Case Study

Putting the Capital Project Process to Work

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After working with IPA to develop a unifying project process across all its sites, a pulp and paper company returned to IPA for help with its implementation. This IPA client recognized that its newly developed capital project process would not improve project outcomes if it was not used properly. Seeking a company-specific plan, the client also came back to IPA for training that was tailored to the client’s needs.


IPA had previously worked with this client to develop a fit-for-purpose process for capital project implementation across its sites. The sites had functioned independently in the past, without a common company process, leading to uneven project outcomes that relied heavily on team member experience rather than standardized guidelines based on Best Practices. The first goal was to devise fit-for-purpose guidelines for capital project development and execution that were aligned with the client’s business needs, organizational structure, and competency framework. IPA developed a series of instructional guides to explain the main elements of the new capital project system.

After working with IPA to develop a robust and disciplined process for planning and executing capital projects, the next step was to implement that process and then maintain and improve it. IPA again partnered with the company to design and facilitate the rollout and upkeep of the process. IPA worked with client personnel to tailor the Best Practice project process to the company’s needs. Training was done through jointly developed sessions that were intended to empower employees with the required knowledge and skills to apply the process.

To achieve these goals, IPA, in partnership with client management, delivered a 3-day training program designed to enable the participants to be able to:

  • Describe the company’s capital project process and explain the overarching theory that underpins it
  • Locate the supporting documents and tools that provide detailed support in implementing the process
  • Evaluate and select the most appropriate Best Practices for a given situation
  • Contact subject matter experts within the company who can help with implementing specific tools
  • Follow the process to schedule reviews, prepare deliverables, and schedule gate meetings

The ultimate goal for the participants was for them to be confident in their role as a project leader or team member. Both IPA and company personnel led the sessions and were available to answer questions.


The program is ongoing. It is updated periodically and all new employees go through the program as they join the company. The program allows company project personnel to both look at the process from a high-level view of how it is set up and what Best Practices it seeks to implement and then learn who to go to and how to carry out the process, down to specific information such as where the needed forms are located online and how to fill them out.

Participant Feedback: What did you learn?

Why we do certain things. I was exposed [to] and have done 90% of [the] course content, but [the] context of the value to schedule and cost was new and helpful.

Knowing the expectations at each FEL stage will help me better understand what my expectations should be.

The flow of work from FEL 1 to Gate 3. [I] Have not had a project go through this process yet but have 2 coming. I better understand the expectations and steps necessary.

This was my first exposure to the [company] project management FEL stage gate process.

The importance of taking more time up front with projects to avoid mistakes and promote project success. It will also speed up the remaining parts of the project.

Understanding of the background and intent of the FEL process and elements.

Key contact

View Andrew Griffith’s profile

Andrew Griffith

Director, Consortia Membership & the IPA Institute

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