Building the Business Case

The first step begins with the following six objectives:

  • 1. Collaborate with local site personnel to identify key enterprise objectives as a team.
  • 2. Provide economic justification for the fleet rollout.
  • 3. Pinpoint initial use cases that have a rapid expected payback.
  • 4. Achieve buy-in from the management team and key staff-level influences/team leaders.
  • 5. Foster cooperation and collaboration from all involved. This includes working as a cohesive team, eliminating siloed business practices, and providing sufficient training for people to succeed.
  • 6. Create a project roadmap that identifies and schedules the initial refineries and the initial EIDI use cases. Ensure that the roadmap is periodically updated, based on changing business strategies and the results of completed initiatives.

Financially Justifying the Proposed EIDI Enterprise Rollout

Peter Argus, Proclndustries' continuous-improvement manager, knew that the next challenge would be one of the most difficult of his career. Successfully implementing an EIDI project at the refinery had been a remarkable achievement. However, taking this to the rest of the enterprise would be an order of magnitude more difficult (Thornton 2019).

Before the EIDI deployment, the Proclndustries South Texas refinery had been way behind the technology curve and lagged behind their competitors. It took a sizable plant incident for management to understand they needed to enact significant changes to refinery operations. Their first priority was to make sure an event like this never happened again by transitioning to refining-industry best practices. Smart planning, management support, effective deployment execution, and successful teamwork helped the refinery reach their goals in less than a year.

Peter recalled that when his former company opted for an enterprisewide transformation, many of the departments did not work together at all. Senior managers vigorously defended their turf and were resistant to collaboratively working together.

Corporate business management, marketing, corporate IT, and the refinery managers were highly disconnected. Many people were protective of their data and reports. If information was shared at all, it was sent via spreadsheets or through after-the-fact reports. There was no comprehensive strategy on how to centralize operations and production data and how to make the data easily available to knowledge workers when they needed it. Peter contemplated whether he would fight the same battle at Proclndustries.

The digital transformation team reconvened to discuss how they would justify enterprise-wide deployment of the EIDI across all refineries. They determined that they would split the proposed benefits into two categories: estimated quantifiable returns, such as energy and maintenance savings; and those not easily quantifiable, but equally as important in achieving corporate objectives and minimizing risk to the enterprise.

The team thought the best method to calculate potential returns and benefits was to interview a cross section of employees from each potential deployment site as well as several key corporate employees to formulate a comprehensive view of how the EIDI could be of most value to everyone. This way, change is initiated in a productive way.

The team asked each of the interviewees the following questions:

  • 1. What were their top pain points? Which problems occurred most often?
  • 2. How would access to relevant data assist them?
  • 3. How would this data help the refinery solve its problems?
  • 4. Which issues should be initially addressed during EIDI planning and deployment?
  • 5. What are the possible benefits and returns from having the data readily available?

The interviewees for each site consisted of the following personnel:

  • • Vice President of Operations for Proclndustries Bill Roberts
  • • South Texas Refinery Manager Tom Jordan
  • • Production Manager Tim Olsen
  • • Planning and Economics Coordinator Monica Armstrong
  • • Operations Manager and Shift Supervisor Jesus Gonzalez
  • • Maintenance Manager Paul Morgan
  • • Process Control Manager Chuck Smith
  • • Process Engineering Manager and Process Engineer Alex Moretti
  • • Energy and Utilities Manager Ron Erickson
  • • Process Safety and Environmental Manager Raj Singh
  • • Product Quality and Laboratory Manager Chen Wang
  • • IT Manager Paul Verlaine

After completing those interviews at the various sites, the team interviewed several corporate personnel who would utilize the aggregated site data or have a key role in the fleet-wide deployment. These are the directors of

  • • Fleet-wide business operations;
  • • Fleet-wide production planning and scheduling;
  • • Refinery operations;
  • • Corporate IT;
  • • Fleet-wide maintenance;
  • • Corporate engineering; and
  • • Health, safety, and environmental engineering.

After four weeks of comprehensive interviews, the team reconvened to summarize their findings and list the potential benefits and returns for the rest of the fleet. Peter instructed the team to combine the interview conclusions with the results achieved by using the EIDI at the South Texas refinery. Some of the projected benefits were compelling, but the team could not quantify them into a specific return-on-investment (ROI) number. As a result, they divided their proposed justification into quantifiable and non-quantifiable items.

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