Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the much-anticipated Calgary Operational Excellence event, the coming together of forward-thinking professionals seeking to revolutionize their companies' economic position.
All focused on finding practical remedies to enhance their operations, I was in awe of their collective pursuit of innovation, to streamline labor-intensive processes, and harness the potential of data in more efficient ways.
Key Challenges In Energy, Oil & Gas
Ahead of the OPEX Summit in Calgary, we knew from working closely with our clients that in 2023 there are 3 key challenges.
1. Building resilience in a period of uncertainty
Many organizations are faced with the challenges of tackling energy transition and decarbonization while ensuring operational excellence in business strategy, remaining resilient in the face of disruption, and leveraging trends in technology and innovation.
2. Skills shortages
Unfortunately, there is a huge skills deficit in this industry sector as a whole. Recruiting and retaining employees with the right skillset remains to be a real challenge. Organizations know the value of digital technologies to transform their workforce but fall short on the skills required to kickstart that vision. A recent Ernst & Young report cites that over 90% of companies are currently automating or planning on automating work to address labor shortages.
3. Outdated back office operating models and legacy systems
Despite knowing that business process automation tools are the key to success old legacy technologies are proving to be a noose around the necks of those who are determined to roll out their desired digital strategy and the ability to move at the required pace is an ongoing challenge.
Energy, Oil & Gas Process Automation Challenges Confirmed
The recurring conversations that our team had with delegates from the Energy, Oil, and Gas industry reaffirmed our suspicion that despite generating billions of dollars each year in revenue, these well-known highly successful companies still face operational challenges in certain areas of their business.
Any time employees are taken away from revenue-generating tasks, they are leaving money on the table. It’s worrying that in 2023 team members at all levels and across multiple departments are still spending time searching for an email thread, locating a paper purchase order or filling out and scanning paper forms, however, this is still the case in a plethora of organizations. If this resonates with you, please keep reading!
Collaboration and Empowered Employees is Key
While many of our conversations at OPEX started at a high-level outlining how we help improve operational efficiencies, they quickly went on to address the bigger picture and how individuals can add more value and become empowered to be creative and automate their own processes without relying on IT personnel. We are consistently seeing how process automation benefits are spreading far and wide in client organizations. Through their new collaborative eco-system, FlowForma Process Automation users are getting better at demonstrating where these inefficiencies are costing their organizations and quickly remedying by creating simple/complex automated workflows to fix.
Avoiding Revenue Interruption At All Costs
When meeting with delegates at any summit, it is always useful to be able to refer to real-life examples. A use case that piqued a lot of interest and resonated well at the Calgary event was how FlowForma Process Automation can help organizations avoid revenue interruption. Identifying, for example, machine downtime and ensuring that a process is in place to remedy any issues quickly can be detrimental to an organization. If a machine is 'down' this can significantly impact an organization's revenue so it is vital that steps are in place to action and ensure that relevant personnel are alerted as early as possible. Having a birds eye view of bottlenecks and data to support a required change to eliminate downtime is an important capability to have at your disposal. With a no code process automation tool, you can collect data from your automated processes that helps to determine vital information pertaining to asset integrity.
As part of a process, a simple check box can be added to question if recommendations have been followed and implemented. This level of data analysis is not quick to access when combing through excel spreadsheets or looking for maintenance reports. Improving a company’s economic position comes from all assets working at maximum capacity at every moment, and being able to identify gaps/inefficiencies instantly is a powerful way to mitigate revenue interruption. Implementing process changes like this, in any use case, helps to instill the innovative approach that all our clients strive to adopt.
Time Is Money – Eliminate Labor-Intensive Tasks
While listening to the delegates about their company’s objectives and how they plan to deliver on these, the recurring revelation was that employees are simply spending too much time on manual labor-intensive repetitive tasks. With the assumption that these tasks are only 30 minutes here and there, those 30 minutes over the course of a year, across the entire organization, is huge. “Energy flows where attention goes,” as the American coach Tony Robbins would say, let your employees do what they do best and get your organization better acquainted with automating these routine tasks with the right digital process automation solution. Your time is the only resource your company cannot buy more of, so why is it acceptable to waste it on something that could take 5 minutes versus your current 30?
Improved Decision Making Through Accurate Data
Our experience has taught us that when the information is captured at the source in a consistent manner, it allows the business to place a greater value on the predictive data that stems from their very own operations. FlowForma customers are seeing how their decision-making process is enhanced considerably by having reliable, accurate data to consume and analyze.
Many delegates at the OPEX Summit also alluded to this common trend that results from ad hoc paper processes - incomplete and inconsistent data coming into the organization. With paper or email-based processes, there is no foolproof way to ensure that every section is being correctly filled in, whereas a digital form can mitigate this by having mandatory fields and applying quality checks at every point. From an administrative perspective, the laborious task of chasing staff and vendors for missing pieces of information could be better served on credit control and invoice creation.
Secondly, with information being in one centralized location the ability to illustrate where the bottlenecks lie is also a helpful aftereffect. This is achieved with the introduction of 'industry standard timelines' that forms are typically completed in. These are set up at the time of creation by your dedicated FlowForma Customer Success Team. By utilizing our performance indicator section within the dashboard section of the software, you are able to tackle the root cause of the inefficiency. It couldn’t be simpler to view exactly where the delay is caused in any process.
Small Steps Can Make A Significant Impact
We recognize that digital transformation can seem like a seismic shift for some organizations, but I recommend not trying to boil the ocean. Business Process Automation changes the way your employees interact with each other, but only for the better. As previously mentioned, you can introduce one universally accepted process flow to complete a task and de-risk frontline workers from the possibility of not recording a certain piece of information, which will be welcomed from a time-saving standpoint. Every area of your business will be protected when you have the ability to make important fields mandatory and no one can skip steps in a process.
Your business will have a better aerial view of each operational process and indicate where, if any, new measures need to be introduced. It will provide the business with one single source of truth that can be layered with other data analysis platforms for a comprehensive birds-eye view of the organization.
As our expertise revolves around helping organizations to bring their digital strategies to life, let us help you introduce small but powerful steps, that in time, will result in large changes throughout your organization. Why not schedule some time with one of our process experts who will listen to your current challenges and help you map out which processes you should prioritize and help you visualize what your digital process automation journey might look like.
You might still be at the early research phase and need more info to understand what’s involved in implementing process automation. This helpful 6-Step Guide is a useful resource to remind you of the various considerations.
Thankfully Calgary was insightful and breathtaking in equal measure. Longer term I am envisioning automated processes as calm and tranquil as some of the spectacular views our team had the pleasure of witnessing. Remember, baby steps will have a significant positive impact longer term and the benefits of business process automation will ripple throughout your organization.