PIC Jan Blog 3

Manage Pipeline Threats Effectively through PDCA

Programs and Activities to Address Risk (PAAR)

When API RP 1173 was released in 2015, it changed the way many organizations viewed established systems to manage pipeline safety. API RP 1173, a standard that outlines requirements for a pipeline safety management system (PSMS), provides pipeline operators with a framework to continually improve their safety performance by implementing a Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) methodology across the organization.

PAAR to Manage Pipeline Threats

In response to API RP 1173, P.I. Confluence coined the term PAAR (Programs and Activities to Address Risk) to capture all programs and activities that organizations execute in order to create a more safe operation through reducing risk. This includes those programs and activities required by code or state regulation or part of your organization’s internal pursuit to manage and address threats.

With API RP 1173, P.I. Confluence expanded our PipelineWatch tool which was used for Public Awareness Stakeholder Engagement to create pSEc (pipeline Stakeholder Engagement communication).  pSEc is a configurable mobile application for collaborative communication and information exchange engaging internal and external stakeholders in process improvement. pSEc supports geographic, role, and domain-based notification, disposition, and resolution. Providing the ability to measure safety performance KPIs. pSEc seeks to close the loop for managing PAARs by incorporating stakeholder engagement as the “check” in PDCA.

pSEc helps you build the framework to ensure you have all the right parts and pieces in place to properly execute the PAAR. Over time, tracking the processes and tasks will help you identify variations, and determine whether the issues are improving or declining. In this instance, the goal of pSEc is to help organizations optimize their PAAR, and as a result, reduce inefficiencies and spending that isn’t providing value. 

If all the current PAAR are satisfying your organization’s KPIs, then the next logical step would be to look at generating a new PAAR and using the feedback from the stakeholders helps to point you in the direction of development.

Are we managing pipeline threats and risk appropriately?

Plan. Do. Check. Act. 

For many years, the industry has been working to improve its planning and doing. Although we’ve gotten a grasp on these two components of PDCA, unfortunately, the ‘Check’ part of the cycle has fallen by the wayside. The lack of formally checking the effectiveness of those plans leads to an increased risk and potential safety issues in pipeline operations.

In this era of Pipeline Safety Management Systems (PSMS), operators should be Planning, Doing, Checking, and Acting to support the quality management requirements that are integral to API 1173 framework for Pipeline SMS.

In order to determine the effectiveness of specific PAAR, or the actions you’re taking to reduce risk, feedback from the field is critical. When a disconnect exists between the field and operations, it is impossible to accurately address the inefficiencies you aim to solve. This is the ‘Check’ portion of the PDCA cycle. Information gathered from the field crew and operating personnel can be used to identify issues with the PAAR and inform future decisions around its continued execution. This feedback from operators helps to provide a leading indicator of PAAR effectiveness. pSEc can be used to determine leading indicators of issues. If there are no leading indicators to show a gap, then the assumption is the work is being executed consistently and accurately.

Direct Feedback Helps Answer Questions Like:

  • Do we need to revisit training to correct poor execution?
  • Is the equipment causing the problem? Are we able to pinpoint the source?
  • Are we lacking resources (people) to execute the work?
  • Inefficient scheduling causing time constraints that prevent proper execution?
  • Are procedures still current and correct over time?

If the PAAR put in place are performed consistently and accurately across the operation, the data that the PAAR provides can be analyzed to determine if it supports the reduction of risk. The data gathered from PAAR serves as a lagging indicator to help determine its effectiveness.

Common Problems Faced

There is a high cost associated with implementing new programs or processes within your operation. All of that time and effort is best put to use when common problems are addressed before they happen. 


Is the PAAR being implemented consistently across the board? This variation in execution can skew the data and cloud the results over time. The data is what will justify the continuation of the PAAR, so it must be executed consistently and correctly to measure effectiveness.

