Within the Oil & Gas Upstream Industry Process Optimisation is a key focus area that generally looks at optimising fluid production via Technical tools and deep Petroleum Engineering expertise. It is important to remember that behind the deep science there are some basic things we can do to improve any process.
Process Optimisation is the discipline of adjusting a process so as optimise specified parameters without violating business constraints, and should be always link back to a business strategy and measurable KPI. The outcome should have clear and unambiguous business benefits.
There common pitfalls to avoid;
- Wrong KPI's
- Lack process ownership
- Unclear start and finish
- No mechanism to embed change
- Lack of execution
It is also common to get dragged down in the specifics of data quality, it's important to focus on a standard repeatable process which users will adopt, data can be refined once the process is recognised.
It is also important to start at the outcome (KPI's), if the data element does not have an impact on the outcome ignore it. Very often process optimisation projects fail to meet any goals due to over attention on resolving inherent data issues.
Remember process optimisation is an on-going activity, applying this mind set to goal setting is key to success. If the final goal is a 25% improvement in downtime then a short term goal of 10% has immediate benefit to the client.
Why Process Optimisation?
Generally businesses grow organically, users adopt processes which may have been inherited from previous companies. Bespoke software evolves to meet the way a business performs it's business tasks puts additional cost of ownership on the business. Generally it's when the business can no longer support bespoke or requires new features that the viability of the solution gets attention.
It's normally easy to see when a business has non-standard processes, and this surfaces when looking for alternative solutions. Now is a good time to step back and question is the way the business performs industry standard tasks. Off-the-shelf software evolves to support a wider group, if your peers don't need your features, then there is a strong chance you need to look at how current work is performed.
Utilising best practice ways of working will not only make it easier to acquire skills from other industries, but it also allow your business to take advantage of using off-the-shelf software cost savings.
Given that process optimisation is an on-going activity, understanding the time taken to complete tasks for example and failed processes provides valuable insight in how a process can be further optimised. A typical process involves many manual activities, once the time between these manual activities has been optimised then there may be opportunities for automating certain tasks.
This assumes that the process is time sensitive, in some cases you may want to know status or who is the task owner at any one point in time. These aspects are generally items that overlooked when executing a process optimisation project. These can also form part of your business KPI's in during definition.
Think about the outcomes, and how to measure performance, phase in a series of achievable goals.
This article has also been published on LinkedIn; Upstream Oil & Gas Process Optimisation - Best Practice Tips