Across the oil and gas industry initial investments have been made to formalize work processes and capture information and data within portions of the enterprise. However, there is business opportunity, as well as competitive necessity, to further standardize work processes throughout enterprises and integrate information into the work process. Leading companies are now taking the right steps to do this.

 

Efforts to standardize work processes and integrate information are being driven in part by compliance and standardization requirements. Regulatory groups review and analyze the commonality and consistency of processes performed across similar facilities. The expectation is to find consistency both within and across facilities. A global refining company, for example, is focused on the driving consistent processes across refineries, while capturing and making required documents and insights available to execute the process steps.

 

Another pressure that this sector is acutely aware of is the impending loss of knowledge through the changing workforce. This is driving the capture and formalization of knowledge into work processes, and it represents an important shift from an expert model in which knowledge and insights exist primarily in the heads of specialists to an integration model that is embedded in formal processes, making it easier to learn and apply. In addition, a lot of time is spent accessing and aggregating information and data. Today, people in many organizations spend a substantial percent of their time looking for documents, reports, files and data. With the integration of information sources and core work processes, relevant information becomes more readily accessible, allowing time previously spent looking for information to be spent taking action.

 

The industry is experiencing a demand for greater business agility. By formalizing processes and integrating information access, businesses can achieve the agility needed to focus on differentiation. One source of agility comes through the use of predictive analytics – identifying potential issues in the future versus reacting to actual issues as they occur. This proactive approach results in greater capacity and availability to deal with the unexpected. In an Accenture survey of more than 160 senior executives around the world, 57 percent indicated that competitive differentiation is their primary focus for the coming years versus 34 percent that are focused on “staying in the game."1

 

Establishing consistent process execution and information visibility environments involve a number of aspects. First, create process definition and standardization at multiple levels – including logic, flows, and conditions – to complete work steps. While this may seem elementary, leaders of many companies indicate that process standardization thus far has taken place – at best – within departments or work groups. Second, with the process standardized, identify the information needed to support each process step. This includes the documents, knowledge, records, analytics and insights that are necessary to best perform the step or task. It also provides the foundation as well as support for creation and capture of new knowledge or documents that result from the step execution. Third, identify and map information related to the process step, clarifying where and how it will be accessed and stored. Fourth, determine business measures and metrics aligned to the collection of processes. Capture and visibility of such metrics could, for example, allow a manager to see how many pump repairs are in progress versus completed, and allow an executive to see the repair cycle type across facilities in specific geographies.

 

Technologies are available to address and support execution and visibility environments as well as the business steps. With processes defined, business process management (BPM) technologies model process flows within an automated environment. Web services and data integration tie the information sources to the process steps, providing users with access to information (e.g., checklists, guidelines, documents and data) needed to perform individual steps and the ability to post new information (e.g., results, forms data, documents and reports) that need to be shared to progress and complete the step. Business activity monitoring (BAM) used in tandem with defined metrics to alert regarding status and potential issues within processes – individually and collectively – drives effective management. Portals provide aggregated access to the process steps, supporting information and integrate the knowledge and analytic capabilities aiding in efficient and effective access and execution.

 

Leading companies are starting to take these steps, from both business and enabling technology perspectives. One leading upstream company is driving this type of process definition and formalization as well as integrated information access. Visibility into the process and the knowledge, collaboration capabilities and metrics are provided via a single interface. Greater agility and improved performance is being achieved through process consistency, and increased specialist capacity as generalists are enabled to do more. A number of success factors have been defined, including:

  • Remain business focused. At the core of any business is the business process. Focus on the business process is necessary for efficient, effective actions and decisions throughout the process – with technologies, human change and other factors as enablers.
  • Address governance. From both a business and enabling technology perspective, governance –organization model, decision-making processes; policies and standards, goals and metrics – is critical. Governance is critical to the successful establishment and sustainability of such environments and the realization of business value over time. Accenture research shows that organizations are beginning to recognize and address the area of governance; 72 percent of executives surveyed will focus on data governance over the next three years.2
  • Move to future looking. Through the establishment of such environments, providing data and process visibility, there is an opportunity to move from reactive responses to considering the future. An important aspect of business differentiation is available capacity and the ability to work in an agile, proactive fashion. One operating company has gained differentiation through defining models to predict equipment failure based on historical mean time between failures and other data factors. With this ability, a portion of the maintenance function is more forward looking, agile and has increased capacity to focus on the unexpected.

Both business opportunity and competitive necessity are driving further process standardization, integration of related information and access through process execution and visibility environments. It is through developing and sustaining such environments that leading organizations can achieve greater differentiation and agility.

 

References:

1. “Cultivating High Performance Through Information Management,” Accenture, 2007.

2. Accenture.

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