Data Collection

Are we collecting the right data? Are we collecting data at all? Oftentimes, we let intuition guide us, and processes or procedures are implemented because we assume to know the fix. The only way to verify what we’re doing is having an impact is to analyze the data gathered after implementing the PAAR. Reviewing the data not only justifies the implementation of the PAAR, but it can also help justify further actions that can lead to increased efficiencies, reduced costs, and greater safety awareness in your operation. 

Data Review

Another often overlooked or undervalued step in evaluating successful PAAR implementation is data review. If you’re executing the PAAR consistently and collecting data, it’s important to review that data regularly.  Every organization is different, and every threat is different, so there isn’t a predetermined review frequency. Regular data review (the ‘Check’ in PDCA) will help you adjust and recalibrate the PAAR (the ACT of PDCA) to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.

Example – PAAR: Leak Categorization

What threats do you have on your system?

The first step in addressing leaks is categorizing them properly. Categorizing leaks in your operation can help determine the level of threat they might pose. It is imperative that your team is aligned on how to assign these leaks to their appropriate threats. A consensus amongst your team is fundamental to positioning yourself to accurately define the threat level of a leak. Once you have determined the cause of the leaks, you’ll be able to identify a level of risk per each threat in your system. 

This information can then be used to help you develop an appropriate PAAR in response to the threat.

Using pSEc to check the PAAR of leak categorization. 

pSEc allows you to get a full view of the data that is generated from processes in place within your organization. With our tools, your organization is able to gather the data efficiently, and analyze for insights that can help guide changes to current processes and future actions. This helps to streamline communication around specific PAAR, and translates to improvement that can be applied to other PAAR used to address specific threats.

Regarding leak categorization, you can use the data to identify variations and incorrect categorizations amongst your team when leaks arise. If discrepancies are found, you can take steps to develop training to improve the PAAR. 

The image below is an example of data gathered from an organization with potential answers for a set of threat identification questions. Note the variation amongst answers from members of the team. These inconsistencies skew your understanding of leaks and their root causes, pushing you to spend time, money, and energy focusing on a threat that might not be your highest risk. 

pSEc Questions

Ideally, everyone on the team would be in agreement as to the categorization of certain leaks and issues. This insight can be used to help you determine the proper PAAR to implement.

Utilize Tools to Support Your Organization’s PAAR

As you continue to work to address risk in your organization, P.I. Confluence offers tools to help operators manage these efforts.

P.I. Confluence Solution

  • PLAN – ComplyMgr provides policy/procedure support for identification of WHAT we say we are going to do
  • DO – ICAM to document what we do and to track action items associated with WHAT we did
  • CHECK – pSEc helps you to gather the feedback to allow operators to pinpoint the source of inefficiencies and bridge the gap between planning and execution

Once implemented, you review the PAAR – whether you see the desired change or not (This is ACT).  Our tools help verify you’re doing the right thing.

  • Plan: We utilize ComplyMgr to determine whether your plan is aligned with appropriate pipeline regulations or whether you have any gaps. Then, through audit compliance support, we’ll help close the gaps in your program.
  • Do: We utilize ICAM (Integrated Compliance Activity Manager) to support process management by making sure you have the appropriate processes to support the Plan. We take a synergetic approach to ensure that you are doing what you said you were going to do in your Plan.
  • Check: We utilize pSEc (Program Stakeholder Engagement Communication) to check that the right people are doing the right thing in the right way at the right time. This supports the function of gathering stakeholder feedback from boots-on-the-ground workers and other stakeholders to execute the Act.
  • Act: We support the full cycle with Management of Change to gauge performance and ensure that each Check is consistently being acted upon. The process evaluations include implementing a corrective action program, optimizing stakeholder engagement, and sharing lessons learned to support continuous improvement.

What happens when you utilize tools from P.I. Confluence to review/analyze PAAR, to address risk in your operation? Ultimately, you are well-positioned to address risk as it arises – with a thorough, well-documented approach.

Contact P.I. Confluence today to find out how we can help you implement the right tools to address risk and implement programs and accelerated actions.

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