is how we come up with a no-nonsense, step-by-step plan to work towards zero delay.” 

That plan is then implemented together with the customer. “That means hard work and having fun together,” says Arjen. “Getting closer and closer to zero delay is fantastic. That is why we like to have clients who pursue continuous improvement because that makes you want to grow and move forward. So that you can continue on the road to zero delay.” 

“That would be ideal: that the young talents would soon be wiser than their old masters.” 

The right mix
 
 

It also comes down to the right mix of specialists. “During a turnaround, a lot happens, and you work under high pressure. You have to be able to deal with that. We look for the right combination of hard skills and soft skills. Individually, but also as a team. Job profiles often list requirements and skills that don’t fit a single person. We make sure that different specialists complement each other well.” 
 
How do you find out what someone’s skills are? “We do assessments to find out. That way, we do not only find the best specialists, but we also know how they can develop further. In order to work on zero delay with more knowledge and pleasure.” 

Ideal picture 

“Developing talent is important to us. Ensuring that Advando employees can grow intensively and, in the meantime, further develop the company’s vision is what I’m focused on. That’s why I don’t stand still myself. Leadership starts with yourself. If you don’t know what you’re doing and why you are doing it, then you can’t include others in your mission. I am a servant in this respect. If we were a curling team, I would be busy with a broom so that my teammates could score.” 
 

A constructive work culture, then. “Yes, a climate in which you are autonomous, in which you can express yourself, in which you are allowed to make mistakes and where you can work on projects of all shapes and sizes. And where you make an indispensable contribution to zero delay. Together with the ‘old hands in the trade’, who will teach you a lot. I would consider that an ideal picture: that the young talents will soon be wiser than their old masters. That is continuous improvement in the long term. 

More control
 


Looking ahead is therefore essential to Arjen. “And for our clients. A client chooses us as a strategic partner to take big steps forward. To become more agile and get a better grip on the business. That is why TACS was invented. Apart from making the planning transparent, this software is to give more control to everyone working on a turnaround. That is where it starts. Having more control now means having a great result later.”