Decision Support & Cost/Benefit Analysis

A petrochemical firm needed tools to quickly determine the overall costs and benefits associated with plant improvement construction projects. All aspects of these projects can be boiled down to dollar values stemming from the effects before and after the proposed changes. Knowing the costs and benefits enables the client to determine if a project would be profitable.

The influence on the projects can be measured on workforce, public perception, regulatory goodwill, environment, business partners and other factors. The changes can protect the environment and save resources and lives. The key to achieving funding for such projects is determining the payback period considering all influences. In some cases, the payback period is heavily influenced by the factors that are intangible (perception, goodwill, cooperation). In other cases, project plans are controlled by identifiable items (land, water, species or people) being threatened.

Designed and developed two types of applications. One is high-level and the other is in-depth. These two methods allow the client to perform initial screening and in-depth analysis of the possible changes which can be undertaken at a plant site. The simple screening application requires the entry of a handful of values which summarize all sectors of influence. A protected sheet contains calculation weight and dollar quantities. Sort methods and graphs are provided to aid in the comprehension of the high-level calculations.

The in-depth application allows the user to perform projections of the problem frequency over a number of years. This enables an accurate portrayal of problem severity and cumulative costs. Present Value calculations allow the users to correctly ascertain the value of money over many years. All calculation values are stored within maintenance tables. The user has the ability to customize each sector's problem frequency for the calculations (default handling is available through a checkbox in each sector).

The tools used were Excel 5.0/95 and ACCESS 2.0. The application runs on Windows 3.1/95/98/NT.